When you’re surrounded by apps and devices, it’s amazing to discover that you can’t find a waterproof headset that wirelessly streams audio above and below water. So water sports enthusiasts Charlie and Sheera set out to solve this problem. It turns out that Bluetooth doesn’t work underwater, so a radio frequency transmitter and a special antenna are required to convert the signal. After a bit of R&D, and innovative technology was developed and patented, tech startup company Zygo was founded.

Outerspace Design was contacted to help turn the intellectual property into a market-ready product. There were still considerable challenges to overcome, including mechanical engineering, waterproofing, electronics integration, heat dissipation, and optimisation for mass production.

After a whirlwind week, Outerspace Melbourne has settled in the new makerspace in Abbotsford, a short drive from the old studio. The team enjoyed designing the “clean slate” space and making it their own, with an open layout more conducive to collaboration and dedicated on-site workshop. The new Electronics Lab has the right equipment for efficient turnaround of circuit board prototypes, and a suitable home for the Robo 3D Printers.

Clients will appreciate the parking available right outside the front door, while the team has been taking advantage of improved bike storage and riding trails along the Yarra River. And most importantly to Melbournians, the new studio is surrounded by cool cafes offering world-class coffee. Now that the dust has settled it’s business as usual, so drop in, check out then new Space and let’s talk about your next project.

California-based technology startup Live Planet had an ambitious goal of virtually immersing users into a remote environment in real time. But the hardware didn’t exist.

Live Planet was founded by Halsey Minor, the entrepreneur behind popular software Salesforce and Google Voice. His dream was to have a camera in one location, and a person with VR goggles in another location. In theory, the user could look around, taking in the live action in high resolution 3D, as if they were there, while it was happening, for a truly immersive experience.

This clearly requires a fast internet connection between the filming location and the VR goggles, but the missing technology is a camera capable of incredible feats:

  • Multiple lenses for a 360 degree view
  • Automatically stitch the images together in a seamless horizon
  • High resolution 4K image
  • HDR for smooth exposure
  • Stereoscopic (dual image) view from every angle to create a 3D image
  • Video streaming or recording at 30 frames per second
  • Compact and portable product format

Luckily Live Planet made contact with Outerspace Design’s San Diego branch to help tackle the hardware challenges. Firstly, the engineers at Outerspace Design developed jigs and fixtures to ensure consistent and accurate alignment of all 16 camera lenses during assembly, so the data captured is clean.

As you can imagine, the computer processing power of this multi-lens high resolution camera is immense, but still possible. The biggest problem is keeping the core cool in this small device, while continually capturing, stitching and streaming the vast volume of data from all the cameras.

Even though the chip is mounted to a solid metal base, and heat sink fins are integral to the design, heat buildup was still an issue. Running some Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) computer simulations on the device provided crucial information on where the energy was accumulating, and clues about how to dissipate it.

The Outerspace team was able to use this information to optimise the thermal performance of the camera. Multiple fans were tested in physical simulations, and the air intake was redesigned and the flow path was increased. The final design leverages the increased surface area and ensures high velocity air flows over the areas of high temperature.

The launch of Live Planet’s 4K Stereoscopic VR Camera is another world first. Discover it here: https://liveplanet.net

To discuss how your technology startup can get better product to market faster, contact us: [email protected]

New year, new location

In a world of digital and virtual everything, hands-on work is still an important part of how Outerspace gets things done. While 3D CAD modelling is a large part of what we do, we also like to get our hands dirty; from quick foam or clay form studies, to timber and sheet metal mockups, proof of concept and physical testing.

Outerspace Melbourne is consolidating its Richmond studio and workshop locations into a combined makerspace in Abbotsford just a ten minute drive away. The Abbotsford office, slated to open in late January 2019, will have dedicated workshop, electronics room and Colour, Materials and Finishes (CMF) area. Subscribe below for more updates in the new year.

 

Mark leaves his mark

After more than 25 years of enthusiastic service to Outerspace and Australian design, founding Director Mark Johnson is easing into semi-retirement. He’s still around the studio from time to time, transitioning projects, helping with the move and checking email, so wish him well. While you’re at it, check out the fascinating story of how it all began. Knowing Mark, he’s got more than a few side projects on the go, but will always make time for his family!

 

Ernesto sets sail

Senior design engineer and project manager Ernesto is set to fulfill a lifelong dream of taking a year off and sailing the world, and he’s generously offered to let his young family join him. Ernesto plans to set sail at the end of December, and is diligently winding up and handing over projects. We look forward to welcoming him back to the Outerspace team as soon as the wind blows him back this way and he regains his land legs.

 

Great Scott(s): electronics squared

Scott Foster joined the Outerspace team to expand our electronics capability. Since then demand has grown, so we went looking for another Scott. And we found Scott Williams. Scott and Scott will make good use of the new electronics lab at the Abbotsford facility, and expedite the development process for any products that require integrated electronics.

Mission Impossible

If you know anything about the design and mass production of consumer products, you’ll appreciate the teamwork that went into this fast-track premium phone case project for Element.

Element Case has developed a reputation for offering protective phone cases that push the boundaries in styling, performance, materials, finishes and quality.

Outerspace was dared to deliver an innovative new protective phone case, from concept to mass production in only eight months. This included taking on responsibility for the detailed engineering, design for manufacture (DfM) and tooling management.

The first challenge was delivering concepts that were on-brand, appealing to the target demographic, yet unlike anything else on the market. Initial concepts were presented exceeded Element’s expectations and it was full steam ahead to 3D CAD modelling and prototyping.

 

You are part of a global phenomenon.

Everything you do – what you eat, what you wear, how you vote, what you read, what you watch, what you buy (or don’t buy), how you travel, what you share, is part of a larger conversation that you contribute to, and by which you are influenced.

Yes, you’re an individual, but whether you realise it or not, your choices and actions contribute to the ongoing evolution of society.

Understanding these movements is critical for anyone developing products for purchase. To help make sense of, visualise, and communicate these flows in a meaningful way, product designers group these movements into categories that we call megatrends.

Megatrends are big, broad, cultural and social trends that influence our values and consumption behaviours – they represent big changes that occur over a five-to-ten-year period and are an important information tool at Outerspace Design.

Imagine if you were going to buy a car today. What trends are important to your situation and personality? Is luxury important to you? Would you buy a small car or an SUV? Petrol, diesel or electric engine? Or are you opposed to individual car ownership, preferring to walk, bike, take the bus, Uber or a share car? Some of these options weren’t even available a few years ago.

 

Expanding your product range:

Megatrends are very useful for companies wanting to differentiate and expand their product range, but are unsure what to do.

Each megatrend is an opportunity to tailor your product and align it with a consumer value set, that is strengthening over time, to ensure relevancy.

At Outerspace, as we progress through a project, we challenge ourselves at every part of the creative process, always asking – Who else could this appeal to? What else could this product do? Are we communicating the right values to the right market? By asking these questions, we use megatrends to make sure we are taking every opportunity to increase the value and longevity of each product we design and develop.

There are 8 megatrends in our five-to-ten-year forecast:

  • The New Luxury
  • Social Awareness
  • Natural
  • Sustainability
  • Digital Physical
  • Athleisure
  • Digital Virtual
  • Powershift

Read Megatrend 1: The New Luxury

The concept of luxury is expanding and evolving. Consumers are demanding greater choice, allowing them to spend more on what matters most to them. Global mass brands are giving way to niche brands as consumers at all income levels seek products, services, and experiences that reflect their personal identity. Consumers are seeking products that are unique rather than exclusive, they value experiencing over acquiring, and are interested in story more than brand.

Traditional luxury brands must evolve to stay relevant in the luxury market. Continuing to secure their reputation as one of the finest luxury brands in the world, Hermès have been travelling their exhibition “Hermès at Work”, showcasing their craftsmanship and proving that they are more than a well known name. In the exhibition, Hermès artisans demonstrate in the flesh the work that goes into creating their bags, watches, gloves, scarves, ties and more. Consumers get to see for themselves that Hermès doesn’t just have a heritage name but that behind their excellent reputation is a rich history of quality design.

A newer player in the luxury landscape is Le Labo from NYC, which was founded 11 years ago to be an alternative to the rising tide of conformity in perfumery. They make luxury perfumes which are freshly hand-formulated upon order, as well as hand-poured candles with an emphasis on hand-picked ingredients. Le Labo is certainly luxury without being traditional and despite being so new. Their personalised approach along with a focus on natural ingredients and artisanal expertise gives them the status that luxury seekers are after.

An example of the new luxury from the Outerspace product design portfolio is the Tastic Neo for IXL Home. The Neo is a 3-in-1 exhaust fan, ceiling light and electric heater for the bathroom. Unlike the small, low-powered options available on the market, the Tastic incorporates three bright downlights and a powerful, efficient and quiet in-line electric fan. Rather than round heat bulbs, a linear IR element is recessed behind a frosted tempered glass fascia. Protruding bulbous plastic fascia and dusty vent grilles are replaced with a low-profile genuine metal frame and integrated vent apertures.

When launched, the Neo was priced well above its nearest competitor, and created a new premium category in the segment. Yet before long, it was the market leader. The Neo was a luxury trend setter.

Neo leveraged several insights:

Retail builders are gaining market share. Houses and ensuite bathrooms are getting larger. The building industry is adopting more stringent standards, including better-sealed homes, necessitating active venting. But the underlying trend is this: people are spending longer hours working and commuting, and they’re spending a much higher proportion of their incomes on accommodation, leaving less disposable income to spend on external entertainment, resulting in more at-home entertainment and relaxation. In a word, staycation. As a result, the gourmet kitchen is replacing the restaurant, the home theatre is replacing the cinema and the ensuite is replacing the day spa. Upgrading your bathroom has become an easy way to invest in your most valuable asset, add some luxury to your time-poor life, while saving you money by letting you pamper yourself at home.

Traditional forms of luxury may be dead, but the new values of luxury – quality, craftsmanship and authenticity – are stronger and more accessible than ever.

If you’re interested in how you can use megatrends to increase the value of your products please get in touch!

“’Digital’ is no longer a glorified marketing department in a company, or an economic sector on its own, but a layer over everything.”

– Future Crunch*

Everyday the digital world moves further into the physical space – internet of things, 3D printing, automation, artificial intelligence – have all become part of our lives, sometimes without us even knowing. There is no area of life that hasn’t been transformed by technology in one way or another.

If you’re not already, you should be asking yourself, “how can my product be better using digital technology?” because your competitors are.

When we talk about “Digital Physical” at Outerspace, we’re primarily talking about physical products that are being enhanced by digital elements or features. The ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is probably the most common way of referring to this area of products that merge digital, online, and physical.

Think about how much photography has changed and accelerated since evolving from film to digital. You no longer have to purchase film, take it to a store to develop and print the images, at a high cost of time, money and inconvenience. Now you can take as many photos as you want on your phone, then store, sort, edit, and instantly upload and share them at virtually no cost!

Digital tech has revolutionised the retail sector too. Last year, global online sales amounted to 2.3 trillion USD and projections show a growth of up to 4.48 trillion USD by 2021.** While some people like the convenience of shopping online, many still prefer to visit a bricks and mortar store. But that doesn’t get you out of the digital sphere all together. Stores like Amazon Go now allow you to walk in, grab whatever you like and walk straight out, with all sales being processed automatically through an app on the phone in your pocket. Lolli and Pops, a US based sweet store, invites their customers to “enrol their face” – each time they walk into the store they are recognized in real-time by an app with facial recognition that the sales associates are using on their tablet devices. The staff know your allergies, your past purchases, and can recommend products via AI-enhanced analytics without you even having to introduce yourself.

DigitalPhysicalTrend

We’re constantly seeing this digital layer transform physical areas of our day to day lives, but the opposite is happening too. In a retro backlash from computer gaming company Nintendo, their latest offering, the Nintendo Switch, a modular, digital gaming platform, now has a very physical accessory. Nintendo Labo brings physical play back into digital gaming with cardboard DIY accessories that kids can build and incorporate into the digital game play. Nintendo Labo appeals to parents who are conscious of their kids having too much screen time and feel a sense of nostalgia towards ‘old fashioned play’. Check out this video to see the Switch and Labo in action.

Even heavy primary industries are going digital. For many years the mining sector has used digital technology and GPS to plan and track their extraction and transport equipment to optimise logistics from control centres. But the digital influence has expanded further into the physical world including vehicle cockpits. Equipment operators expect access to technology to help them do their jobs, but the cabins of earthmovers are rough and dusty places. So Motium worked with Outerspace Design to develop a connected tablet PC that is ruggedised and dust proof. With an anti-glare screen, large heat sinks, and sealed connection ports, the “Tuff Panel” PC provides in-cabin access to software and real-time site information even under extreme environmental conditions.

Ruggedized tablet

The mining sector is also using digital technology to tackle the problem of driver drowsiness which causes errors, injury and death every year. Outerspace worked with Optalert to develop a wearable monitoring system, including a specialised set of eyeglasses. The glasses include an optical sensor that records eye blinking frequency and speed to accurately detect driver fatigue and alert the driver before it becomes dangerous.

These are just some of the ways digital technology is finding its way into the physical world to enhance and enrich our lives. Technology now plays a pivotal role in consumer decision-making and the ability of products to meet the needs and expectations of current and future consumers in a global marketplace.

To see how this megatrend applies to your product, contact us via our website. We’ll help you explore the possibilities by asking questions like how can digital and connected features help your product:

  • appeal to more people?
  • evolve into the future and stay relevant?
  • function better, solve more problems or offer more convenience?
  • enhance or offer a more customised user experience?

If you’re interested in how you can use megatrends to increase the value of your products, please get in touch!

 

*Future Crunch   **Statista.com

At Outerspace Design, we appreciate clients who identify real world problems to solve, and set a high bar for product excellence.

The founder of RX Smart Gear approached Outerspace with a challenge: design the world’s first high performance jump rope that can be quickly length-adjusted without tools.

Dave Newman entered the Californian CrossFit scene in 2008, and quickly became hooked on the physical intensity of the sport. But like many others, he struggled with the jump rope and the problem of “double unders”, where participants increase the intensity, achieving two rotations for every jump. Dave noticed that outdated gear was letting athletes down, and set out to improve the equipment through careful testing and observation.

One of Dave’s key discoveries was that small changes to jump rope length made a huge difference in posture, technique and efficiency; each athlete required a custom rope length for optimal performance.

Dave and Outerspace Design are proud to introduce RapidFit, the world’s first dual bearing, tool-free, length-adjustable jump rope. The achievement was honoured with a Good Design Award trophy presented to the team at the Sydney Opera House on the eve of the 60 year anniversary of the awards in front of an audience of 1100 guests from around the world.

See the entry here. Click on “Feature One” for more detail about this unique design.

 

Image L to R: Outerspace : Alex Morrison, Designer, Mark Johnson, Director, RXSG Australia: Daniel Cook

Outerspace has added three new members to the team. The move is in line with their philosophy of simplifying the product development process for our clients.

From left to right:
Dr. David Menzies, Business Development and Commercialisation
Kevin Duckenfield, Senior Product Engineer
Scott Foster, Senior Electronic Engineer

David brings a wealth of experience in business planning, capital raising and product launch. “A lot of start-ups ventures have good technology, but aren’t where they need to be in terms of business planning , modelling, and capital raising, so that’s where they fall over, and this is where I can help” explains David.

Kevin has worked around the world, from Germany to the UK on a wide range of automotive projects, including the Tesla Model X. Kevin will help service a growing number of Outerspace clients in the transport and mobility space.

Scott is Outerspace Design’s first dedicated electronic engineer. Having developed electronics for the mining industry, and robotics for the medical and scientific fields, Scott will help expedite development process for any products that require integrated electronics.

“While we’ve always offered electronics design with our trusted partners, and will continue to do so, having in-house electronics engineering capability lets us make quicker decisions, reducing cost and time to market for our clients.” explains Andrew Moore, Operations Manager at Outerspace. “The more we can offer in-house, the easier it is for our clients.”