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20 Products (and Systems and Experiences) We’d Like To Redesign

For more inspiration, read our earlier redesign wishes.

The COVID era we’re emerging from is already being called The Great Acceleration, The Big Shift, and The Transformation of … [Work, Healthcare, Education, Cities, You Name It].

The past year changed fundamental patterns in our lives, accelerated existing trends, and revealed a sea of unmet needs. We saw companies ranging from mom-and-pops to Fortune 500 corporations leaning into pivots, and we all pivoted ourselves. And then we pivoted some more.

Against this backdrop we polled our staff to ask, “If you could redesign a product, experience, or service, what would it be, and why?” Some of the ideas for redesigns pre-date COVID. Some are driven by needs that were laid bare in the last year. Others are about preserving recent innovations bred from the necessity of mitigating socioeconomic, business, and health effects of the pandemic:

A Product We'd Like To Redesign: Mask Storage

Mask Storage

In the height of the pandemic, did you hang your mask next to your keys, or on a coat hanger? Did you pile them in a box, stash them in a Ziploc bag by your front door, or wear and toss a disposable mask each day? Even with the pandemic winding down (knock wood), we’ll likely keep masks around and possibly even return to daily use at some point. Because we thought this would only be temporary, no real solutions for mask storage have been considered. If masks are here to stay, what then? – Mathieu Turpault

Contactless Payment

Having experienced the joys of using Venmo for many restaurants in Chinatown (who are surely taking a play out of China’s Alipay/Wepay playbook by using QR codes), it’s really surprising that America as a whole has only progressed to “contactless CCs.” These require close-enough proximity to the card reader that they, ironically, often result in contact. Or worse, not every vendor’s point-of-sale setup has compatibility with contactless payment via your Android or iPhone. Agreeing on a standard protocol for secure, cashless payment that doesn’t require vendors to cough up for expensive POS upgrades and users to have specialized phones seems like a design challenge worth tackling. – Eric Chang

Our Food Infrastructure

A rethinking of our food infrastructure is important as the world grows to over 9 billion people by 2050, with two-thirds of the population living in urban areas. Vertical farming has the potential to provide the paradigm shift needed to feed the world. This would bring fruit, vegetable, and herb production closer to the urban areas that need them most. Being indoors, it would increase yields by extending the growing season and even the growing day. It would be healthier, negating the need for herbicides and pesticides. It would be better for the environment, minimizing transportation and requiring minimal water. Using sensors, smart algorithms, and robotics, vertical farming has the potential to automate the future of food production. – Aaron Pavkov

Home Utilities

I would redesign the way utilities are integrated and managed in our homes. IoT product adoption and the pandemic have caused us to reflect more on what we want from our homes, sparking a lot of movement in product categories in and around housing. Along with that push for transformation should come new ways of incorporating sustainable practices into how we use utilities at home, how we lay out our homes to be more efficient, and how we can innovate utilities and appliances themselves to be gentler on the planet. – Matt Selnick

An Experience We'd Like To Redesign: How We Connect with Seniors

How We Connect with Seniors

Many older adults are lonely, and the pandemic caused them to further isolate and lose contact with loved ones. While some may be tech savvy, my own grandparents can’t operate Zoom without serious help. Can we redesign smart technology to allow seniors to connect with their loved ones, without requiring them to interact with complicated hardware and software? – Leora Korn

The Shipping Box

How might we redesign the shipping and recycling experience to make it easier to manage waste and recycling at home or in the office? The pandemic increased online shopping, subsequently generating large amounts of waste. Existing recycling solutions are ill-equipped to handle this new reality. Figuring out how to make packaging reusable would be a great start. – Mathieu Turpault

Takeout Food Containers

COVID highlighted the mountain of trash that we generate from takeout food containers, utensils, and napkins. According to Technomic, a market research firm, restaurants account for 78 percent of all disposable packaging, including an estimated 282 billion napkins. There must be a better way to rethink the system, physical design, and materials that we employ for different types of takeout food. It’s a challenge that offers no shortage of problems to solve and constraints to challenge the creativity of designers and engineers. – Chris Murray

Outdoor Dining

If there are good things to have come out of COVID, streeteries are one. Closing city streets to vehicular traffic and filling them with tables, chairs, and happy people eating and drinking, is a new feature of city life that would be a shame to give up. I especially appreciate the restaurants that got creative with their outdoor structures. It’s like every day is PARK(ing) DAY PHL. Plus, opening up parking spaces or streets to tables and chairs has the effect of clearing sidewalks to allow wheelchairs and strollers to pass through easily. Let’s redesign our city permitting rules to extend this loosening of restrictions past the COVID era. – Caroline Tiger

A Product We'd Like To Redesign: Slippers and Socks

Slippers and Socks

A lot of us stopped wearing “real shoes” during the pandemic because we were at home. This is how I learned that it’s really bad for us all to be walking around without the arch and foot support of our everyday shoes. It could cause severe damage to ankles and feet. Can we redesign socks or slippers so that they’re still comfortable, but also better at supporting our physiological health? – Leora Korn

Everything About the Grocery Store

During COVID, I found that it was difficult to navigate the grocery store in a pandemic-safe manner. I also noticed a lot of research coming out about peoples’ changing grocery habits, and I felt mine changing, as well. I think it’d be interesting to rethink the in-store grocery shopping experience, including all the automation technologies that are being integrated into stores. From the payment process to the potential for food to be grown on-site, to designing for bulk-buying and packaging … there’s a lot that can be improved! – Matt Selnick

Avionics (the Electronic Systems Used on Aircraft)

In aviation we’re still using the same communication system developed in the 1950s: Dial in a frequency number, then talk like a robot to explain who you are and where you are. Then wait your turn (like at a DMV) and hope you’ll receive a clear response or direction by an air traffic controller. All the while you might be flying in the clouds, perhaps under turbulence, and possibly with a pukey kid in the back seat. Instead of talking to someone, perhaps you could press a button on your radio to call in a specific request, or maybe there’s a speech recognition or AI solution to better automate communications. – Pete Wisber

Pump Dispenser Bottles

We’ve all spent a lot of time this past year washing our hands. This gave us even more opportunity to notice how our bathrooms seem to constantly have at least one upended pump dispenser bottle in a precarious balancing state while we try to extract the last volume of soap, lotion, or sanitizer. – Chris Murray

A Product I'd Like To Redesign: My Remote Control

My Remote Control

First, why isn’t there a button on the set top box to press and locate the controller? We have the technology — let’s solve this daily domestic problem! Second, it would be nice if the remote could be locked during certain times of day (maybe via a phone app?) to limit kid usage. Maybe when it’s in locked mode, the act of pressing the remote’s power button can trigger a silly motivational audio response, such as — “Sorry, Pal, I’m unable to turn on since you didn’t finish your dinner.” – Pete Wisber

Reusable Plastic Sandwich Bags

I wish they were easier to use and clean so I could feel good about using less plastic, but still have a fully functioning solution. – Carter Biviano

Cities for Increased Accessibility

I spent a lot of time this past year walking around Philadelphia, and I started noticing a lot of inaccessible areas. Whether it’s a lack of ramps or ill-maintained curb cuts, I realized how challenging it must be for many people (in wheelchairs, with bikes, with limited mobility, on crutches, with strollers, etc.) to navigate cities. I used to give tours at University of Pennsylvania to prospective students, and I was directed to take the more scenic route even if it had stairs. Of course, not everyone can handle stairs, but alternate routes were out of the way and “uglier,” with views of Dumpsters and the backsides of buildings. Why should people who can’t navigate the main route have to take a less convenient and less appealing one? – Leora Korn

The Microwave

When was the last time you put something in the microwave that used the full height of the machine? Most people use microwaves to heat up plates of leftovers, so why don’t we have more options that are shorter and space-saving? I don’t think I’m alone in carelessly leaving random objects on top of my countertop microwave, cluttering up my kitchen workspace. I want microwaves that come in sleek enclosures with storage options that provide increased usability and look cleaner on my countertop. While we’re at it, let’s simplify the control panel. What ever happened to the simple dial to select your time? – Clara Fancher

A Product We'd Like To Redesign: Decaf Beans

Decaf Beans

There’s too little selection of good tasting decaf. I’m hyperaware of it now that I’m drinking more coffee (but not wanting to over-caffeinate) to keep up with work and my kid at home. – Eric Chang

The USPS

An already struggling USPS faltered this past year as people ordered things (and voted) by mail in record numbers. Letters and parcels continue to take days or weeks longer to arrive, which is especially problematic when you’re expecting prescriptions, paychecks, and other time-sensitive items by mail. When for-profit companies such as Amazon and Walmart can offer free and timely delivery via their own fleets or subcontracting, it’s past time to re-think the USPS — from overall logistics all the way down to their aging fleet of trucks, hundreds of which literally burst into flames in 2020. – Matt Black

Package Delivery in the City

Package theft is at an all-time high and the Amazon garage delivery solutions are great but they only serve Amazon’s deliveries. Why aren’t we seeing innovation of entry and garage doors that would enable effective and secure delivery hatches for large packages? – Mathieu Turpault

Safety Gear for Female Soccer Players

I’ve always wanted to redesign female soccer players’ required safety gear. Outside of pro football players, female soccer players in high school are the highest risk population for severe head injury. It has always perplexed me that shin guards and cleats are required (and have lots of specifications and regulations), but when I played soccer we never had to wear anything on our heads! Whether the focus is on detection or prevention, this is a huge opportunity for a design challenge: How might we make a wearable that keeps female soccer players safe without changing the way the game is played — and without being uncomfortable or ugly? – Leora Korn

These are just a few of the products, systems, and experiences we’d like to redesign. Is there a product, experience, or service you’ve noticed needs rethinking? How might you redesign it? Tweet us your redesign ideas @Bresslergroup