The 2001 Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEA), cosponsored by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) and Business Week magazine, honored 189 award winners with 44 Golds, 63 silvers, and 82 Bronzes from a record number 1,260 entries. Winners were selected from 11 categories ranging from business and industrial products to student designs.

Judging is based on design innovation, benefit to consumers, environmental responsibility, aesthetics, and appeal. All awards mentioned are Gold unless otherwise noted.

Solving Web issues
The Voyager WebPad is a wireless Web browser and e-mail appliance for the home that can be used nearly anywhere except, perhaps, the bathtub. When closed, the 2.3-lb unit can be used as a tablet with touchscreen navigation. The display adjusts up for viewing and the keyboards pulls out with a finger hold. When the keyboard pulls out with a finger hole. When the keyboard is out, the unit's handle retracts to maintain a small footprint. The display frame has soft keys in each corner for instant home, mail, www, and special ISP functions. Designer: Whipsaw Inc., San Jose, Price: $429.

A level above
For professional and do-it-yourself home construction, levels are essential tools. The bronze-award-winning Stanley FatMax magnetic level features unbreakable acrylic vials, and an extruded aluminum body with TPR hand grip and replaceable end caps. The end caps protect the level and work surfaces from damage. Also ceramic magnets sit in protective ABS carriers in the base so the levels and adhere to metal studs or ductwork. Designer: The Stanley Works, New Britain, Conn. Price: $14.99.

High-tech mouse
The IntelliMouse Optical eliminates standard rubber rollers used in other mouse-tracking devices. An optical sensor reads the surface passing under the mouse. And, because there are no rollers, there's no dust and dirt accumulation that troubles most mouse devices. Also, back and forward controls on the sides of the IntelliMouse give easy page access while surfing the Web, instead of relying on tool bars. To top it all off, it looks cool. Injection-molded ABS with a metallic paint finish accented neutral grey coordinates with most PCs. Designer: Microsoft, Redmond, Wash. Price: $49.

Taking a bite out of Apple
Claimed to be the lightest and thinnest laptop on the market, the 1-in.-thick Titanium PowerBook G4 weighs in at 5.3 lb. Designers stretched a formed titanium skin over a carbon-fiber frame for a rigid but lightweight unit. The Titanium G4 has a 15.2-in. monitor, a boon over traditional 14-in. desktop displays. The G4 is not all good looks, however. The full-featured laptop includes a slot-load DVD drive, full I/O, and a 5-hr lithium-ion battery. Designer: Apple Design Team, Cupertino, Calif. Price: $2,599 to $3,499.

Testhead gets a fresh, new look
The Kalos testhead tests flash-memory chips, up to 128 at a time. Said to be the fastest and most powerful chiptester on the market today, the 800-lb unit evaluates chips both in circuit-board assemblies and when they are still in wafer form. This saves manufacturing costs by identifying faulty chips prior to final assembly.

To improve traditional testheads, designers faced space constraints, airflow ventilation, costs, inner chamber accessibility, and cable-management issues. Keeping the original small footprint, airflow routes through the center and out the sides. Many existing parts are used to keep costs down. The top cover hinges in a "salon-door" fashion, locating the opening mechanisms of the eight chambers along a central axis. This lets operators access each inner chamber from one location. The left side panel supports four cables running from the front to the back of the testhead where they join another four cables and attach to a remote server. The testhead has a modern look, thanks to pressure-formed ABS, aluminum casting, and formed sheet metal. Designer: frog design inc., Sunnyvale, Calif. Price: $1 million.

Futuristic fridge
The Duo Bidirectional door refrigerator concept has rotary drawer shelves, a movable caddy home bar and table, and a voice-memo communicator. Bidirectional doors give access to both sides of the refrigerator. The drawers pull out as well as rotate. The bottom half of the refrigerator is a moving home bar with temperature controls for different beverages that doubles as a table when removed. The voice-message communicator lets family members keep in touch. This next-generation refrigerator leaves only one thing to be desired — a freezer. Designer: LG Electronics Inc., Seoul, Korea. Price: N/A.

Digital and conventional shake hands
The silver-award-winning EFS-1 digital imaging system instantly converts a conventional camera into a digital one. An (e)film cartridge fits the top five pro-amateur 35-mm SLR cameras on the market. The (e)film cartridge uses 64 Mbyte of nonvolatile flash memory to capture and store up to 24, 36-bit, 1.3-megapixel digital images. An LED displays picture count and battery status. An (e)port carrier serves as the (e)film's protective housing. It's also USB equipped and doubles as a PC-card link to a laptop computer and as a junction to an (e)box storage module. The (e)box is flash-card compatible, adding memory to the system. The (e)film cartridge drops into the (e)port carrier for storage and image downloading. Designer: IDE Inc., Scotts Valley, Calif. Price: $699.

Teaching an old hammer new tricks
The Silver-award-winning Ridgid Robohammer is a new twist on an old standby. Currently, when hammers drive nails, the impact sends shock waves to the hand. The Robohammer reduces recoil and vibration to the hand and arm, but also has a steel shaft for durability. A thin slot cut into the head ends at an oval-shaped hole containing a shock-absorbing insert. On impact, the head flexes, the sides of the slot touch, and energy normally lost in recoiling action is redirected back into the nail. The three-layered elastomeric handle has a flared base for a firm grip. Also, gripping the offset shaft helps keep distance between the hand and hammering surface, reducing the likelihood of hammering your thumb. Designer: Emerson Tool Co., St. Louis. Price: $30.

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