Published 12th November 2020 | Articles

How COVID-19 Affects Product Design

When the COVID-19 Pandemic hit in early 2020, it seemed like every entrepreneur and product designer rushed to create some form of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to help prevent the spread of the virus in some way.  We did the same thing.

Most of us did not have the resources or funds to design advanced medical equipment like ventilators, but what we could focus on was PPE for the work environment.

Along with our prototyping partner Prototype Projects, at Cambridge Design Technology we developed our own wearable protective visor called “Cap-It”.

When developing this visor, we decided to move away from the already saturated clinical application design market and instead to invent a form of PPE that could clip onto a traditional sports cap.

This was designed for deli counter workers, pizza delivery guys and supermarket staff who found other skin-contact PPE too intrusive.

In total we produced and sold 1500 units of the Cap-It visor. This included several units distributed to charities free of charge including local business struggling to stay open but home delivering food/goods to the community during lockdown and also Golden Wings, a Lincolnshire motorbike charity who travel around the community to service vulnerable citizens.

Communication and collaboration during the ‘new normal’

At Cambridge Design Technology we have continued to use the same collaborative working tools and technologies that we were using before the pandemic hit.

These collaborative tools and communications technologies have allowed us to continue to service our wonderful UK-based clients as well as our international clients around the world based in locations such as Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Florida and South Africa.

We believe that the key to success in this way of working is to maintain great communication among the team, with clients and with our partners.

Having the abilities and skills to talk to people on both a professional and social level has become as important as having robust IT systems and infrastructure in place to do the job that our clients pay us for.

So how is Product Design affected in the long term by COVID?

When it comes Product Design in general, the now commonly used phrases such as “strange and unprecedented times” and “new normal” must also be considered.

Simple human instincts have had to be set aside in favour of new, super-cautious approaches to shared environments, touching of shared surfaces, even breathing of the same air.

For example, in the current situation we can no longer exchange items freely, come into contact with equipment used by strangers, or even touch such simple everyday objects as stair bannisters, door handles and lift buttons – the list goes on.

Let us not forget however, that with the explosion of AI, VR, voice recognition, LIDAR and sensor technology, many of us can still operate and thrive thanks to innovative Product Design.

Innovations and technologies that have come to the fore during the COVID-19 pandemic include:

  • Video communications via Zoom, Teams, Skype etc
  • IoT developments such as remote heating and lighting control
  • Online shopping and home delivery
  • Touch-free restroom facilities such as infrared flush, taps, soap dispensers and dryers
  • Driverless cars
  • Drone applications.

What’s happening at Cambridge Design Technology?

In our product design consultancy, we are currently working on bringing to life new products to help comply with the UK Government’s FACE, HANDS, SPACE campaign. We covered the FACE with Cap-it mentioned above. We are working on SPACE (IoT device promoting social distancing) and FACE (hand hygiene device), through Bluetooth, apps, IR sensors and motor control.

Some of our latest projects have recently transformed and evolved, from what were quite simply great ideas, to products that are nearing readiness for market launch.

As the saying goes “Time is of the essence”. For some of our clients that time is NOW!

For more information about how we can work with you on your next product design project, please call Jon Plumb now on 01787 377106. Or email info@cambridge-dt.com

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