Our global team shares regular insights into today’s product development issues, advances, technologies
and trends. Sign up to receive notice when these reports are available.
The Perkins SMART Brailler enables the capture of braille key strokes and translates that input into embossed braille, dynamic audible speech output, visual braille and text on the screen, and files that can be saved/printed. In-home user testing allowed the team to observe that adding audio and visual feedback expanded the learning experience to parents and siblings creating a powerful self-learning and sharing environment.
Testing font sizes on low-fi prototypes allowed us to pinpoint a key audience for this device: those who are losing their vision, but using it as a learning tool for as long as they can. Testing included different print typefaces and different sizes of simulated braille.
The SMART Brailler brings the most widely-used mechanical braille writer, the Perkins Brailler, into the modern age helping bridge the learning gap between low and high-tech products while helping users learn and become proficient in braille. Creating a usable physical device with responsive analog controls that delivers lush, discernible feedback for tactile interactions was the number one goal of the team.
The SMART Brailler is a step-change improvement of current methods; the added output of the brailler helps facilitate play, trial-and-error experimentation, and independent learning for everyone – children or adults who are blind, teachers, and parents. Color and material studies, systems design, and drawing inspiration from other markets all converged to create a distinctive, usable, and competitive product.
The new Perkins SMART Brailler™ is a high-technology Microsoft CE based braille learning device. The smarts in the device build on an existing mechanical system with its own logic. This allows the SMART Brailler to train users so they can be familiar with any similar braille device.
Specifying and prototyping various components and assembly methods allowed us to deliver cost-effective yet desirable features to the broadest user base that could be assembled and serviced by Perkins and its vendors.
PDT designed the full unboxing experience for the product: a sturdy and reusable box, combination print and braille instructions, both leading to an audio tour after the device is powered on for the first time.
Until now, using high-tech braille products required braille proficiency. The SMART Brailler gets even new learners connected instantly to braille, opening a more direct route to literacy. It delivers form and function to a user base that often has to choose one or the other.
The PDT and HumanToolz partnership began with a clearly defined goal: to develop a stand worthy of the iPad that has the same Apple quality, fit and finish.
The product requirements were long, but two important features were to develop a hinge that supports virtually any angle and can easily be switched between landscape and portrait viewing.
PDT’s designers and engineers collaborated and developed a minimalist design that is easy to install; it simply snaps into place. The low profile design works in harmony with the iPad and was designed to improve virtually every use making it an enduring companion to the iPad, yet it can easily be removed.
All it takes is the flip of the iPad to seamlessly change between landscape and portrait; no additional adjustments required.
The HumanToolz Mobile Stand supports optimal viewing angles providing users with improved comfort and posture and can be used on virtually any surface. Plus the stand improves how well the iPad feels and fits in your hands.
Its built-in kickstand uses the same precision hinge technology found on MacBook Air notebooks.
Chosen for its strength, rigidity and durability, the HumanToolz Mobile Stand is cast out of a single piece of high performance aluminum. The 4-corner, high strength aluminum design protects each corner and prevents the entire rear of the iPad from making contact with damaging surfaces. The aluminum finish matches the back of the iPad precisely.
To accommodate the functions of the iPad, the stand features cutouts for the camera, volume control, and screen rotation lock button. Urethane pads enhance the fit while protecting the iPad finish. And it fits seamlessly with the Apple Smart Cover to provide 360-degree protection.
And all in a 2.5 ounce package. A Kickstarter success story.
By leveraging natural patterns of human body movements and a modular form, the PRIMAL7 aimed to enable those who are not physically fit or have challenges related to disabilities as well as those who already maintain a level of fitness to build strength and aerobic endurance.
Many people who begin a fitness regimen are so out of shape or inhibited by disabilities that they cannot physically perform some exercises. The PRIMAL7, named for the 7 primal patterns of human body movement, aimed to enable users to customize their workouts to include strength training and aerobic exercises that are achievable for people of every fitness level.
The PRIMAL7 endeavored to empower anyone to move through a full range of motion with proper form. In order to execute this goal, modular bands offering different strengths and resistance levels were created to safely connect and disconnect from the system via a quick release mechanism.
Based upon the 7 primal patterns embraced and demonstrated by PRIMAL7, PDT designed a system to endure the challenges presented by weight, movement, modularity and universal access. Quick release mechanisms are robust and secure yet easy to operate, touch points were developed with subtle yet critical ergonomic considerations and material choices were solidified based upon performance, cost and weight.
By integrating lightweight materials and TPE overmolded touch points, the PRIMAL7 system is designed with the end user in mind to promote a secure and easy to use interaction. In depth analysis allowed PDT to identify the optimum geometry, structure and materials to use in order to meet the rigorous demands of weight and movement.
The system was designed to integrate easily into a multitude of lifestyles and environments. Ready to use out of the box by simply attaching it to a closed door, an overhead bar or an overhanging tree limb, the PRIMAL7 is easy to set up and take down.
From the VA to basic training, from rehab centers to gyms and homes, the Primal7 is changing lives by improving the health of individuals with disabilities, including veterans, as well as those who struggle with obesity.
Sterile processing departments must work efficiently to meet the around the clock demand of hospital operating rooms.
The STERIS V-PRO 1 Low Temperature Sterilization System has been an important and quickly recognizable tool for those responsible for sterile processing. When embarking on development of their next generation sterilizer, STERIS wanted to build on this success while making improvements that met user needs.
Through observations and interviews with sterile processing technicians in their working environments, we uncovered their desire for an ergonomic, easy to use chamber door to make loading equipment easier, just like a laundry machine at home. A large handle was created which catered to the various heights of technicians and only requires a simple push and pull.
A larger display with an improved user interface helps users navigate through the versatile processing options of the V-PRO maX. Improved material compatibility and sterilization power of the V-PRO maX helps to minimize aborted cycles, saving time and money and enabling reliable equipment turnaround.
Sterile processing departments and the equipment must be kept clean to prevent infection and contamination. The new flush design of the V-PRO maX helps to minimize dust and dirt buildup and is easy to wipe down and keep clean. The V-PRO maX maintains the family look of the older V-PRO 1 while capturing a much more modern and stylish appearance.
Marvell requested that PDT help them connect with customers and consumers alike to effectively demonstrate the power of their technology beginning at CES 2011.
With a whimsical reference to a very familiar form - the printed book - PDT designed, engineered and manufactured a short run of 'two faced tablets' with the Armada processor simultaneously driving multiple activities on an E-ink screen and a TFT touchscreen that were placed on opposing faces of the product.
The technical challenges of combining two screen technologies, a high performance wireless system for confined indoor spaces and navigating multiple sources of EM interference lead to creative thinking for assembly, component layout and interconnects while maintaining closeness to an industry relevant thickness of 20mm.
Marvell and PDT worked in concert to accelerate the development program by orchestrating global teams to work on internal and external design details simultaneously. The focus was on creating a high impact design that was also easy to assemble, disassemble, and suitable for low volume production manufacturing techniques.
Marvell's feature rich reference tablet fulfilled the goal of standing out with performance and personality, enabling them to connect with their audience and affirm their position as a leading semiconductor company innovating in microprocessor architecture, connectivity and digital signal processing for mobile platforms.
Currently, fluids from surgery are collected using vacuum hoses and racks of rigid plastic bins and disposed of manually into sinks or solidified with gel and thrown away. Customers think the current offering exposes staff to pathogens, is bulky and expensive to dispose of, clutters the operating room, requires attention during surgery, and is similar to competitor offerings.
We focused on streamlining how surgical waste is managed, not just providing buckets and tubes for collection. By using technology we could shift the sales relationship from commodity resupply to a differentiated, value-added solution that meets multiple customer needs.
From expert and stakeholder interviews, competitive assessments, and observational research we identified opportunities and key strategic priorities: eliminate spill potential, remove the clutter of daisy-chain collection towers, end staff exposure to biohazard waste, create a compact, lower-cost container that dramatically reduces costly red-bag waste, and lock out competitors.
We solved complex technical challenges, and continually tested for quality and manufacturability. A compact, yet stable footprint, intuitive, ergonomic controls, verification of secure wall docking before pumping out surgical waste…
a reliable collection bag that was thin-walled and collapsible, simplified post-surgical sterilization, streamlined inventory and setup, and cost-reduced the bill of materials.
A compelling, meaningfully differentiated game-changer that was built around cardinal's go-to-market strategy was brought to fruition.
As a strategic partner, and because of our constant tech scouting efforts, PDT was tasked with establishing an ecosphere of suppliers and methodologies that would enable Dell to reach their short and long term goals for notebooks.
We brought our knowledge of material processes, and engineering and construction methodologies to help Dell achieve their first new vision with the Dell Adamo 13; a machine built upon technical excellence and the ethos of craftsmanship.
Before the launch of Adamo 13, another challenge was already underway.
"Can we make the world's thinnest notebook?"
Proving the goal was attainable, PDT created working aggregate prototypes for analysis and demonstration amongst key stakeholders at Dell. With the green light, our focus turned to detailing.
Despite a sudden and untimely downturn in the economic climate, Dell moved ahead and launched both the Adamo 13 and the Adamo XPS. Both award winning notebooks broke records in terms of thinness, and remain as Halo products influencing notebook products across all price points, helping Dell reach new levels of innovation and appeal.
When Æsir, a Copenhagen-based company that is creating a new genre of handset design, considered their strong commitment to realizing the designer's vision, in this case Yves Behar, no matter how exacting it might be, they called on us at PDT.
"The key to this project was building a phone from the outside in," said Thomas Moller Jensen, Æsir CEO, "which is a revolutionary concept for the market." Built with a focus on craftsmanship in an industry pushing warp-speed obsolescence, we engineered the Æ+Y to be a quality, long-lasting alternative in a market where phones are typically replaced when the next version hits the shelf.
The challenges were plentiful: from unique materials like 18 ct solid gold and sapphire crystal to 20 miniature screws, precision was paramount.
We developed a range of highly functional development prototypes early on in the program to test and validate important functions of the product with potential clients and ensure the precise, refined device worked flawlessly.
This is the world's first ceramic mobile phone case of its size with virtually no visible split line.
The phone took more than two and a half years to develop and over 7,000 hours of engineering time. Æ+Y will cost about $10,250 USD. We are thrilled to be working with Æsir right now to develop their next line of mobile phones – stay tuned!
Currently the majority of laboratories that conduct sample processing of protein require numerous hours, volumes of samples and multiple pieces of equipment to obtain an immunoprecipitation sample. By understanding the work flow of MAGic, we had the opportunity to adjust, alter and enhance the ease of use and efficiency of the test procedure.
The challenge was in creating a solution that encompasses the knowledge gained from our research while learning from countless experiments into a design language that promoted the ideals of the client. Also of importance was the ability to focus the user on the work while addressing issues like fatigue and appropriateness for environment.
By employing “real time design” practices, we applied virtual theories into physical prototypes. This process enabled our engineers and designers to work in parallel making alterations in the design to fabricate and confirm solutions.
In order for MAGic to deliver what it promises, we had to address thermal dynamic issues. The unit was required to heat up, maintain temperature and cool down during protocols. We created a prototype to conduct basic feasibility analysis to understand the ramp rates and capacities of the current design.
Our world class craftsmen achieved extremely tight tolerances on the eight models created for testing and visual representation. Life Technologies excited their customer base with the prototypes and built anticipation for the revolutionary device’s launch. The robust, elegant design increased MAGic’s perceived value, boosting profit margin significantly.
PDT was approached to create a home alert system from the ground up with two main objectives: keeping product costs down and making it user friendly and intuitive. Because our team was conceptualizing the entire system, we created story boards and user scenarios to map all critical elements, including: operating system, wireless protocol, necessary sensors, user setup scenarios, remote interaction requirements and more.
Posed with the challenge of creating an iconic look while meeting a very aggressive, low cost bill of material, we found inspiration in architectural elements that emit a friendly and unintimidating look, appealing to even the least tech-savvy user. “Form Implies Function” in this design solution as the form draws your attention to the main display area and directs your view down to the main input/output cord management. The hub and sensors share a family design language that communicates to the user that the elements interact with each other.
PDT designed the user experience for the entire iText system, including interaction via a mobile phone. Users can gesture to common menus, easily glance at the status of the entire system, eliminating the need for a HOME or MENU button. Large graphics, simple icons and custom alert sounds inform the user of changes to their environment while they are in the home even if they are not close to or in view of the hub.
PDT chose to leverage the Android operating system ported to a low end arm9 processor to cost reduce by avoiding licensing fees. The open platform gave our team the opportunity to create a unique user experience with a complete set of custom controls and integrated Zigbee communication. Our team saw the development through the circuit board design, mechanical engineering and low volume production and supported the program as the product went through FCC, PTCRB, and ETL approvals.
The customizable system is flexible to various user needs. As many as 8 sensors can be added up to 150ft away from the hub, enabling users to be informed of changes in temperature, moisture, motion, door or window openings, and power outages. The hub will run off battery power during a power loss. The system’s use of Android and unique interaction design make the iText Alert a distinctive offering in the home security and monitoring space.
Complete integrated weighing and packing line solutions are currently configured to the customer's requirements using existing standalone machines.
Too many contact arrangements, too little directly-accepted responsibility, too many levels of quality and too many manufacturing systems have all worked against the search for an efficient, consistent, economic and low risk solution. Ishida was looking to address the need for a truly integrated tray packing line from a single source.
We looked internally at Ishida and externally to Ishida’s customers to gain insight into the current situation during site visits and brainstorm sessions. Ishida found they needed to deliver a modular, configurable, 'plug and play' assembly line that suits the needs of the market and meets Ishida's cost, size, aesthetic and ergonomic requirements.
We mapped out the key issues and considerations uncovered in discovery, giving the team a blueprint to address and resolve the challenges at hand during the design phase.
We then broke the systems down into manageable, configurable pieces before building it back up into a system that met all of Ishida’s goals.
At its unveiling at Interpack 2011, strong Flex-Line sales already returned Ishida's investment.
Recreational athletes strive to stay limber and active but struggle with serious lactic acid buildup and soreness. PDT got to work with Moji to create a truly unique solution to ease their pain.
Heat and massage are the prescription for muscle pain, but we found it was difficult to deliver these in tandem to one’s own body.
By implementing carefully positioned omni-directional spheres (with heat!) we could provide a wide range of flexibilities to target major muscle groups and troublesome trigger point knots.
Great ideas are useless unless they can be effectively implemented, so we made creative solutions come to life with a strong mechanical and electrical foundation.
The PDT electrical engineering team tested different battery powered heating concepts to determine which would maximize the heating performance and minimize cost. Very early prototypes were used to test the heating performance.
We developed a printed circuit board assembly to control heating and charge batteries from an external power source. We also developed firmware which monitors and controls heating temperature, battery charging, and provides heating/charging status to the user through a single bi-color LED.
We stayed with Moji to support their first molded product manufacture overseas, ensuring a smooth transition to completion.
Effective function, Sleek design, Lifestyle driven and selling like hotcakes!
In 2006, the Fellowes UK team was challenged to return the Binding & Laminating (B&L) business unit to profitable trading.
To meet this challenge, it was decided that a completely new range of innovative binding and laminating machines needed to be designed. Fellowes assembled a team that included internal engineers, PDT’s UK branch, and Shoal Creative to make their goal possible.
Despite the business pressures and tight project timescales, the first product was on the shelf seven short months after the initial design concepts had been produced.
The design quality and aesthetic appeal of the machines, combined with highly effective packaging across the whole product range, resulted in a 48% global sales increase in the year to March 2008. The Fellowes binding and laminating business is now enjoying consistent profitable trading.
The International Export Award in the annual DBA (Design Business Association) was given for the development of the enormously successful Fellowes binding and laminating machine families for leveraging the true value of design.
Current SATCOM equipment is cumbersome, heavy, and fragile- all factors that potentially restrict deployment and accessibility.
Upon Coolfire Solutions' request, PDT helped them rewrite the rule book and develop an integrated, user focused solution enabled by an iPhone. At a fraction of the cost, weight and size, this solution, along with Coolfire's App suite, has the ability to revolutionize how SATCOM operatives work.
Working bench top prototypes allowed the integrated team to deconstruct functionality and determine a hierarchy of requirements to optimize the electrical, software and mechanical interactions and the physical volume.
Focusing on ‘functional elegance’ while maximizing usability and durability was a primary goal for PDT...
SCOUT toolkit gives FSRs nearly identical capabilities in a 6 lb box.
The SCOUT toolkit includes a spectrum analyzer, power meter, multimeter, WiFi transceiver, USB hub computer processor, GPS receiver and several other tools in one small box.
“The fine people at PDT understand our needs and can work around any speed bump to deliver on time, if not early.”
More than 150 primary immunodeficiency diseases and other health related conditions can increase the body’s susceptibility to infection from food.
3D Clean approached PDT to develop a revolutionary sterilization device with the mission to answer this threat as well as provide a unique solution for general sterilization.
360° sterilization of 99.9% of bacteria in one 30 second operation was achieved by containing and reflecting the UV light while optimizing the use of a unique quartz glass.
The challange of presenting a universally understandable experience led to a unique and intuitive touch interface that can be easily wiped clean.
PDT presented 3D clean with a breakthrough device that turns the task of eradicating bacteria into a simple, routine operation.
In the United States, 70% of citizens who are blind are unemployed or underemployed. However, 80% of those who use Braille are employed.” - Perkins School for the Blind
The Classic Perkins Brailler has over 700 moving mechanical parts, took 10 years to invent, has become a critical part of visually impaired education around the world.. and Perkins entrusted PDT to update every detail.
PDT coordinated ethnographic research on a global scale to identify the current reach and new opportunities for Perkins.
Research included returning for user feedback throughout the process. Not only did we get a read on the product details, but also the varying contexts in which it will live.
PDT identified how the goals of smaller size, weight, key force and various features could be achieved through new materials, configurations and thinking.
The Perkins Next Generation Brailler is now being actively used in classrooms and homes around the world. Less force, less weight, less noise, more possibilities and the potential to bring Braille literacy into the 21st century.
In today's world, kids want their own way to express themselves and connect with the people in their life. PDT helped lead Firefly to create a mobile phone family that gives kids the independence they want with the security they need.
The ability for a child to get in touch with their parent or guardian is paramount. Both The flyPhone and glowPhone make accessing a parent one-click away.
Now for the fun stuff! Easily text a friend, snap a photo, take a video, play a game... all with unique playful icons and interface.
Designing a complete phone interaction flow for kids was no easy task. PDT's user interaction team thought through every button press and on-screen message to make it as seamless an experience as possible.
In order to ensure visual clarity, PDT created a custom font for the flyPhone along with fun interactive icons and screen layouts.
The first line of mobile phones designed for the active, connected and engaged youngster.
To truly understand this global brand it was critical to recount the path it had taken so far - identifying turns, twists and influences along the way.
The industrial age brought iconography that has remained in Swingline’s ethos for many years after its birth. From this, we established an iconic baseline.
The beginnings of exploration lead to ways to push the language and establish new interpretations for form and function.
Prototyping forms enabled hands on exploration of identity, proportion, ergonomics and forms.
Identity should also encompass the entire brand experience. Our team explored function, tactile response, materials and articulation in order to ensure Swingline maintained a superior brand experience.
Consistency of form, proportion and functional cleverness were maintained across multiple price points ensuring a wide retail presence that fit business requirements and consumer needs.
STERIS has been providing the industry’s leading double and single hospital basin scrub sinks for 30+ years. It was time to reevaluate their material and process choices and evolve the product to best suit the needs of active hospital professionals.
Our team addressed ergonomic and safety issues with a design that allows the user to stand closer to the basin, more comfortably access the leg panel controls, and minimize water ‘splashback’.
We compiled a matrix of potential materials to replace stainless steel. They had to exhibit the same durability while reducing manufacturing costs. Cross-referencing chemical compatibility specifications of the materials with the chemicals of the hospital environment, one material rose to the top of the list – Kydex T coupled with thermoform manufacturing.
We created full scale prototypes to test hospital installation and usage- proving the design was much more inviting and effective.
The progressive STERIS scrub sink was honored with a Design Journal ADEX Award for superior product design.
PDT sought to help Covidien implement a flexible and ergonomically sound tool for surgical use.
Our team took cues from current consumer electronics that soldiers are used to: a new lightweight, slim form factor, text messaging capability, and dual orientation controls were introduced.
But this isn’t a consumer electronic product. Military units brave the toughest elements. Equipped with a night vision display and wearable strap feature, soldiers enjoy accessibility and efficient usability in any condition. KDU is right by their sides at all hours and can survive any abuse thrown at it. Because our goal was to deliver the keypad with an IP67 rating, we designed the device to be assembled without screws by ultrasonically welding the housings as well as bonding the silicone keypad to the housing.
The rugged design underwent drop testing in our lab.
The new design found quick success; pre-production release appearance models generated enough sales demand to provide complete ROI within 3 months of launch. At a quarter of the retail price of its predecessor and the ability to be assembled in nearly a tenth of the time, this device sparked a new business model for the purchase of accessory devices. Since they are inexpensive and quick to produce, small military units can privately purchase them when they need them.
Smart Power Devices knew the information about how we can be more ‘green’ is readily available, reliable and plentiful, but people need to see this information in a way that’s easy to understand. Smart Power Devices Ltd turned to PDT when developing a new Android app designed to help consumers save money on their electric bills while reducing their carbon footprint.
PDT leveraged the open Android platform and the Android community to make complicated, dynamic pricing programs available in an easy to understand format so consumers can easily see when is the best time to use or generate electricity.
The app helps track time of usage (TOU) programs as well, which are simpler to follow than dynamic pricing, but still can be fairly complex in certain utility markets. PDT’s user experience team made sure the entire experience was simple and intuitive.
For select regions, the app also provides the newest available spot price data, day ahead figures, or a smart price figure, a prediction for that region’s electricity services' final applicable prices, which is computed by Smart Power Devices' servers.
PDT was engaged to uncover and translate user driven and technological opportunities based upon an empirical understanding of use scenarios. Our established partnerships allowed us to gain first hand access to users. We observed and interviewed multiple stakeholders to identify how the equipment is used, stored, maintained, and transported.
Design requirements: Small Form Fits sets needed to store at least two waveforms. Handheld sets needed to store at least six waveforms. The tactical radio handheld set needed to store at least 10 waveforms. All Cluster 5 sets required GPS capability as well as automatic retransmission and routing capabilities.
Opportunities and solutions for modularity, function, comfort and usability were explored through quick prototyping that enabled true human scaled solutions while respecting the parameters of the applied technologies.
Cluster 5 included several variants of the Small Form Fit radio and two versions of the handheld radio- a single channel model and a two-channel model (with the objective of producing a three-channel version.) The manpack radio required two configurable channels (with an objective of four configurable channels).
PDT offered a solution for the Joint Tactical Radio System Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit (JTRS HMS) Cluster 5, managed in conjunction with the United States Army’s Program Manager for the Warfighter Information Network- Tactical (PM WIN-T).
PDT has lead the industrial design of Cobra's core radar detector business since 2000. By working together on a grueling 2 year cycle for the past eleven years, we have evolved the designs to help Cobra establish a strong brand, keeping them at the forefront of consumer desires.
Our team's active scouting efforts helped predict design influences, enabling alignment with visionary, breakthrough and highly commercial automotive design.
Imitation is the finest form of flattery. Soon after launch many manufacturers followed suit with remarkably similar details.
A consistent format and core layout continually met the needs of drivers and has therefore not necessitated a change to date.
However while necessity drives innovation, technology enables execution- from the adoption of next generation display types to pushing manufacturing processes to a cost competitive level. The Cobra radar detector line continues to respect the desires of its customer base while evolving to bring increased control and comfort.
By paying attention to the fine detail through every step of development and working closely with suppliers, we ensured that we kept focus on innovating within a highly price sensitive market. The result is no unforeseen compromises when features are taken to mass production.
Multiple SKU's, multiple price points. PDT worked with Cobra to establish a strong brand identity that can be dissected across the line without diluting the experience or the value.