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Our Ten Most Popular Posts of 2018

As always, our annual roundup of the posts that captured your attention adds up to a nice reflection of Bresslergroup’s many moving parts. This year, it’s organized from the tenth to the top most-read post of 2018.

A list of ten items to represent an entire year ends up leaving out a lot, too: that we added a doctor to our bench. We did a lot of side projects. We integrated VR into our design process. We designed and went on a scavenger hunt around Philly. We explored the why, when and how of co-creation.

We’ll be expanding on many of these themes in 2019 — sign up for one of our newsletters for monthly dispatches!

10. Sensors for the Win! How Auto Industry Tech Drives Superior Olympic Athletes

most popular product innovation posts of 2018

After recounting CES 2018’s tech and product highlights, Todd Zielinski turned his attention to PyeongChang. In this post, he describes how some of the sensor technology trends he’s been tracking played into the performances of Olympic athletes, both in Rio in 2016 and in early 2018’s Winter Olympics.

Some examples: Virtual reality helped skiers take “practice runs” on the Olympic course they’d be tackling in PyeongChang before they arrived in South Korea, and the U.S. shot put team trained for Rio with a device that paired radar with video to help them optimize velocity, takeoff height, and distance.

In general “sports tech” is a growing field with wearable technology transforming how amateur to professional athletes are training and competing. We can’t wait to see how sensor technology plays into Tokyo 2020. Read the post.

9. Improving the Design of Medical Devices: A Dispatch from IDSA Medical 2018

most popular product innovation posts of 2018

Chris Murray, Conall Dempsey, and Mathieu Turpault put their heads together to distill their experience at the 2018 IDSA Medical Conference into eight succinct takeaways.

Of note were the expanding depth and breadth of usability testing in medical device development, and the growing integration of research into medical product design. To make such strides possible, many (including many of the presenters at IDSA Medical) are coming up with creative solutions to the challenges for user researchers and designers in this space.

At the same time, business leaders are insisting more and more on leading innovation with generative research. Read the post.

8. How To Make Polished Product Prototypes Using Everyday Shop Tools

most popular product innovation posts of 2018

Our Model Shop Manager, Jason Kelly, reveals some of his best tips in this roundup of reliable prototyping hacks he’s developed after many years of trial and error. (Later in 2018, he took his mad skills to Maker Faire.)

He came up with the idea for this post after noticing that people visiting the shop were frequently amazed by the methods he employs to make prototypes look polished and professional. In this post he recounts how his techniques can be replicated in anyone’s shop with everyday tools such as sandpaper, silicone, syringes, and Super Glue. Read the post.

7. ‘Five Global Megatrends Reshaping Product Design’ and ‘Five More Global Megatrends Reshaping Product Design’

most popular product innovation posts of 2018

How will consumer behavior evolve in the next five to ten years, and how will brands and organizations need to change in order to stay relevant?

In these posts, Director of Innovation Strategy, Ryan Chen, introduced ten global socio-cultural megatrends that he and his team are tracking. He provided insight into the trends’ drivers as well as thoughts on the trends’ implications for future products.

Socio-cultural trend research is an essential piece of the larger innovation strategy puzzle. Ryan’s presentation during DesignPhiladelphia 2018 highlighted the process by which megatrend research can be leveraged to drive disruptive innovation. (Check out the deck on SlideShare.) Read the posts.

6. 9 Considerations for Planning User Research Prototypes

most popular product innovation posts of 2018

There’s no one “right answer,” but Director of User Research, Conall Dempsey, offers nine pieces of tried-and-true wisdom for product development teams pondering how and when to make and test user research prototypes.

All of his advice stems from these core principles: Product development is most valuable when it’s centered on the user; and product development driven by user needs greatly benefits from regular user testing.

When you’re doing user testing overseas and one of your prototypes breaks but it’s no big deal because you’ve brought a spare, you can thank Conall for this tip: “Make more prototypes than you think you’ll need.” Part of planning for testing is planning for your prototypes to get broken. Read the post.

5. How Might We Improve Pizza Delivery? With Creative Matrix

most popular product innovation posts of 2018

Exploit the pause! The in-between work is where the magic happens. That’s what industrial designers, Vlada Belozerova and Tom Dooley, told a group of JeffDESIGN students who visited our office in June.

Revealing unmet needs during field research is exciting, and it’s tempting to come back to the studio and start developing solutions right away. But the solutions always turn out better if you pause first to understand and analyze the opportunities.

There are a lots of tools to help with that process, but the one Vlada and Tom demonstrated to the students and that they recount in this post is Creative Matrix, a method from the LUMA Institute’s System of Innovation toolset. Read the post.

4. Watch This Space: 7 Cool Gaming Trends Driving Shifts in Product Design

most popular product innovation posts of 2018

Admittedly the research that went into this post was rough — hours were spent playing Anki Overdrive, Fortnite, and Hidden Agenda, all so Conall Dempsey, Matt Ambler, Eric Chang, and Annie Deng could comment on growing trends in gaming.

But we thought it was worthwhile, because the gaming industry is typically a bellwether of what’s to come in other industries. In addition to digital games coming back to the physical realm, the authors noted an explosion in augmented reality, an outward ripple of gaming and gaming tech into other industries, and the adoption of gaming by heretofore untapped audiences. Read the post.

3. Hot Topics at the 2018 HFES Healthcare Symposium

most popular product innovation posts of 2018

Another conference recap made the most-read list — this time it was about the HFES Healthcare Symposium. Top among topics discussed at the symposium were 1) designing and testing for autonomous medical devices and systems; 2) AR/VR equipment for human factors research; and 3) designing and testing for global health solutions.

Like the best conference summaries, this one includes actionable tips direct from the author’s favorite sessions for those looking to do — or to improve at doing — any of the above. Read the post.

2. Using the PCA Method To Assess Use Errors in Medical Usability Testing

most popular product innovation posts of 2018

Senior User Researcher, Alex Visconti, shared what she learned about the PCA method at a three-day AAMI Human Factors for Medical Devices course that surveyed the latest FDA updates for human factors medical device testing, industry case studies, and practice sessions.

PCA stands for perception, cognition, and action — the main categories of use errors — and the method is useful for evaluating use errors in formative or summative usability testing.

As Alex writes, “One of the biggest challenges researchers face while conducting usability testing for medical devices is assessing and understanding why a use error occurs. (‘Use error’ is the human factors term for any error involving a human operator.) Getting to the root cause of each use error is essential, because the nature of the error informs the fix.” Read the post.

1. Degrees of Sealing: Designing Rugged, Waterproof Enclosures for Electronic Devices

most popular product innovation posts of 2018

And, drumroll please, the number-one, most-read post of 2018 was about waterproofing electronic devices. Consumer expectations are shifting such that people expect to be able to swim and ski with wearable tech, and to keep their phones in their pockets at all times — whether they’re on a beach vacation or a sweaty run.

Andrew Weiman describes the three main rating systems that determine how waterproof or rugged a product is: Ingress Protection (IP) Rating, NEMA Rating, and MIL-SPEC. He details the differences between the three and explains why, while they act as useful guides for manufacturers and consumers, they’re not exactly watertight.

At the end of the day, it’s up to brands to make sure their products are sufficiently rugged and waterproof, and it’s up to consumers to do their research. Read the post.

Thank you for reading in 2018. See you next year.

Check out all of our Most Popular Posts from 2013-2017.