Foamy Headphones and Smelly Clothes: Designing for the Second Moment of Truth

By Estelle

This post originally appeared at Core 77

High tech products

News about a bad product experience travels quickly. Maybe it’s because of the fact, according to a white paper “Designing for the User Experience,” that five times as many people will tell a friend about a bad experience than a good one, or that social media makes it easier than ever to share that negative message, but news of design shortcomings and failures spread fast.

If I’m buying a pair of headphones and the sound is good, but they’re not comfortable, they’re too small for my head, they are too foamy… I’m not going to have a good Second Moment of Truth with that,” explains Stuart Karten, Principal and Founder of Karten Design.

The same goes for a bottle of laundry detergent you may have purchased for its swanky packaging: if your clothes don’t come out smelling clean, you probably won’t buy it again. That Second Moment of Truth (SMOT) often relies on the user experience, what happens when a consumer actually uses the product. As more and more of those products move towards the digital space, that experience comes down to a digital interface, the intuitiveness of those interactions and ease of use. Karten elaborates:

In general, there are multiple trends that are happening in the consumer electronics arena. One is that things are becoming rectangular boxes with user interfaces. The “stickiness” and the appeal and the connection are moving into the digital space. That puts a lot of challenge on—not only the overall form factor of the product on that first level—but the second level of that digital engagement”.

There are other challenges as well when it comes to designing high-tech consumer electronics. “With High-Tech, the technology is usually brand new, so this thing that you are designing is actually morphing as you move down the development cycle because, as time is changing, the technology is advancing,” explains Rob Brady, CEO and Design Director at ROBRADY, which focuses on consumer, industrial, marine and medical products.

Both Karten and Brady agree that designing for that second level requires a user-centric approach, spending time with the target audience to anticipate and better meet their needs. For electronics and other high-tech goods, that means understanding the incentives behind why a consumer would want this product and the motivation behind their purchases. “People make a conscious decision that they want a new pair of headphones, a new laptop,” says Karten. “They want it to define who they are and the person they want to be.”

Watches rendering

Designing with a broadly aspirational approach often means putting a series of virtual prototypes in front of focus groups, simulating interaction and providing a realistic rendering that can then be iterated upon before even printing out a physical prototype. Once the limits of virtual prototyping have been reached, focus groups can be brought in and products are placed in their hands. As these products move into the digital space, however, so do those focus groups and companies like Dassault Systèmes are creating solutions that virtually emulate the product development process from coming up with a concept to testing it in a online retail or working setting.

Ideation & Concept Design

You build a model and you test it. You do an alpha and you test it. You do a beta and you test it. You prototype early and often,” says Brady. “At the end of the day, it’s all about humans interacting with products and designers making these different products approachable and accessible.”

Do not miss the new edition of MADEin3D contest “Cup of IoT”, featuring the theme of Internet of Things! Register to the MadeIn3D community to enter the contest now! Also, you will want to check out our white paper titled “Designing the User Experience”.

Enter the Cup of IoT contest!

Can 3D-printing help kids learn how to write?

By Fred

Every day, we see great things coming from the 3DS Fablab, this time we decided to share with you this story, simple in terms of technology but innovative in terms of usage. Working with a Montessori school having innovative education methods it illustrates how 3DEXPERIENCE can contribute in places we would never think about! The tool has been originally designed by Maria Montessori, with the Italian language in mind, so without the difficult French phonemes like the “nasals”. This French specificity is actually one reason for explaining the delay of “explosion into writing” in the French Montessori schools compared to the world average. Following a recent study, the French Montessori Association now recommends the schools to enrich the alphabets with digraphs. As the kids start by writing the sounds (orthography comes later), it is important that they pick only one element for each sound.

3D printed letters

Thanks to these new digrams, there are no more obstacles standing between the children and the messages they are attempting to write. They can write everything and are no longer blocked by complex sounds (“phonemes“) in french such as “ou”, “oi”, “on”, “an”, etc…

Christophe created 3D models of solid digraphs (combinations of 2 letters) so they can improve their tools for writing learning. The digraphs in French are “an”, “ai”, “on”, “ch”, “gn”, etc. Handcrafting of all these digraphs would be very time consuming and inelegant, even if the result is not strictly identical to their existing letters (style, color, thickness). Watch how Christophe used 3D printing and 3DEXPERIENCE to come up with a creative solution:

YouTube Preview Image

The Montessori school is now using this a 3D-printed set of solid letters that the kids use to compose words and sentences. M. Mazzantini, Director of Ecole Montessori Internationale – Jardin du Luxembourg shared her feedback :

Thank you for this wonderful gift that allows the children to take further steps towards writing. It facilitates their autonomy and helps them to master their writting skills at a relatively early age (4, 4 and a half)”.

Hope you will enjoy the story, learning how to write with 3D-printing, a joint project with a Paris-based Montessori school (Ecole Montessori Internationale – Jardin du Luxembourg). You can download 3D letters & digrams.

Congrats Christophe for this great idea ! If you want to hear more about the 3DS FabLab, join the MadeIn3D Community.

The future is still plastics; maybe more than ever

By Catherine

In the 1967 movie “The Graduate,” the title character got this career advice: just one word…plastics.

It was so long ago, yet a futuristic remake would give the same advice. Plastic keeps evolving, gaining new properties and new uses.

The era of ‘The Graduate’ was a miracle age for plastic,” says Steven Russell, vice president of plastics for the American Chemistry Council. “Where we are in material sciences is another age in breakthroughs.”

Those high-tech composite materials you hear about are plastic reinforced with carbon fiber to combine the benefits of plastics—light weight—with dramatically increased strength.

Count on finding more plastic in vehicles. “Materials that used to be only for race car drivers are going to show up in everybody’s garage,” Mr. Russell says.

Plastics will be a major contributor toward meeting higher fuel economy standards and thus reducing pollution by making cars lighter. Plastics already make up about half of a car’s volume but account for only 10% of its weight.

Imagine if, a few hours after a fender bender, your car has healed itself. Scott R. White, professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, recently published research on the first demonstration of a synthetic, nonliving material—plastic—that is able to regrow and regenerate in response to damage.

Damaged bumper

In the future, plastics would never age because in response to either small-scale or large-scale damage, they would regenerate themselves,” he says. The process doesn’t work if the plastic has exploded or broken to bits.

Regenerating plastic has a vascular system in which about eight different chemical compounds circulate in two isolated networks, similar to blood circulating through the body—in fact, the idea was based on mimicking the body’s healing process.

When damage occurs, those veins break, allowing the two fluid streams to mingle and triggering chemical reactions that lead to regeneration. One reaction creates a gel, so the fluids no longer flow. A slower reaction is hardening, which turns the gel material into a structural plastic, Dr. White says.

The system isn’t expensive, he adds, and the chemicals are not more expensive than plastic itself.

Plastic has advantages over metal including being lighter and resistant to corrosion. The downside of plastic has been that it weakens over its lifetime, and may eventually fail. Ultraviolet rays, for example, can dramatically weaken plastic over time, making it become brittle and flake, Dr. White says. That’s something metals don’t suffer.

With regeneration, “plastic could be immortal as long as you maintain the mechanism by which it regenerates,” he says. The breakthrough would make plastic greener, because “every time you can make something last longer, it means you aren’t throwing it away or replacing it.”

Plastic already has been getting greener, says Mr. Russell of the American Chemistry Council. It’s now possible to recycle more kinds of plastics that weren’t recyclable in the past, from yogurt containers to flexible film like shopping bags.

Plastic also offers green applications in many industries. If all building construction materials now used were plastic—vinyl instead of glass windows, plastic instead of metal pipes, foam insulation—it would save enough energy to power 4.6 million U.S. homes, he says. Plastic is being used in energy-efficient LED light bulbs, which may help bring down their cost.

plastic polymer granules

Stanford University is working on ways to use plastic to improve the ability of solar cells to absorb energy. Bayer MaterialScience, a unit of Germany’s Bayer AG, and Belgium’s Solvay Group are making plastic materials for the Solar Impulse 2 ultralight plane, which aims to fly around the world powered only by solar energy next year. The lithium polymer batteries—made partly of plastic—store enough energy that the plane has been able to fly part of the night in test flights.

If we think about sustainability, lot of people don’t think about plastics,” Mr. Russell says. “But if we think about how a material impacts how we use water or energy or reduce greenhouse gas emissions, plastics help.”

Packaging is a major application for plastics, and one in which the material can make products greener. A little bit of plastic can prevent a lot of food contamination and waste. With active packaging, the wrapper itself helps prevent spoilage. Some are impregnated with antimicrobials, while others prevent loss of bacteria that’s beneficial to our microbiome. Still others include strips that absorb ethylene—which is given off by ripening fruit and vegetables—to keep food fresh longer.

Intelligent packaging may one day communicate information about the food in their refrigerators to consumers, to say which foods are in danger of not being fresh any longer, so those can be eaten first.

Plastic is showing up in some other unusual places. The Bank of England announced last December that the next £5 and £10 banknotes will be printed on a plastic film, rather than the traditional cotton paper. The switch, which will begin in 2016, will make banknotes cleaner, more durable and more difficult to counterfeit.

Plastic is a key component in the explosion in 3-D printing, which promises to change many industries. While 3-D printing has been around for three decades, it has only recently taken off, with applications from medicine to spare and custom parts to molds, patterns and models.



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Beyond PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), Dassault Systèmes, the 3D Experience Company, provides business and people with virtual universes to imagine sustainable innovations. 3DSWYM, 3D VIA, CATIA, DELMIA, ENOVIA, EXALEAD, NETVIBES, SIMULIA and SOLIDWORKS are registered trademarks of Dassault Systèmes or its subsidiaries in the US and/or other countries.