Hot new industrial designs

Sept. 18, 2003
The 2003 Industrial Design Excellence Awards (IDEA), cosponsored by the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) and Business Week magazine, honored 121 winners with 38 Golds, 38 Silvers, and 45 Bronzes.

Major design trends for entries included getting back to basics and everyday problem solving. Each entry was judged according to design innovation, benefits provided, ecological responsibility, as well as aesthetics and general appeal. All awards mentioned are Gold unless otherwise noted.

Digital camera slims down

The credit-card size of the Logitech Pocket Digital camera appeals to the most techno-savvy user. The camera turns on automatically when the lens cover slides open. The internal battery recharges automatically via a USB hook-up while images (up to 52 in full 1.3-Mbit resolution) download to your PC with a single click. The camera is housed in an injection-molded polycarbonate frame with a brushed aluminum skin. At the end of the camera's useful life, the aluminum skin peels away so the lithium-polymer battery can be removed for recycling. The digital camera weighs only 1.8 oz and measures 88 3 56 3 9 mm. Designers: IDEO Inc., Palo Alto, Calif., MOTO Development Group, San Francisco, and Logitech, Fremont, Calif. Price: $129.

Bigger and thinner: An oxymoron?

The 17-in. display on the PowerBook G4 is the largest yet on a portable computer, able to show two full pages at once. And, it's the thinnest notebook at 1-in. thick that Apple has produced to date. The PowerBook sits in a die-cast aluminum frame wrapped with aircraft-grade aluminum outer skins. The display bezel is machined from forged aluminum to support the size and weight of the display module.

The legends on the full-sized keyboard are backlit by hundreds of thin fiber-optic strands. The brightness of the strands and display backlight adjust automatically depending on the ambient light present. The keyboard hard-mounts to the palm-rest case, giving it a solid feel. The 17-in. PowerBook also comes equipped with advanced wireless technology built-in: Airport Extreme for networking and Bluetooth for connecting to peripherals. A slot-loading SuperDrive also comes standard. Designers:Apple Industrial Design Group, Cupertino, Calif. Price: 1,799.

What is it?

It's not quite a motorcycle, it looks cooler than the Segway Human Transporter, and it beats a scooter. The Embrio is a peek into the future of recreational transportation: a one-wheeler vehicle that's environmentally friendly to boot.

A fuel cell juiced by hydrogen is the main power source. The 360-lb Embrio also boasts a series of sensors, gyroscopes, a high-performance braking system, active suspension, night vision, robotic assistance, and crash-proofing. A digitally encoded learning key starts the engine, and drivers press a trigger on the handle to move forward. For stopping power, the landing gears retract at just over 12 mph. To turn, the driver leans into the desired side. Another trigger engages the brakes. The additional front wheels are for back up if, for example, the gyroscope fails during riding or parking. Designer: Bombardier Recreational Products, Quebec, Canada. Price: $10,200.

Combating heart attacks at home

According to Philips Medical Systems, more than 70% of sudden cardiac arrests happen at home, with a survival rate of less than 5%. The HeartStart Home defibrillator is the first automatic external defibrillator to receive FDA clearance specifically for home use. The 3.3-lb unit is said to be easy to operate and can be used by nearly anyone.

To operate, simply open the case and pull the green handle to initiate voice prompts that guide you through the process. Another feature, voice coaching for adult or infant/child CPR, gives instructions and audio cues for each breath as well as the correct number, rate, and depth of chest compressions. Also, if a shock is needed, the defibrillator will tell the user to press the orange flashing button to deliver a shock, and will repeat if another shock is necessary. Designer: Philips Medical Systems, Seattle. Price: $2,295.

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