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Innovation By Design

The 2015 Innovation By Design Awards Winners: Product Design

Whether its solving urban transportation or giving the digital world a tangible face, these are the best product designs of 2015.

A good product isn't just something that you can't resist pulling off the shelf. It's the satisfaction of a human need, packaged into something that can be yours. The products in this year's Innovation by Design Awards largely mark changing human needs—from solving transportation as we face increasing urban density, to giving the unseen digital bits floating around us a robotic face. Congratulations to all of our finalists, and thanks to our judges for their thoughtful critiques: Caroline Baumann, director at the Cooper Hewitt National Design Museum; Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk, and Jonas Damon, executive creative director at Frog Design. Finally, a sincere thank you to everyone who entered and supported Fast Company’s commitment to elevating the design profession.

(If you're looking for more inspiring work, don't forget to check out the finalists in our other categories: Winners, 3D-Printing, City Solutions, Data Viz, Experience, Experimental, Fashion, Graphic Design, Health, Mobile Apps, Product Design, Smart Home, Social Good, Students, Web Design.)

Winner:

Vanmoof x Spinlister

Firm: Vanmoof and Spinlister

Spinlister is a bike-sharing app with no hub or owners to go through; instead, users can lock and unlock computerized Vanmoof bikes from the app via Bluetooth. Bike rentals become untethered from Divvy stations, and the world of bikes becomes available as one rentable network of vehicles.


Finalists:

Adobe Ink & Slide

Creators: Robert Brunner, Steve Sangik Lee, Geoff Dowd
Firm: Ammunition
Client: Adobe

Adobe Ink, a precision pen for iPad, and Slide, a digital ruler, are Adobe’s first forays into hardware and work seamlessly with their drawing apps. They add a level of tactility to the digital UI never seen before in mainstream tablets.

Artiphon Instrument 1

Creators: Mike Butera, Jacob Gordon, John Sundermeyer, Ryan Wrenn
Firm: Artiphon

Imagine the keytar of the modern age. This portable instrument can play almost any musical sound imaginable, is customizable for many skill levels and connects directly to smartphones, tablets and computers. Plus, its UX allows a variety of classic inputs from analog music history—like strumming, bowing, tapping, and sliding.

Cardboard VR

Creators: Google Cardboard Team

Google’s low-cost virtual reality viewer uses a cardboard box and a smartphone to let users interact with movies, go on landmark tours, and examine 3-D objects. Its design isn't just cheap; it lowers the bar to experimenting in virtual reality, and makes it feasible to develop VR apps for a smartphone.

The Casper Mattress

Creators: Philip Krim, Jeff Chapin, Luke Sherwin, Neil Parikh, Gabe Flateman
Firm: Casper

The mattress aims to be comfortable for all sleepers, layering three types of foam, then wrapping the mattress core in soft textiles. It also challenges traditional, brick-and-mortar mattress sales. It ships straight to customers in sleek packages with a 100-day free trial.

Cinder Sensing Cooker

Creators: Eric Norman, Jim Reich, John Yu, Karen Kaushansky, Joseph Morin
Firm: Palate Home

Cinder is a kitchen appliance that allows home cooks to sear food at high, precise temperatures—with all the automation of a 550-degree sous vide machine. A virtual thermometer algorithm infers the temperature of the food as it cooks, measuring doneness in real time.

Cinetic Big Ball Animal + Allergy

Creator:Dyson

After six years and $12 million in R&D, Dyson created this no-filter vacuum cleaner uses small cyclones to generate higher centrifugal forces that never lose suction. Inside, vibrating fabric tips—shaking 350 times a second—prevent tiny particles of dust from clogging the machine and eliminating the need for filters that might wear out over time.

Cue Deep Health Tracker

Creators: Scot Herbst, Will Hunter, Ayub Khattak, Clint Sever
Firm: Herbst Produkt

A simple box that stands but 3-inches tall, Cue is a device that can track inflammation, vitamin D, fertility, influenza, and testosterone in minutes at home using a saliva, blood or nasal swab, and then import the data into a smartphone app.

Eero

Firm: Eero

Eero re-imagines Wi-Fi routers and bridges as an expandable series of devices that spread across your home to form a dynamic mesh network, guaranteeing coverage without specialty hardware and complicated setups.

Fine Speaker

Firm: Pauline Deltour and Lexon

Designed to reimagine musical hardware as unabashedly feminine, Fine Speaker is a delicately grooved speaker built with a twisting function for turning on and off, modeled after lipstick.

GoTenna

Firm: Pensa
Client: GoTenna

GoTenna pairs with a smartphone, then it uses VHF signals—like traditional two-way radios—to allow users to text and share locations even when they have no service, be that in an emergency situation or in a crowded stadium environment.

Hackaball

Creator: Made by Many

The iPhone-connected toy teaches children to code by letting them program games into a sensor and light-loaded ball that can respond to being thrown, shaken, dropped, or kept still.

Highfive Videoconferencing System

Creators: Dan Harden, Hiro Teranishi, Kyle Buzzard, Kailash Hiremath
Firm: Whipsaw
Client: Highfive

This black cube embedded in an aluminum wing is really a hi-fi, HD videoconferencing system designed for affordability and daily use in businesses. Rather than remotes or buttons, it's controlled via a laptop, wirelessly.

Humangear GoBites

Creators: Chris Miksovsky, Clint Slone, Evelyne Chaubert, Charlie Nghiem, Jonathan Downing, Bob Lane, Jeff Salazar, Tiffany Ninmer
Firm: LUNAR
Client: humangear

A compact, efficient set of utensils including forks, spoons and knives with a bottle opener and toothpick built in, made for camping or just an urban commute.

Ikea Jyssen Wireless Charger

Creators: Diana Africano Clark, Anders Arnqvist, Pernilla Danielsson, Laura Almenberg, Fernanda Barbato, Jingjing Yao, Fredric Ghatan
Firm: Veryday
Client: Ikea

While wireless charging has been around for nearly a decade, Ikea could be the first to take the idea mainstream, as they released a small wireless charging pad that can be installed into any kind of furniture.

Janinge

Firm: Form Us With Love
Client: Ikea

Janinge is a line of utilitarian, multi-purpose, and stackable chairs, designed to be suitable for outdoor use, yet keep the price down to a mere €39 per unit.

Jibo Social Robot

Creator: Cynthia Breazeal, et al.
Firm: Jibo

Jibo is a household assistant that can also be a messenger, photographer, storyteller, and companion, designed with the face of an AI, and enchantingly fluid motions of a sci-fi robot.

Juul Electronic Cigarette

Creators: Adam Bowen, James Monsees, Krista Hunter, Steven Christensen, Cole Hatton, Ari Atkins, Chenyue Xing
Firm: Pax Labs

Juul’s e-cigarette is designed to mimic the aesthetic and flavor of real cigarettes, by more precisely mimicking a the state of nicotine when delivered by a cigarette, and delivering more vapor in the process.

Leatherman Tread

Creator: Leatherman Tool Group

This stainless steel bracelet is actually a Swiss Army Knife for the modern man. Its links hide 29 tools for various purposes, from screwdrivers to bottle openers.

Lyft Glowstache

Creators: Gregoire Vandenbussche, Ammunition, Lyft
Firm: Ammunition
Client: Lyft

In a powerful, physical rebranding, Lyft redesigned their infamous clowny mustache into a glowing, USB-chargeable, portable product for drivers to attract customers.

Navdy

Creator: Navdy

Navdy attaches to the dashboard and projects a HUD of driver information like maps onto the windshield so drivers can keep their eyes on the road, retrofitting old cars with the latest in interface technology.

Osmo

Creator: Tangible Play

Osmo is an iPad peripheral that mirrors the camera lens toward a table, and allows kids to combine digital app-based games with real physical objects like blocks, markers and coloring sheets.

Phorm

Creators: Tactus Technology with Ammunition and Alloy

Phorm is an iPad Mini case with an invisible, mechanical keyboard built in. Using microfluidic technology, it pops up from a flat touchscreen, giving you a tactile keyboard in the process.

PowerGear2 Pruning Tools

Creator: Fiskars

The pruning tools are ingeniously designed with a rotating gear that provides a boost of power in the middle of the cut, where branches are thickest. Additionally, the latest models are easier on the hands, as their handles have been modified with a more oval shape and a gel skin that prevents blisters.

Public Office Landscape

Creators: Yves Béhar, Noah Murphy-Reinhertz, Qin Li, Naoya Edahiro, Logan Ray, Andrea Small
Firm: FuseProject
Client: Herman Miller

This modular "social chair" allows for flexibility in forming different configurations, whether work needs to be solitary or team-based. It can be linked into a shared bench system, and additional modular paneling can make the public spaces private.

Sabi Space

Creators: Sabi by Urbio and MAP Project Office
Firm: Sabi by Urbio

What started as an ethnographic project to develop bathroom figures for older people became this 13-item bath collection allows for customization and adaptability in bathroom storage. Its centerpiece is a circular ring that can be used in place of a stabilization bar.

Skully AR-1

Creators: Dr. Marcus Weller, Mitchell Weller
Firm: Skully

This smart motorcycle helmet features 360 degree camera, GPS navigation, and telemetry information inside a HUD so that drivers can keep their eyes off the road.

Slide-In Induction Range with Virtual Flame

Creator: Samsung

Without real flames or glowing orange heating elements, the magic of magnetic induction is invisible by nature. So this cooktop deploys LEDs to simulate flames when the induction plates are on, signaling that a hot pot is on the stove.

Solo

[subhed]Creators:[/b] 3D Robotics with Astro Studios

The Solo smart drone is designed first and foremost with drone photographers in mind, with a controller featuring a first person view of the GoPro camera on board, or any other live stream of HD video. Additionally, it can automatically land and takeoff with GPS assist, and a "pause" button will freeze the drone in midair.

Stratos Card

Creators: Scot Herbst, Alex Vilgertshofer, Sheila Dahlgren, Thiago Olson, Nick Bognar
Firm: Herbst Produkt

Stratos consolidates credit, debit, loyalty, membership and gift cards into one smart card, which features a dynamic magnetic stripe, allowing it to transform itself into any card in your wallet.

Surface Pro 3

Creators: Panos Panay, Brett Ostrum, Ralf Groene, Stevie Bathiche, Yi-Min Huang, Pavan Davuluri, Ricardo Lopez-Barquilla
Client: Microsoft

A full 30% percent thinner than an 11-inch MacBook Air, Surface Pro 3 is a thin and light 2-in-1 laptop and tablet, with a "continuous kickstand" allowing the device to tilt to any angle the user wants.

Swash System

Creators: Procter & Gamble and Whirlpool

Built from 133,000 hours of R&D, Swash is an at-home clothing care system that steams clothes—freshening them and smoothing wrinkles in a mere 10 minutes, so that users don't have to run to the laundry or dry cleaner as much.

TMA-2 Modular Headphone System

Creators: Lars Larsen, Johannes Becker
Firms: AIAIAI and Kilo Design
Client: AIAIAI

These headphones can be configured 360 different ways—with four different speaker units, five different earpads, three different headbands, and six different cords—each of which easily swaps out if you decide to buy new parts, or want to use the headphones for a different context.

The Ultimate Urban Utility Bike: Denny

Creators: Clement Gallois, Oliver Mueller, John Mabry, Michael Charles, Kay Kim, Roger Jackson
Firms: Teague & Sizemore Bicycle

Deny is designed to be the ultimate bike for urban environments, complete with auto-shifting gears, electric pedal-assist, smart reactive lighting, a fender that pulls water from the tire, and an integrated handlebar lock.

Virgin Hotels — Lounge Bed

Creator: Rockwell Group
Client: Virgin Hotels

Realizing that many people actually work from their hotel beds, the Lounge Bed was optimized for sleeping and sitting—with a padded headboard offering lumbar support, and a bucket seat in the corner.


More from Innovation By Design 2015

Winners, 3D-Printing, City Solutions, Data Viz, Experience, Experimental, Fashion, Graphic Design, Health, Mobile Apps, Product Design, Smart Home, Social Good, Students, Web Design

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