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If You Could Redesign Anything, What Would It Be?

One of the questions we ask of new employees when assembling their bios is, “If you could redesign anything, what would it be?”

We know everyone joining our team has probably thought about it. Daydreaming about ways to make products or experiences better in function, usability, connectivity, appearance, technology, quality of interactions, etc. etc. etc.! — is a blessing and a curse when you’re in product design and aware of the potential to improve everything from the little things (ironing your pants) to the big ones (food supply chains). We can’t turn it off.

Here are just a few of the things we’re eager to tweak:

The Microwave

It really only needs the 30-second button, you know?  And every keypad I’ve used on a microwave is awful. My buddies in college made a much better microwave. …  It loads YouTube videos while you wait! – Nick McGill

Soldering Irons

I think they could be redesigned so to be held more like a pen or pencil. Current designs place the tip of the iron far away from the fingertips (maybe for safety reasons?) which feels a little unnatural. – Ian Adam

Farm-to-Home Grocery Supply Chain

Grocery stores currently stock items that may or may not be sold, and will likely need to be kept in inventory for many days (and will need wax coating and other efforts to maintain freshness). As a result, many grocery store items contain preservatives for a longer shelf life. One solution to avoid this and to improve the quality of food sold at stores would be an Uber-like system for fresh fruits and vegetables, and for sharing things that people grow in their backyards or that farmers grow nearby. – Aditi Singh

Logging In

Proving you are who you say you are used to be either easy or unnecessary. Humans lived in smaller communities where everybody knew everybody, and meeting a stranger was rare. Skip to the modern day, when you’re required to prove your identity seemingly countless times a day. It gets in the way of seamless travel, movie streaming, paying bills – a growing list of everyday tasks. In parallel, the need to protect your identity has become imperative.

I’d love to explore ways to improve the process of logging in, to make proving you are the human you say you are more human. One of the hardest passwords to crack, that doesn’t rely on the latest technology, is a sentence – it’s very human, very easy to remember, and very hard to decipher due to the sheer number of characters involved. Or what if my whole “village” could vouch for me based on a lifetime’s worth of our shared memories? – Vlada Belozerova

12V Connectors in Cars

They’re big, clunky, and don’t latch well.  Their original purpose was for cigarette lighters and now that those are all but nonexistent, they only persist because of the thousands of portable devices that use them as a power source. While they are a useful holdover, their clunkiness doesn’t need to persist. I’d make them smaller, more rugged, and latching. – Dan Wanninger

Hospital Beds

I would make hospital beds more comfortable, and streamline all the wires. Integrate items such as electrical outlets, ports for your phone, the nurse call button, and TV remote into the bed itself, as well the controls for moving the bed up and down.

During a hospital stay I noticed that everything had its own gadget, and trying to keep up with it all on top of being careful of all the wires was just ridiculous.  I was also amazed at how uncomfortable the mattresses were. – Takiyah Felder 

Cell Phones

I’d make them automatically disable when users are walking or driving in streets, sidewalks and public spaces. – Howard Cohen

Front Doors or Garage Doors

They haven’t kept up with today’s reality — large and frequent package delivery is a common thing for urban areas, but packages are often left outside in a plastic bag in case of rain. Solutions exist and they are pretty simple and straight forward, why have we not seen any change in these product categories yet? – Mathieu Turpault

Shoes (Women’s and Men’s)

Our feet are our foundation. Most shoes are designed for fashion, not to actually fit the human foot. This is especially true for women’s shoes, but even as a man, I have difficulty finding shoes that fit right — that don’t cause discomfort, pain, and/or fatigue. I’d like to design a method to quickly and accurately measure feet and manufacture custom, yet attractive shoes at an affordable price. This would be a feat for our feet. – Matt Black

Long-Distance Swimming

I’d like to design a Bluetooth headset for swimmers that lets them listen to music. Long-distance swimming can be very difficult, and a distraction like music would be fantastic. I would try to use the technology that exists in Google Glass that uses bone conduction to send the waves to the ear. The hardest part would be going through water to send the waves in the first place, especially when someone is moving around so much. – Satyajit Balial

SEPTA Regional Rail

It’s too slow and it doesn’t need to be. I’d design self-driving rail cars. Instead of an entire train making a stop at every station, independent cars could travel directly from the suburbs to Center City without taking on additional passengers. I believe the only reason not to do this is fare collection and inter-station travel, which can both be addressed: Set it up so that fares must be paid to get onto the platform, just like how the subway works. And inter-station travel would still be available on a separate dedicated car. – Jason Zerweck

Automotive Interfaces

There is far too much clutter and ambiguous iconography. – Matt Ambler

My Car’s Sun Visor

I’d redesign it to better keep the sun out of my eyes during my daily commute. The existing visors provide insufficient coverage, especially in the winter months when the sun is lower. One possibility is to use image recognition to identify when the sun is shining in my eyes, then move the position of a small shade on the windshield to align its shadow with my eyes. This should result in a smaller visor and better coverage.

There’s a lot of development on image recognition for both smartphones and driverless cars. A good recent example is Apple’s iPhone X, which uses facial recognition to unlock the phone.  – Kevin Murphy

Ironing

I know this is crazy but I like ironing my shirts — but if I could make it an easier process, I’m all for it! – Tom Dooley 

Smartphone Arm Band for Running

The designs are clunky and it’s very difficult for the phone to get in and out easily. Also, the size of the physical band doesn’t fit people with small arms and is not easily adjustable to a small size.  – Dani Feldman

As for me, I can’t wait until Philadelphia gets the BigBelly trash cans with the foot pedals. I’d also love to see a redesign of the process for casting a write-in vote on the Danaher Shouptronic 1242 voting machines used in much of Pennsylvania. What would you like to redesign? Tell us on Facebook or tweet us at @Bresslergroup.

(This post is part of Curiosity Club, a series where Bresslergroupers ask questions, go exploring, and occasionally tear things apart.)