September 2nd, 2020

Innovations That Matter – Episode 10

As designers, we’re intensely curious about innovations of all kinds, and even more so when human ingenuity is borne out of sudden change. We decided to lend our expertise in highlighting and evaluating promising innovations borne out of the COVID-19 crisis. In this series, we’ll be using 3 different categories to rate these exciting ideas. First will be innovation, or how new or disruptive the idea is. Next, we’ll look at feasibility to check how realistic the idea actually is in practice. Finally, will be scalability, to see how capable an idea is to reach a wide audience.

In this episode of Innovations That Matter, we review:
1. Coke Makes Fountain Drinks Contactless [Link]
2. Smart Mirror Promotes Proper Handwashing [Link]
3. Cosmetic Company Makes Single Use Soap [Link]

Watch Episode 09 here.

Find more COVID-19 insights here.


Hello folks, I’m David Bulfin, Senior Designer at BOLTGROUP back to share our next episode of Innovations That Matter, where we explore, analyze, and rank designs and experiences that are emerging in response to COVID-19. Let’s jump in.

Across the board, we’re becoming more and more wary of the surfaces we touch everyday. This is doubly true when interacting with products designed for public use. Understanding this, the Coca-Cola company recently came up with a way to keep their well-known Freestyle drink machines in service while being totally contactless. Using an over the air software update to the drink machines themselves, customers no longer need to use the touchscreen on the fountain at all. Through an on-screen QR code, thirsty consumers simply use their phone as a dynamic web based interface, all without an app download. The user makes their selections via their mobile device and then has their cup filled by the machine. In regard to innovation, our team scores this new feature at 4 out of 5. The fact that this change brings new life to Coke’s existing machines in the field, and keeps them relevant to consumers is a big win. Time will tell if customers adopt the change easily or find the interface intuitive. For feasibility this roll out ranks well at 3 out of 5. This adapt and overcome approach is to be highly commended, but we’ll be curious to see how long-term this type of touch free thinking affects how future drink machines are designed. On scalability, a perfect score of 5 out of 5 is warranted. The fact that Coca-Cola was able to offer their consumers a totally new user experience with a software update alone is incredible. Initially, our team was anticipating some sort of hardware retrofit being required, but this was a pleasant surprise.

Effective handwashing is all about protocol. Both timing and technique are critical to stopping the spread. To help with both education and compliance, Pink Tech Design has recently released the prevention mirror, a smart mirror that dynamically displays an animation of correct the proven method for a user to emulate. The touch free design is activated with a simple wave. After that, the viewer just has to copy what they see in the mirror while they wash up in the sink. For innovation, this product receives a 3 out of 5 score from our team. While having a one to one representation to align with is an excellent tool, we wonder if the concept can expand further to potentially analyze the process. Perhaps if this smart mirror were to gamify or incentivize good habits, it could be fun as well as useful for people of all ages. In regard to feasibility, this design gets a 5 out of 5 score. While smart mirrors have been in the market for some time, their realistic use case has been a barrier for some. Using the technology to promote and enhance hygiene makes great sense and positions devices like these beyond novelty. On scalability, our team is scoring this design at 3 out of 5. While this mirror offers some exciting features worth paying attention to, we know that widespread adoption is also cost driven. Depending on how the economy of scale plays out here could be the difference in whether systems like this find their way into our homes and public restrooms.

Lush Cosmetics has their own interesting take on encouraging best practices for handwashing. Their new 30 second soap product is exactly as its name describes. By focusing in on encouraging the duration of a good handwashing, their soap is designed to completely dissolve after 30 seconds of lively scrubbing. By removing the timing guesswork, these handy, single use cubes can be brought along on the go as a personal soap solution. For innovation, this 30 second soap scores with a 4 out of 5 rating. Our team sees this as a thoughtful, delightful experience with a purpose. To that end, we also know that this product demands an excellent packaging story to match. We would love to see what ways a single use soap could tackle waste in a way that is clever and useful. Perhaps a handy reusable dispenser or a dissolving wrapper could be a great next step. On feasibility, high marks are given at 5 out 5. This solution is simple, low tech, and easy to understand. Our team could easily imagine keeping a pack of these soap cubes in our bag in the same way that we would carry a pack of chewing gum. Lastly on scalability, we’re giving 30 second soap a 4 out of 5 score. We think that as a product, this could easily see widespread appeal and use, but we’re wondering if in practice this ultimately results in more or less consumption overall.

That concludes this episode. Rest assured, we’ll return to share even more exciting COVID related innovations you need to know about. Thanks for listening and stay safe until next time.

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