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The Best Product Designs of 2006

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the shiny-toys-get-recognition dept.

78

conq writes "BusinessWeek has made available IDSA's annual list of the best designed products of the year." From the article: "The Talking Tactile Tablet system allows visually impaired individuals to access graphic imagery they otherwise would not be able to enjoy. Instead of using Braille, which the majority of visually impaired people do not read, users hear audio descriptions of each component of an image. Key considerations of the design were ease-of-use, ruggedness, cost and providing a pleasing aesthetic experience, namely how the product feels."

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78 comments

Fleshlight (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 7 years ago | (#15631722)

Snubbed again.

Re:Fleshlight (2, Funny)

AutopsyReport (856852) | more than 7 years ago | (#15631808)

Who are you talking to? Get with the times, man. The Fleshlight is still virgin territory around here.

Re:Fleshlight (2, Funny)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#15631957)

They come with a intact hymen now?!

Re:Fleshlight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15633058)

No, but a Japanese equivalent does. Even comes with a small bottle of red lube...

Not that I'd know about such things of course.

Ouch! (2, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#15631723)

That picture of the rescue tool looks exactly like the 'lower-human-horn harvester' from Futurama!

As a firefighter... (2, Insightful)

ModernGeek (601932) | more than 7 years ago | (#15631857)

...those rescue tools look like they would break easy, especially whenever the main focus seems to be that they are updated to match the companies new style. Anything like that in the fire service is going to be all charred and nasty looking after 6 months of use no matter how much you clean and degrease/regrease it. Rescue tools need to be ergonomic for about 2-3 firefighters to hold them, not one person like the design seems to imply. Oh, and number 34, who is going to run with a flashlight?

Re:As a firefighter... (3, Funny)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#15631987)

who is going to run with a flashlight?

Usually just bad actresses with oversized breasts who are being chased by large men in ugly costumes.

Not new... (4, Insightful)

jdray (645332) | more than 7 years ago | (#15632119)

Number 16, the self-erecting tent, is an exact duplicate of the PopTent. My wife and I have had one for years and love it. They were featured in the (bad) movie Congo.

Furthermore, they award Lenovo for a cheeseball "all in one" design desktop when the tried and true iMac (flatscreen model) has been around for two years or more? Who are these people?

Re:Not new... (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 7 years ago | (#15632360)

I believe (Though I could be wrong) that Quechua was the original.

Re:Not new... (1)

jdray (645332) | more than 7 years ago | (#15632397)

Okay, but how does that make it a "best design of 2006" ??

Re:Not new... (1)

ErroneousBee (611028) | more than 7 years ago | (#15635235)

Indeed, I spotted several 'designs' that were just retreads of older designs, existing products with an iPod redesign, or just plain stupid.

Several airilon chairs, windup torches, a plate, a bowl.

And I bet most of them will look rubbish when not in a nicely lit studio, particularly industrial stuff with an iPod finish.

Re:Not new... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15635587)

They are OK if the weather isn't too bad, but they are only really suitable for car camping IMHO.

Advantages:
- Instant pitch.
- Look nice.
- Fairly light.
- Cheap.

Disadvantages:
- Hardly any porch space.
- Pack size is poor (stowed configuration is a disc about 2 feet in diameter).
- Unsuitable for serious weather*.

Having said that they are quite handy. They make an excellent second tent to put the kids in if you are out camping somewhere.

*They hold up surprisingly well in wind, but I prefer a 4 season mountain tent myself.

Re:Not new... (1)

captainjaroslav (893479) | more than 7 years ago | (#15635877)

Wow, this has been out for hours and nobody has made a joke about you and your wife and your self-erecting tent? Well, I'm not going to lower myself to that. I'm leaving that one alone. Yes Sir. No boner jokes here.

Re:Not new... (1)

jdray (645332) | more than 7 years ago | (#15636314)

Everyone's probably afraid I'd respond with some smarmy story about things that have gone on in our self-erecting tent (indeed, you take off the strap and it pops right up).

Before We Announce the Best of 2006... (5, Insightful)

RoadDoggFL (876257) | more than 7 years ago | (#15631733)

Should we let it finish first?

Re:Before We Announce the Best of 2006... (1)

PFI_Optix (936301) | more than 7 years ago | (#15631810)

Why? The year is pretty much over anyway. 2007 model cars are hitting the streets, Wal*Mart is starting to stock their fall apparel and recreational goods (the day after the first day of summer, for the record) and politicians have already stopped talking about 2006 and started talking about 2008.

Re:Before We Announce the Best of 2006... (1)

bcat24 (914105) | more than 7 years ago | (#15631811)

Nope, sorry. All products released from now till 2007 must be crap. You may begin releasing good products in 2007. Thank you.

Re:Before We Announce the Best of 2006... (1)

ZeroExistenZ (721849) | more than 7 years ago | (#15631824)

Well there are 108 "winners".

They wouldn't mind adding another 100 before January I'd think :-\

Re:Before We Announce the Best of 2006... (1)

bcat24 (914105) | more than 7 years ago | (#15631845)

OMG! There are 108 winners! The whole list must be cursed! The numbers are bad!

(If you don't understand my sig, you won't understand this post.)

Re:Before We Announce the Best of 2006... (1)

Drachemorder (549870) | more than 7 years ago | (#15632072)

Makes me wonder if the folks who made that list are LOST fans too, or if it's just one of those coincidences.

Re:Before We Announce the Best of 2006... (4, Interesting)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 7 years ago | (#15632009)

That's the /. editor's fault. These are the "2006 IDEA Awards" which means they take place in 2006. The 2006 Academy Awards did not hand out Oscars for the best movies of 2006 either.

And some highlights for me...

  • AMD Personal Internet Communicator [businessweek.com] - A replacement for the $100 laptop?
  • DX1 Input System [businessweek.com] - very programmable keyboard-type device
  • Water Tile [businessweek.com] - the coolest showerhead I've ever seen
  • $100 Laptop [businessweek.com] - wait, here's the actual laptop
  • The Nutty Buddy [businessweek.com] - the ??? before profit was "testicle protection" in this case
  • Water Tile [businessweek.com] - To quote the byline, "This design strategy uses brand identity to revitalize the image of condoms and redefine traditional condom distribution channels"
  • Sun x4100 servers [businessweek.com] - if you're into that sort of thing
  • City Wing [businessweek.com] - LED streetlights
  • Airwash [businessweek.com] - doing laundry without water


What does sadden me is that the most popular category for winners seemed to be office chairs. How amazingly boring.

Re:Before We Announce the Best of 2006... (2, Interesting)

tacarat (696339) | more than 7 years ago | (#15632646)

I really like the Cocoon disaster relief shelters [businessweek.com]. They sort of remind me of japanese capsule hotels, plus they seem very practical. I went to the company website and couldn't find any references to being an "open source design" as the article indicated, though.

Re:Before We Announce the Best of 2006... (1)

Monkier (607445) | more than 7 years ago | (#15635741)

Must be hard to rethink up the ideas for those tag lines
  • Water Tile - "...rethinks the whole idea of showers."
  • Airwash - "...rethinks the idea of doing laundry."

Re:Before We Announce the Best of 2006... (1)

johansalk (818687) | more than 7 years ago | (#15640283)

"Water Tile [businessweek.com] - the coolest showerhead I've ever seen" ... I respectfully disagree. It's stupid. This is an example of a needless "invention" that worsens on an existing simple and very versatile solution (the handheld shower head). Just tell me, how do you wash your butt with this Water Tile?

Re:Before We Announce the Best of 2006... (1)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 7 years ago | (#15632088)

Eh, whatever. It should really be called the 2005/2006 awards.

Next year's 2007 awards will include everything from the second half of 2006 and the first half of 2007.

Won't Work (5, Funny)

thecommenter (985914) | more than 7 years ago | (#15631814)

The SignalOneSafety Vocal Smoke Detector uses a parent's recorded voice to wake children in case of a fire and provide them with evacuation instructions.
Shut up Mom, I wanna sleep 5 more minutes before school!

What the.... ? (5, Interesting)

Onan (25162) | more than 7 years ago | (#15631831)

When did it suddenly become okay to have "web" "pages" with no actual content at all, just javascript that serves no purpose but to echo html?

So I guess I won't be seeing this list. But I have a pretty clear idea of a site that won't be making my own list of best designed anything ever...

Re:What the.... ? (4, Funny)

bcat24 (914105) | more than 7 years ago | (#15631882)

When did it suddenly become okay to have "web" "pages" with no actual content at all, just javascript that serves no purpose but to echo html?
Welcome to the Web 2.0! It's like old technologies put together to make new buzzwords.

Re:What the.... ? (2)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 7 years ago | (#15631989)

It's like old technologies put together to make new buzzwords.

Like the synergistically barried implemention of the MaxZip-8 BetaTracker component? It was way too scalar for the mod '06 vectories, anyway. Talk about your heuristically esoteric maloprop via constructurally ubiquitous metatyping. *pfft*

Re:What the.... ? (1)

zaphod_es (613312) | more than 7 years ago | (#15631926)

I guess that a totally blank page is probably a lot more interesting than their meaningless list. When I had the same problem I could have used the Firefox NoScript plugin to allow JS but I just could not be bothered to make the effort.

Maybe they will win a nomination for the worst designed product in the rest of 2006.

Is it 2007 already? (0, Redundant)

Sebastopol (189276) | more than 7 years ago | (#15631925)

Jeez, talk about jumping the gun for content... at least wait for the corpse to cool (Like, February).

Surveillance Dome Camera??? (3, Insightful)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#15631928)

Surveillance Dome Camera? Are they kidding? These have been popping out of the ceilings of retail stores for many years. Are they getting recognition for painting part of it silver?

I stopped scanning through the list after that.

Re:Surveillance Dome Camera??? (3, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 7 years ago | (#15632788)

Are they getting recognition for painting part of it silver?


As these are product DESIGN awards and not product INNOVATION awards, the answer is yes.

Re:Surveillance Dome Camera??? (1)

joeljkp (254783) | more than 7 years ago | (#15636762)

Read the description; it does a whole lot more than capture video.

Note that I don't know if this is the first to do all these things or not.

Nutty Buddy?!?! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15632007)

Holy crap! It's such a painfully glorious and obvious name. This thing deserves every possible prize it can get.

http://images.businessweek.com/ss/06/06/idea2006/s ource/53.htm [businessweek.com]

Re:Nutty Buddy?!?! (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 7 years ago | (#15633163)

Wonder what Henry VIII called it?

http://tinyurl.com/ed5ds [tinyurl.com]

rj

Re:Nutty Buddy?!?! (1)

Ohreally_factor (593551) | more than 7 years ago | (#15634752)

I think in the old days they used to refer to such a device as a "halibut piece" or something like that.

Re:Nutty Buddy?!?! (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 7 years ago | (#15636110)

Maybe whalepiece in his case. No problem figuring out where his insecurities lay...;-)

Also interesting that the armor is 54 inches around the chest. Photos of it in official publications like the Tower of London guidebook are direct front views, which make the codpiece less obvious.

rj

Wait, so Lenovo gets in the top 10... (2, Insightful)

ral8158 (947954) | more than 7 years ago | (#15632163)

And no Mac does? Where have these people been?

Re:Wait, so Lenovo gets in the top 10... (2, Informative)

justthinkit (954982) | more than 7 years ago | (#15632703)

I saw Lenovo in there twice, and there were duplicate pages for a shoe as well.

Re:Wait, so Lenovo gets in the top 10... (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 7 years ago | (#15632963)

The competition is probably only open to new designs, and Apple has released very few new case designs in the last year.

Re:Wait, so Lenovo gets in the top 10... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15632989)

That Lenovo OPTI-PC or whatever it is called is the ugliest looking computer I have ever seen. It looks like something that should be in a bus station men's room.

Re:Wait, so Lenovo gets in the top 10... (1)

mjwx (966435) | more than 7 years ago | (#15633392)

Quiet obviously these people have been using a Mac.

Re:Wait, so Lenovo gets in the top 10... (1)

TheDreadSlashdotterD (966361) | more than 7 years ago | (#15634376)

I didn't get it either, but from TFA:
The design objective of this modular multimedia PC was to respond to the unique needs of Chinese consumers--specifically power users--and harmonize with Chinese culture. The team resisted a one-size-fits-all solution and instead sought cultural insight to drive the design.

I guess the Chinese would find this ULTLA HIGH-TECHE. We've seen it all before, so we know what to call it: Mac Reject.

Re:Wait, so Lenovo gets in the top 10... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15634621)

There are design awards, not Apple-fanboy awards, Apple isn't all that great lately.

Re:Wait, so Lenovo gets in the top 10... (1)

Emetophobe (878584) | more than 7 years ago | (#15637380)

And no Mac does? Where have these people been? You have to look at the Top 10 Fisher-Price design awards.

Is this supposed to be objective (3, Insightful)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 7 years ago | (#15632339)

Because it seems like these people are in bed with Panasonic and Kodak. Both Panasonic devices that I have seen (a laundry machine/dryer, and a refrigerator with a pullout drawer) have competition from LG and many other manufacturers and do not have features that really set it apart. The two Kodak models are interesting in design but definetely not the best out there. I'm starting to wonder how usefull this list is if you can just buy your way in because your product looks cool.

Re:Is this supposed to be objective (3, Interesting)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 7 years ago | (#15632642)

As a designer I'll contest to the IDSA not being "in bed" with anyone... aside from industrial designers... and perhaps collective gatherings in pubs.

Take the Reveal CT-80 on page 6.
http://images.businessweek.com/ss/06/06/idea2006/s ource/6.htm [businessweek.com]
That explosive detection machine may not scan as many bags per hour as the competition, but it is intuitive, affordable, and miles ahead of the competition when you consider how the machine exists within an environment or how users interact with the hardware.

I'm not saying engineering and features are not important, I'm simply saying those products are reviewed on a number of levels.

In the case of that camera I wouldn't spend time harping on what isn't there. I'd concentrate on why a panel of seasoned industrial designers found value in that particular product.

Pluma (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15632473)

Not only do their containers look great, but so do their commercials [google.com].

well, based on Beta 3... (0, Offtopic)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 7 years ago | (#15632486)

IE7 won't be winning any 'best designed' awards. The UI still looks and works like a Fisher-Price toy, though at least the standard menu bar has returned. The customization of the UI is still a joke, though. C'mon, MS, you're almost there!

I do like the 'Quick Tabs' feature, though - pretty slick.

Sweet Chair (2, Interesting)

JTSmith (978566) | more than 7 years ago | (#15632502)

Think I'll take that Herman Miller Chair...

Re:Sweet Chair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15633123)

Man, what I realy need is that aluminium fruit bowl:

The design team found that aluminum panels offer superior structural
strength through the channels of corrugated ridges.


I got some _reeeeaaaaaallll_ heavy fruit.

Dull (2, Insightful)

Leolo (568145) | more than 7 years ago | (#15632614)

I flipped through all the designs. While many of the products ideas seem cool, the implementations are dull. Dull as in grey grey grey grey and more grey, with some black highlights if you are lucky.

What are these designers afraid of? Are they scared of evoking an emotion? Even the house [marmolradzinerprefab.com] they laud is grey.

May we have some colour, please?

Re:Dull (1)

vistic (556838) | more than 7 years ago | (#15632792)

While I don't disagree with what you say in general...

From your link: "We manufacture each module in the factory to include your choice of exterior and interior finishes"

Those images are blueprints (well... "greyprints") not the actual house color.

Number five is a crock (2, Interesting)

BcNexus (826974) | more than 7 years ago | (#15633000)

The fifth item of 108, a 23 lumen LED projector from Samsung is worthless. I would much rather have the monochrome laser projector [audioholics.com] from Light Blue Optics [lightblueoptics.com], mentioned before, I think on /. From the editorial at Audioholics:
"Understand that there is no glass, no prisms, NO MOVING PARTS, and no need for fans to provide heat dissipation. In addition, it runs on less than 1.5W at full power and less than 350mW while displaying typical video images (50% average pixel amplitude. There is also an infinite focus, meaning that no matter how close or far away, there are no optics to adjust for a clear picture"

It's more legible than the Samsung, uses less power, is smaller, and has INFINITE focus. It is however, just monochrome, but I would still enjoy an anywhere projector like that. I could use it for displaying video, cell phone video chat, pictures, movies, ads, reading... I want one!

Re:Number five is a crock (1)

SamSim (630795) | more than 7 years ago | (#15635168)

Monochrome laser projector, eh? If you can format your video signal properly, could you not get three of them, one with a red filter, one with a green one, one with a blue one, and combine them to get a full colour picture?

More info on the touchgraphics tablet. (2, Informative)

glowworm (880177) | more than 7 years ago | (#15633507)

Although just skimmed over in the precis, as no one else seems to have commented I will say the tablet would be quite handy in some school settings.

Right now our school employs a aide to copy graphical information onto paper with puff-ink or an embossing wheel. She traces the pictures and the ink expands and is "readable" by the visually impared kids we have, the wheel on the other hand leaves an impression in the paper that feels like braille.

Both these techniques lets them "see" the shape of squares, triangles, countries - even letters that you or I read. The biggest disadvantage is that the aide needs to be with the child as they learn to give a description of what is being seen. With this system and pre-prepared sheets the child can explore graphical images in their own way without another person being with them.

The web page is at http://www.touchgraphics.com/ttt.htm [touchgraphics.com] if anyone is interested in looking more.

By the way, for all the web developers out there, we find that many pages are not really accessable; tables for layout are generally a PITA to read, CSS works very nicely though.

Just like you create a web page then test it in Opera, FFx, Safari, Konqueror, Lynx and IE you should run it through a JAWS simulator. JAWS is the main Windows based text to speech screen reading tool many visually impared people use. JAWS Demo from Here [freedomscientific.com] FANGS is a firefox extension [standards-...ndards.com] that simulates what a visually impared person will see if they are using JAWS (FANGS is easier than JAWS for sighted people to use as you don't need to learn a heap of key bindings). Please add it to your arsenal of testing tools.

Tablet that describes images? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15633656)

Now anyone can enjoy goatse There is a man bending over. There is a left hand grabbing a left butt. There is a right hand grabbing a right butt. There is a gaping hole.

June 30th, 2006? (0, Redundant)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 7 years ago | (#15633987)

With several more months left, how can they possibly make a "Best of 2006" list? It isn't over yet!

Entertaining ad-copy... (1)

Jack Johnson (836341) | more than 7 years ago | (#15634570)

From the description of #47, the BRP EXIT Concept...

"Responding to the lifestyle cues of Generation Y users, designers imbued the vehicle with a counter-cultural, non-conventional aesthetic, finding inspiration in the insect world with its soft, rounded surfacing crossed with sharp edges." That reads like it was ripped straight from a sitcom script about marketers who "don't get it".

Visually impaired and illiterate? (2, Insightful)

Frantactical Fruke (226841) | more than 7 years ago | (#15634884)

As far as I know, learning Braille is an essential part of the education/rehabilitation of visually impaired people in Europe. What do they teach in America, if a "majority of visually impaired people do not read" it?

not really 108 items (1)

ratonu (868505) | more than 7 years ago | (#15634909)

I went as far as 70 products and surprise: Mion Footwear is featured twice. Same picture, same description. Should i get it that they payed twice? In this case should i trust any of the "objective" recommendations in the article?

I hear cement cracking in China... (1)

edgedmurasame (633861) | more than 7 years ago | (#15635010)

Lenovo cemented its commitment to high-value design by acquiring IBM's PC (ThinkPad) business unit

That commitment somehow got lost in the Congress bribery^W^W sale of IBM PCD.

No, by the looks of things, they want to turn IBM Thinkpads into another low-quality Dell. So far they've
been on the mark on reaching that goal ever since they were given access to the T43 and the T60 and the
literal cheapness (in the worst sense) of the construction is creeping in. The only thing that even saves
them is the part that IBM support has in cleaning up the mess.


The most that Lenovo has made has really been a knockoff, or designs on par with Sony. Looks good, crumbles fast.

Hover Creeper (1)

chrisb33 (964639) | more than 7 years ago | (#15637144)

It seems like everyone is missing the coolest product - the Hover Creeper! [businessweek.com]. This is cool to begin with (hovering around under cars) but think of the possibilities! To name a few:

Fun:
-Sledding
-Bobsled racing
-Back-to-the-future style hoverboard (though it might have trouble if you're standing up)

Serious:
-Getting across potential landmine areas - yes, you're still pushing against the ground, but your weight is distributed so it would probably be much safer
-The ultimate luggage - forget wheels, have your luggage (or backpack!) float behind you!


Is there a reason no one else is excited about this?

Re:Hover Creeper (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15641145)

Because you would need to bring an air compressor and a long hose to go sledding.
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