The International Design Excellence Awards, sponsored by the Industrial Designers Society of America, recognizes outstanding product design.
Categories include Commercial & Industrial, Medical & Scientific, and Student Designs. The judges weigh factors such as innovation, appropriate aesthetics, eco-friendliness, and benefit to users and society. Here’s a look at a few of this year’s winners.
Lift truck for heavy loads and tight spaces
Commercial & Industrial
The RC 5500 Rider Counterbalance Lift Truck for distribution centers is used primarily to load and unload trailers. The trucks can transport pallets weighing up to 4,000 lb and stack them up to 20 ft high. During a typical work shift, the machines repeatedly negotiate tight spaces found in busy, crowded loading docks. A side-stance operator compartment helps facilitate ease of movement in this environment. Design Central for Crown Equipment Corp.
A sporty wheelchair? Medical & Scientific (Concept)
The Balance Sport Wheelchair features a braking and turning system that lets athletes maintain control of the vehicle without using their hands, freeing the athletes to dribble, shoot, and pass. Leaning to the left or right turns the chair accordingly; leaning back slows and then stops it. Eric Larson, Ricky Biddle, IDSA
A better umbrella
The SENZ XL storm umbrella has an asymmetric design that finds the best position in the wind, making it comfortable and easy to use even in strong gusts. A patented construction makes the umbrella windproof up to 70 mph, and — the umbrella cannot invert. The opening mechanism is built into the handle. SENZ Umbrellas BV (The Netherlands)
Previously, most ergonomic data available to designers focused on the body shapes of Western populations. But their physiology differs from Chinese and South Asian people, particularly the shape of the head and face. Thus, Western measurements of helmets, face masks, and eyeglasses cause fit, comfort, and serious safety issues for non-Western users. Using digital-scanning technology, this project assembled data from a representative cross section of people from mainland China to create a digital database of Chinese head and face shapes. Now, designers wanting to reach the 2 billion people in the Southeast Asian market can better create products for this audience.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University (Hong Kong), Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands), Hong Kong Productivity Council (Hong Kong), Sheridan College, Institute of Technology (Canada), Technology Commission of the Government of Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region (Hong Kong), Strategic Sports HK Ltd. (Hong Kong), and New Era Cap Ltd.
“Flying stick” camera
People usually stiffen up when having their picture taken and saying “cheese” just makes them more uncomfortable. The FlyingStick camera eliminates these issues. Toss it in the air, and the device takes pictures by itself. Because no one knows when the shutter is released, more natural pictures result. The built-in face-detection technology can recognize up to seven faces in a photo and controls focus, exposure, color, and flash. Jong Heui Lee, In Su Wang, and Young don Lee of Nilfish (South Korea)
Tents for crisis relief
Commercial & Industrial
The Rapidly Deployable Shelter (RDS) line of large tents for military use and crisis relief feature deployable trusses, using gears as a structural element. The durable, lightweight design lets the units be set up in minutes. Tents can withstand 65-mph winds and snow loads up to 10 lb/ft2. They come in several sizes — the largest opens to 695 ft2 and folds to a 3 3.5 6 ft bundle. Hoberman Associates and Johnson Outdoors
3D puzzle for kids
Oblo is a 3D puzzle for children. In order to progress from one level to the next, users must find the correct position for each piece that lets it be removed. The spherical pieces can be rotated 360° and different colors emphasize the different diameters of the layers. Pavlovic of University of Zagreb (Croatia/ Hrvatska)
Four-in-one pharmacy tool
Medical & Scientific
This handheld tool assists pharmacists with the repetitive tasks of opening medicine bottles and counting pills to fill patient prescriptions. The tool breaks moisture seals, removes cotton from bottles, acts as a spatula for counting pills, and has tweezers for sanitary hands-off retrieval of any stray pills accidentally spilled during the filling procedure. PharmaDesign Inc. for Ortho-McNeil Janssen Pharmaceutical Services
Curved shear for delicate surgeries
Medical & Scientific
The Harmonic Focus Curved Shear lets surgeons dissect, grasp, and cut tissue. It is powered ultrasonically through what’s called the Harmonic Blue Hand Piece (transducer), which turns electrical energy into mechanical motion. That the shear uses ultrasonic technology eliminates electricity passing to or through the patient, suiting the device well for delicate surgeries that require precision instrumentation, such as head and neck surgeries and breast-tissue dissection. Ethicon Endo Surgery and Design Science