Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Perfect Counter Design: Part I

Guest blogger: Gray Holland from the design firm Alchemy Labs.

Recently Alden asked me to chronicle our collective effort for the Perfect Counter design and development process. The heart of the project was the partnership between Alchemy Labs [included Kevan Hollenback, Frank Denier and myself ] and the Perfect development team [with Alden Mills and Mark Friedman and their manufacturer].

Project Specification: [May 5th 2008]
The project started out as a simple counting device, defined to measure push up reps while using the Perfect Pushup. It would measure how many and how fast you could do them, even how many could be done within a specified amount of time. The Perfect Pushup raises the user's chest 4.5 inches off the ground, and thus the floor no longer serves as the feedback on a completed pushup stroke. This device should elegantly solve this issue. An engineering sketch was handed to us—it was a simple box with a large button on top. We set out to create the design for this device with one very important goal: To develop and for launch it for Christmas 2008!

First Inspiration - Concept 1: [May 16th 2008]
Normally a product is finished being manufactured by May for a Christmas release that same year, and we were just about to start the Counter’s design. Inspired by Alden’s challenge we jumped in head first! Within the first week we had the big idea visualized. Usually we would take more time to develop and create a range of ideas, but the timing on this program necessitated following our gut. We quickly made a 3D CAD model to illustrate the idea and pitched the design directly to Alden: The design leveraged the circular language of the Perfect Pushup product line and talked to the nature of how the Counter “fit” between the two pushups during use. Most importantly this concept tried to distribute the point of contact with the users chest over the largest area possible in order to make it as comfortable to use as possible. To accomplish this we developed a donut shaped foam pad with the counter display plus controls all located centrally. This Counter “puck” was screwed onto a translucent plastic base, allowing for some level of height adjustment and making the Counter “float” above the ground [like the users exercising themselves].

Next week: Part II -- Making it Work and First Prototypes

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