Industrial Design and Your Invention

We have all seen excellent examples of industrial design mastery such as the iPod or wii where the products design, function and form all play together beautifully. Yet how does an inventor achieve the same level of dynamics in their invention? The solution is to work with an industrial designer to fully develop your idea.

To get a better understanding what industrial design is let’s look at the three main traits of a well designed product.

Form / Ergonomics

Industrial designers are trained to recognize how different shapes and sizes play with a user. In order to illustrate this point and others let’s look at the following examples of a TV remote control design.

The remotes pictured on the right show two completely different designs. The first design is very blocky and uninteresting. The edges of the product are sharp and would feel very uncomfortable in the user’s hand.

The second image has flowing organic curves that mimic the user’s hand. These traits improve the ergonomics of the device and the comfort experienced by the user while using the product. Based purely on the form of the invention the second image may have broader appeal and will stand out compared to the first image. This difference increases the perceived value of the product and thus creates a greater desire for the consumer to purchase this product over the later.

Function / Usability

Usability is a relatively new term but the concept has been around forever and is the reason why a lot of inventors are here and successful. The majority of inventions are improvements on current products based on the usability of the device. For this reason a lot of industrial designers focus on how the person experiences the product. Industrial designers have the schooling and ability to get inside the consumers world and project how the product may be used. By doing this they are able to adjust, foresee or even develop completely new solutions to an invention, improving the products ease of use.

To continue our remote example lets first look at the button layout. The first example has all the buttons arrange in rows with no real reason for the arrangement of the buttons. The second example users color coding and key groupings to allow the user to quickly find the necessary keys. Additionally the shape of the remote allows for a “natural” position for the users hand that places them on the more commonly used keys. Furthermore the keys are arranged in a hierarchy of most used functions to least used at the bottom of the remote to further aid in the user experience.

Materials / Aesthetics

Material selection in your invention can make a world of difference in not only the cost but the overall success of the product. Industrial Designers have a broad understanding of the types of materials available to inventors and how those materials work with each other. They are able to correctly specify the materials and colors so the product is attractive and user friendly while being cost effective.

The first remote has a black body made completely out of plastic with a black silicon key pad. There is little contrast between the body and the keys making the remote boring and unintuitive. The second remote has a plastic body with a rubberized coating along the bottom for added grip. The top has an attractively painted plastic body with a silicon keypad. Special keys contain an epoxy coating which further highlights the keys and improves the appearance of the remote.

As more and more inventors race to get their ideas to market it is extremely important that the expertise offered by a competent Industrial designer not be overlooked. The designer’s ability to understand the end user, materials, ergonomics and appearance of the product can greatly improve the potential success of the invention. Design My Idea provides you with the ability to work hand in hand with an industrial designer to take your invention to the next level at inventor friendly prices.


Brian Gates is the founder and lead designer of Design My Idea LLC, a leading product development company. He is a graduate from Purdue University with a Bachelors of Science degree in Computer Graphics Technology specializing in Manufacturing Graphics. He started in the design industry nine years ago designing universal remote controls. His patented designs and concepts were utilized by several high-end electronics retailers. After inventing a new product to reduce the clutter of cords behind m...

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