Archive for the ‘Innovation’ Category

Sights in Europe

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

Outdoor und Indoor

Outdoor und Indoor

I love to travel and see new products and designs.

On one such trip I found some very down to earth outdoor furniture by Ante Neo a German Wood Producer.

The design is simple with strong straight lines, but the cushions seem to make the whole set pop!

The set is called the Loungegarnitur.  www(dot)ante-neo(dot)de

Machine Design

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Industrial Design Excavator

Industrial Design Excavator

The walking excavator is not a new idea, but I think future adaptations in a mid-size product line such as a new Liebherr 417, with updated cab styling of the interior for advanced in-cab computer power could be promising..

This machine slews like a standard excavator for dumping the spoil, as the main pivot between the upper and lower sections remains relatively the same. But the lighter construction of the arms, and cabin made from a reinforced polymer – enables the machine to adjust its balance to move heavier materials in the bucket without pulling itself off its feet. Combined with the larger footprint to reduce ground pressure, multiple function levelling gives operators increased performance for sensitive areas, such as city maintenance of underground cables and piping, or where landscaping might need to be left relatively untouched in sensitive environmental areas.

This concept might appear like a cumbersome mechanical elephant but, just as in nature where large animals create efficiencies to live and move about successfully, the improvements in robotics and energy efficiency come into play with this design. The idea of a fuel cell hydrogen-electric hybrid came to mind and the concept reflects this in the hydro-blue colour accents and LED light piping. The fuel cell-look is encapsulated between the chassis and upper housing promoting the advanced technology inside.

Industrial Design Excavator Cab

Industrial Design Excavator Cab

IDWS is a contributor to IVT the International Industrial Vehicle Technology Magazine ivtinternational in the UK.

Out Innovate!

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

When the call came out on May 25, 1961 to send a man to the moon from US Pres. John F. Kennedy, there was no knowledge of what would eventually lead companies into an era of innovation and education.  This is the story we know from the Space program, as it pushed the development of new ideas and products to get to the moon.  And many of these ideas percolated down into other main stream products, creating their own success stories.

So how can we out innovate, out educate and out build the rest of the world, as US Pres. Barack Obama outlined in his State of the Union address on Jan. 25, 2011?  As many have looked at this statement as a vague outline, with over used phrases, I think we are missing something.  What the President is doing, is once again a call for action, a deep review of our industries and to find a vision that will better our companies, and tell a better story – like going to the moon!

If we lack that vision and keep going ahead with what we’ve always done, someone someplace is going to challenge us for our market share.  In Hollywood, building market share in the movie business is to create great movies, but note all great movies have this one major theme: 

“About a character, who wants something, and overcomes conflict to get it.”

This theme is a basic desire that is built into our DNA of our human experience, and probably that one thing that got your company started. 

So what is the next chapter of the story you are writing at your company?

Honda for example looks at their company through this lens: 

“Most people think of Honda as an automobile company.

But our main focus is and always has been human mobility.

And innovation is our engine.”

Honda is writing a story about finding and figuring out how to make mobility better, and more environmentally friendly – less about carbon fuels and more about bio fuels. And the research that they have poured into is about new education that leads to innovation and outbuilding the rest of the world.

The story they embarked on was to duplicate the human motions of walking  ( ) and they ended up with a robot called ASIMO, derived from Isaac Asimov best known author of science fiction books and in movies such as “ I, Robot ” staring Will Smith.

But not only did they create a walking robot, the Honda story continues with spin off products like the UX-3 Personal Mobility (seen below), Stride Management Assist and the Bodyweight Support Assist.


Honda-UX-3 Closed


Honda-UX-3 OPEN


Even further developing new Products with this Eco Mobility technology are the Honda EV Car, the EV CUB, EV Neo Scooter, and the EV Monopal ( ) .


Honda EV-CAR w/ UX-3 in Door




The story that Honda is writing is this; a company that wants something, and is overcoming conflict to get it done.  And you see this when you watch the innovation and the over 180 patents being worked out in the UX-3. 

The Story is not just about a small portable wheeled device to make us lazy at walking, it is about the creative process to create better ideas that lead to innovative products.

The UX-3 is an idea delivered at a cost I’m sure, but the hurdles that Honda faced to get there might one day just make its way into the next future mobility device. One that changes the face of vehicles we know today, creating a competitive advantage that the rest of the world will one day have to catch up to.



Being optimistic about driving a company into the next decade takes a lot of determination, finding your company story will help you create that goal.  Discovering the right team of visionaries and designers to help you overcome the conflicts will help bring out that excellence and competitive advantage, creating a better story for your company’s future.

David Duncan

Watch the Honda UX-3 on Youtube:

How 3D vision can help Product Design

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Walk into any television and stereo entertainment store this fall and you will be witnessing some of the latest 3-D television sets.  Displaying 3D Blu-ray movies and soon to come 3D television shows, 3D documentaries, and even live 3D sports broadcasts.  Imagine NFL football games on Sunday afternoons, let alone how this will improve seeing the undulating fairways and greens while watching Golf and the PGA at Augusta National for the Masters this spring!

Stereo imaging has been around for many years, but this latest advancement in Home Theatres has given us cost effective stereoscopic 3D flat screens and glasses allowing the viewer to travel through space, showing heights, depths and textures like we have never seen before - all right in our own living rooms!  So, when will we adopt this this technology into our everyday Office Space?

Virtual Reality in CAD ( Computer Aided Design) has been around for a decade or more, used often in architecture to show fly through landscapes and streetscapes for construction projects, as well as  with a handful of high-end vehicle designs on Mercedes-Benz and Aston Martin cars.  But this technology is now on the verge of being offered in Tablets and Laptops in a cost effective way getting this into the hands of every designer and engineer at their own desk!   And so what we as a group of professionals really haven’t done before is engage this technology at very basic level of product design involving our engineering and industrial design in the day to day developments of a project. 

Currently the best way to “see” a product for form and fit is to use Rapid Prototyping repeatedly, until we are comfortable with the end result.  This is used currently because so much information and comfort level is lost on the CAD system when only being able to see the parts on a 2D monitor.  

However a handful of companies have developed software and hardware for design professionals to start utilizing this advanced technology allowing for 3-D visual experience.  Nvidia has been developing packages that give new tools to designers to create that next generation of products, 3D Vision gives “graphics solutions for real time collaborating design reviews complex data exploration, immersive realistic 3-D environments and faster time to insight”


In the past 3-D vision technology has been out of reach for most of our desks and was at best used mostly as a board level type design tool.  Imagine now, that the design work environment can be done with 3D visual support on a single desktop monitor, no longer restricted to large projected images or using a CAVE, the rooms specifically designed for virtual reality simulations.

Operating with this kind of 3D vision is really very simple, all you need is a compatible 3D GPU ( graphics processor unit) a 3D vision ready flat screen display or projector and a set of the 3D glasses for viewing.  With many 3D CAD software packages getting into the support of such technologies, companies like Rhino3D, Autodesk, Catia & Siemens are among the handful of CAD developers catering to this new technology.

So the big question is this, How will this new 3D vision change or improve the product development process and lower the costs to create and prototype new ideas and product ventures?   Soon we will know, but it’s probably just a matter of time before the 3D stereoscopic display monitors start to take over, and the replacement of the 2D flat screen monitors in the Engineering and Industrial Design Offices become the norm, offering this new technology to the research and development process.

Finding Design Gems this Summer

Thursday, August 19th, 2010
Recently after returning home from a camping trip with the family, I stumbled across some camping gear that takes a unique look into the camping experience.  Where form meets function and where Dad would rather spend 5 minutes of set up instead of the 30 to 40 min. traditionally encountered in putting up the tent.  And while this seems like an odd topic for a design review here are a few gems that have brought some thoughts to tap into new ideas in product development. I guess that while it is still August this might be as good as any to transition from vacation back to innovation to help get you thinking about what might be coming down the pipeline for 2011. 
Industrial Design Style Example 1
 Industrial Design Style Example 1
The first product is a tent trailer that is styled after the Sydney Opera House, but with European styling and luxury that no tent trailer has encountered before.  To be released this year the Opera Tent Trailer is made in the Netherlands by YSIN . The concept draws upon architectural roots but the deliverance of this form is where the creativity gives this product uniqueness. Add to the overall form is the treatment of high end materials of Teak and Oak offset with Stainless Steel Accents and LED lighting and you quickly find this experience like one might on a yacht, adding a new market share in the camping experience. 




Industrial Design Style Example 2

 Industrial Design Style Example 2The second is a trailer design that is much more utilitarian or functional, however I still found this to resonate well from both its form and style.  The Sylvan Sport Go tent takes its aim at a crowd with bikes, kayaks and other gear on the weekend getaways.  It’s a brilliant approach of putting the tent overhead in a box frame and dropping down for the quick 5 min. setup.  In age old category of the tent trailers, this sport feel is designed to get you out of the city quick and into the outdoors but still with some creature comforts above the tenting experience.




Industrial Design Style Example 3
Industrial Design Style Example 3

The third is a bit more hard core, this trailer concept from down under gives the true outback experience with mobility of the off road vehicle ruggedness.  The TVAN Track trailer built and sold in Australia is designed for performance and durability, but there is something tough and aggressive about the design and styling of this product line.  

While this review is not extensive, the ideas from seeing unique products from other corners of our globe can help to drive new ideas into the projects we’ve got going on.  From European styling to the North American Sport weekend warrior to the outback adventure tour I’m reminded of how well design of an idea can play a role in creating unique products that people are interested to buy.  So keep your eyes open while the last remaining days of summer draw near, you never know where a burst of inspiration might come from.
As an Industrial Design Firm serving companies looking to bring new ideas to their product development process we continue to blog about new products in the market.  We contribute to the monthly blog for Design Product News Canada.  For more information on Industrial Design services contact us

Niagara Industrial Association

Monday, January 25th, 2010

Doing business in the Greater Niagara Area has many benefits.  There are a handful of businesses for developing, engineering, manufacturing and marketing a product, companies like General Motors and John Deere have known this for years.  And now new companies and industries in electronics, LED lighting, Consumer Products and emerging technologies in renewable energy from companies like Samsung for Wind Turbines and Mining Companies look to Niagara.  Which if you can do business in the area, it offers some great attractions from Entertainment at Casino Niagara , world class Golf courses like John Daly’s Thundering Waters, and our world famous Ice Wines from our tender fruit farms around the Niagara-on-the-Lake area have impressed guys like Wayne Gretzky to do business here - No.99 Estates Winery.  And finally the awe of power is a sight to see at Niagara Falls, which is always just a short drive from any place in the Niagara Peninsula. We have access to international airports, with Toronto Ontario to the North and Buffalo New York to the South.

Visit the Niagara Industrial Association for more info on the area.

Steel Velcro

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009


Extreme steel ‘Velcro’ takes a 35-tonne load

16:34 04 September 2009

For all its usefulness, Velcro hardly inspires excitement. But German engineers have taken inspiration from the mild-mannered fastener to create a version of the hook-and-loop concept with enough steely strength for extreme loads and environments.

A square metre of the new fastener, called Metaklett, is capable of supporting 35 tonnes at temperatures up to 800 ºC, claim Josef Mair and colleagues at the Technical University of Munich, Germany. And just like everyday Velcro it can be opened up without specialised tools and used again.

See Full Article Link:

by Tom Simonite

Wal-Mart & Lee Valley Tools

Monday, July 13th, 2009

Sunbeam Garbage Can

Sunbeam Garbage Can

 The Sunbeam Trash Rac is now being sold at Lee Valley ( 3 Gal ) and Wal-Mart ( 6 Gal ) versions.

We began working with Wilson Engineering and Primeway on this project to add design features that improved the value and marketability for retail.  Creating a styled design appearance and ergonomic features that aid in using an under the sink garbage can system was the starting point for IDWS.

Two of the benchmarks that we had to hold to, was that every part of the end product had to fit into a box no bigger than H 12″ x W 8″ x D 4″  ( 3 Gal ver. ).  And the second requirement was that this product would have an automatic lid function on the garbage can design.

IDWS managed to sketch out and then test the concept of leveraging the lid against the swing action of the cupboard door.  When a person opens the cupboard door, the automatic function is never in the way of the end user - and is also hidden from sight.  What was great about the design process for our client, was that the initial proof of concept began by cutting up cardboard shapes to animate the concept and its merits to them.   In turn saving our client rapid prototype development costs of multiply designs, then we rapid prototyped the final concept just before manufacturing files were sent to the molder.

We are happy with the outcome of the design and added to both the design of the product but also to the packaging by creating product information sheets as well as user function graphics printed directly onto the TrashRac box.

More images:,43722&p=57878

Lee Valley comments:   ” A well-thought-out and practical design. “ 

Electric CAR

Monday, June 15th, 2009


As seen on  ” Visions of the Future” with David Suzuki - CBC, the MIT City Car is working towards making the car more useful in tight city centers.  
A new vehicle design at MIT redefines the idea of automobile transportation. The ultra-compact prototype not only takes advantage of new technologies to solve problems like parking space and pollution, but also offers an alternative model for energy-efficient city transportation.
The Boston Globe
ENGAGE: Successfully developing and marketing new products is often the key to a company’s future growth, but despite decades of research on what works, the gap between the best performers and the also-rans is growing, not shrinking. And that gap starts at the top, says Scott Edgett, CEO and co-founder of Stage-Gate International, an innovation consultant based in Ancaster, Ont. He says good leaders must be able to articulate an innovation strategy (which is distinct from the business strategy), create a culture of risk, stand atop a repeatable product development process and get a good grip on the company’s product portfolio management.
SUPPORT: Leaders at the most successful companies don’t just approve ideas and then wait for the launch. Certainly, they should be involved in making the “go” or “no go” decision, as Edgett calls them, but they should also have “gate” meetings where they can review projects for both merit and resources. If a lot of money is being spent, execs may also get more involved by regularly reviewing the status of projects in the pipeline, and
whether they’re properly funded. “That’s different than micro-managing,” says Edgett. “They make a decision and then stand back and let the project team execute.”
KEEP SCORE: Top companies measure the success of new product launches as a percentage of sales, growth and/or profit. Nobody should expect a 100% success rate, but only negative cultures are afraid to talk about failure, says Edgett. Leaders can learn from product duds, and that process starts with a post-launch audit where any and all issues are discussed openly. Larger companies can afford to fail more often, but knowing when to cut your losses is key. “It’s like buying a bad stock,” says Edgett. “A pro knows when to sell it and reinvest somewhere else. An amateur holds on to it and prays hard that it will rebound, and keeps losing more money.”
by: ANDY HOLLOWAY, Canadian Business Magazine

ZENN Electric Car
So On a Side Note for Canadian Innovation in the Electric Car Industry, there is ZENN Motor Co. (TSXV: ZNN).
The Toronto-based electric car company, which just posted a wider-than-expected quarterly net loss of about $2 million, saw its share price jump almost 70% to an intraday high of $5.79 on April 23, thanks to positive test results related to permittivity in an energy storage system being developed by Texas-based EEStor Inc. ZENN, which makes low-speed, short-range electric cars, owns automotive rights to the EEStor system and hopes to use it to produce a high-speed, highway-capable vehicle.
GE : Imagination — Canadian Connection
Also noted that Geoffrey Beattie was named to the General Electric Board - Who will serve as an independent director.  GE which owns NBC Universal, is the world’s biggest maker of Power-plant turbines, Water Desalination, Medical imaging equipment, Aircraft Engines, Locomotives as well as GE Security cameras and electronics. Which means another voice for Canadian Innovation and Design in such a Global Company.

Globe and Mail