Jun 07, 2012
Design Innovation for Future – EnhancingICT Industry Product Design 2012/06/07
At the “Design Innovation for Future” Forum held on day two of COMPUTEX
TAIPEI Ralph Wiegmann, Managing Director from iF International Forum Design
GmnH in Germany was the keynote speaker.
He outlined five key concepts for technology product designers and developers to serve worldwide markets:
1. Demographic change and universal design
2. Energy efficiency and sustainability
3. Product Carbon Footprint
4. Complexity and usability
5. Service Design
It is essential to think in terms of “universal design” and demographic shifts because there are many different target groups and “people clusters,” Wiegmann said, although he stressed that everyone wants products that are well-designed, easy-to-use and attractive.
The speaker presented examples of color-coded batteries where the positive (+) pole
can be determined by touch and the level of power remaining is indicated by the color of the battery. Another example of good universal design is an “easy grip,” walking stick that remains upright even after the grip is lost.
Addressing the second key concept, Wiegmann said that energy efficiency and sustainability are a challenge for all ICT industries and that as energy becomes more important technology products must be designed to consume less power.
The third major concept addressed was the “Product Carbon Footprint,” which is an
initiative led by Europe and Japan to label on all products. Such “environmental impact” labeling (with a ranking of one to six) is likely to become a global standard in the not too distant future.
“Taiwan companies must start to prepare for this change now because this international standard is coming and if you want to sell ICT products to Europe, you will be required to have this labeling,” Wiegmann said.
Discussing “complexity and usability,” he observed that most people want simple things without too many complicated parts so products should be designed with a minimal number of buttons and be operable with just a few quick steps. On “service design,” Wiegmann pointed out that after-sales service is often the key to creating customer loyalty.
Although the ICT industry always faces technology-related problems, customers do no want to deal with technology, they just want the product to work. Companies need to consider how best to serve their customers on that basis, with particular focus on after-sale service Wiegmann said.
When people get good service and the ICT product works well without being too complicated, customers are more likely to remain loyal because they have built up a positive relationship with the product.
Henrik Jeppesen, Managing Director and Industrial Designer at Attention, was the other keynote speaker at yesterday’s forum. Hailing from Denmark, Jeppesen’s talk was titled “Designing Competitive Edge: Deciphering the Now and the Next.”
He set out six main ideas for industry designers in his talk:
1. Understand the Now
2. What is Next - Nothing stays the same
3. Users are still the key
4. Designing competitive edge
5. What design methodology does
6. Vision of future trends
At the start of his address, Jeppesen said that being over 50-years of age he is already a “Digital Immigrant” – someone born before the advent of computers, the Internet, mobile phones and wireless technology. Such individuals are quite different from the younger generation or “Digital Natives” who grew up with digital technology and therefore have an intuitive understanding of ICT products.
It is important to “design for the future,” which means that industry engineers have the huge responsibility of developing products notfor themselves, but for future generations, Jeppesen said.
“It’s a Brave New World” and new designs must look to the next generation for ease of use, real plug-and-play and look appealing, he added.
Jeppesen had some advice for designers. First, don’t ask questions – observe how users interact with products, modify ideas, redesign prototypes, check out market and user response and repeat the process.
Other maxims Jeppsen offered were: “non-users are potential users” and “identify latent needs.” Although certain segments of society are ignored as potential customers, design with them in mind and they can become future customers.
Engineers needed to “simplify and eliminate unnecessary user steps so that technology translates into seamless interaction,” Jeppesen said.
He went on showcase a good design with a competitive edge - an Apple device with magnetically attached wire and a power connector. This design effectively eliminates the danger of people tripping over wires and dragging the product onto the floor.
Another example of a well-designed product designed by Jeppesen’s company is the
Bluetooth Headset, which comes with a power charger in its own carry case and fits behind the ear.