Where Science Meets Muse

Posts Tagged ‘Case Studies’

The Power of Words Over Images – A Lesson From a Bad Design

Posted by Plish on October 3, 2010

I know it’s easier to criticize bad design than to compliment good design but sometimes a bad design screams for recognition. 

The other day I needed some color copies for a lunch meeting so I got up early, and with bleary eyes, trekked over to Kinko’s.  The copy was on the light side and I needed to darken it up.  I was getting frustrated because I kept adjusting the image quality and my copies weren’t getting any darker. Take a few seconds to look at the image of the touchscreen below and see if you can see what the problem was.

Yup, it’s the Lighten/Darken terminology on the screen.  The problem is that the word ‘lighten’ corresponds with darker bands and ‘darken’ with lighter bands.   Sure if I only looked at the bands I would have realized that moving the slider towards the ‘darken’ side would actually make the copy lighter but I didn’t.  It was early, I was in a hurry and I trusted the words on the screen to describe exactly what hitting the arrows would do: lighten and darken.  I kept hitting the arrow on the right and my copies weren’t getting any darker. I seriously thought there was a bug in the software.

Words are important.  Eye-tracking studies of websites showed that people go to text first then to images.  When looking for instructions on a touchscreen, words are used to guide users to the section of the screen where programming changes can be made.  But, in this case, the words confused the matter.

The bottom line is, don’t underestimate the power of words – after all, you’ve read them in spite of the arrow pointing up at the top of this entry.

Posted in Case Studies, Customer Focus, Design, Ergonomics, problem solving, User Interface | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Creative Non-Solution

Posted by Plish on December 10, 2008

When we feel pain our natural tendency is to shield the area from further pain and find out what caused it in the first place.   When we find the source, we eliminate it and hopefully this stops the pain.

In the world of products we often follow the same process.  We find the cause and then make changes to the design, or fabrication process,  and hope this solves the problem.  Often it does.  But there are other times when a design is so sensitive (not necessarily a good design) that these changes do not fix the situation and often make things worse.

The creative response to these solutions is often a non-fix, or so it seems.   What is it?

Let the design tell you what it wants-then give it to the design!

This was the case in a situation where a medical device was malfuntioning due to a cracking delrin arch.  When the device was used, the arch would crack repeatably in the same location.  The first response was the typical one:

“The stresses are too high, redesign to minimize the stresses.” 

 Efforts to change the material and design, while eliminating the crack, also severely impacted the performance of the device.  Something else needed to be done.

The solution?

“Fail” the part before it cracked.  In other words, eliminate the stressed area.  This resulted in the device functioning as designed.

If You Cannot Eliminate a Problem, Use The Problem as The Solution
If You Cannot Eliminate a Problem, Use The Problem as The Solution

Can you share other times this type of thinking worked?

Posted in Case Studies, Creative Thinking Techniques, Design, idea generation, Plastic Parts, problem solving, Workplace Creativity, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Cup Noodles – More Than Sodium in a Cup

Posted by Plish on November 29, 2008


The following video is a great summary of the creative process and the innovation of Cup Noodles

Simplicity is key to this product.  There’s some great marketing ideas in here as well.

Posted in Case Studies, Creativity Videos, culture of innovation, Design, idea generation, innovation | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Fly Me To The Moon, Baby!

Posted by Plish on November 20, 2008

Sometimes we think there is no way to improve on a technology, no way to to make it more human, more beautiful, more zen.  Sometimes it seems like there is an impenetrable wall to advancement.  Today’s case study shows otherwise.

Duck Young Kong's, "Lunar Baby Thermometer"

The Lunar Baby Thermometer

This wonderful, ergonomic, new forehead thermometer just SCREAMS human touch! Designed by Duck Young Kong, this design is simple, elegant and just plain cool.  It is almost like there isn’t a thermometer there and yet the person takes the temperature and touches the patient in a loving manner.

The exercise in creativity for today?  Find something commonplace and redesign it.  There’s always room for improvement.

Posted in Case Studies, Creative Thinking Techniques, Design, Ergonomics, innovation, problem solving, ZenStorming | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Case Study: All Waters Are Not The Same

Posted by Plish on November 12, 2008

Which One Is Less Than Optimal Design?

Which One Is Less Than Optimal Design?

Take a look at the above picture.  Which one is designed less than optimally?  It’s actually ironic.  There are three different approaches to optimizing the water pouring experience.  However, one product doesn’t do the best job of addressing what happens before the bottle reaches the consumer. Think about it.

You take your bottle of water off the shelf and bring it to the register.  You place it on the belt and the cashier scans the bottles price.  It doesn’t scan. 

She tries again. 

No dice. She turns the bottle on the side and it finally scans.

The center bottle of Ice Mountain has its barcode above the level of the scanner.

Bar Code Is Above The Level of Most Scanners

Bar Code Is Above The Level of Most Scanners

A quick rendering (below) of the alternative shows that it looks pretty good. Reading the lettering is harder in the mountains.  My guess (and no offense to Marketing) is that the decision to have the bar code higher was largely an aesthetic decision.   A creative and very cool, grippable bottle makes a sacrifice in design that the folks at the cash register have to pay for.

Flip-Flopping Info And Bar Code

Flip-Flopping Info And Bar Code

Posted in Case Studies, innovation, problem solving | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Case Study: Robotic Walking-Assist Device

Posted by Plish on November 8, 2008

ASIMO, The Forerunner of This Device

ASIMO, The Forerunner of This Device

Honda's Robotic Assist Device
Robotic Assist Device From Honda


Kudo’s to Honda for leveraging their Asimo technology and adapting it to direct human application!   Show’s again how utilizing an existing technology and simply tweaking it can result in a radically new and exciting device.    From the Google Press Release:

The 6.5 kilogramme (14.3-pound) device — consisting of a saddle, leg-like frames and shoes — can reduce the load on users’ legs while walking or climbing and descending stairs by supporting bodyweight, Honda said.

Honda said the motor-powered machine is still at an experimental stage, but elderly people and people undergoing rehabilitation who need support for their leg muscles and joints are the main target.

The device is also expected to help assembly workers to keep a crouching position, Honda said, adding that it plans to test the device at one of its factories north of Tokyo.

Just goes to show that it’s not about being “outside the box” per se, but more like bringing the contents of two boxes into a room and dumping the contents of both on the table!

Posted in Case Studies, Creative Thinking Techniques, idea generation, problem solving | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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