07 April 2017
This month Tanya Weaver takes a look at three novel ideas from start-up companies and the support it’s taken to develop these ideas into products
The wheel deal
Back in 2013, Samantha Warwick and her husband Markus Warwick came up with the idea for a stroller that, once collapsed into a compact size, can be worn as a backpack on an adult’s back.
The couple approached Cheltenham based product design consultancy D2M Innovation in the hope that it could turn this idea into manufacturable product.
“The pair came to us with a detailed specification to design a lightweight, compact and highly portable stroller for children aged six months to five years.
It had to fit within current IATA cabin baggage sizes and weigh around 5kg,” says Phil Staunton, D2M’s managing director.
A breakthrough in the design process was D2M’s suggestion for an ‘omni-wheel’ design — a 360-degree wheel that provides controlled, multi-directional steering.
“One of my pet hates with strollers is that if you try and push them in a straight line, particularly one handed, they don’t go in a straight line. The omni-wheels has really helped with the manoeuvrability and the agile steering of the stroller,” says Samantha Warwick.
With the final Omnio prototype produced, it was shown to user groups and also exhibited at various shows, and even picked up a few innovation awards.
Following certification and testing, D2M helped source manufacturing partners and by the end of 2016 the stroller had entered full-scale manufacture.
Under the microscope
Tech start-up ioLight approached Cambridge Industrial Design with a novel new patent for a portable digital microscope.that can take images at a resolution better than one micrometre. These detailed pictures of cells are then sent to a tablet or smartphone.
Speaking of the design process, Alex Jones, MD of Cambridge Industrial Design, says: “As with any complex product, numerous mechanical prototypes are generated to fully explore the options and understand any failures.
Our new Form2 printer was invaluable to the project in providing a quick iterative development process.
Alongside this, material selection and finish plays a critical role in ensuring the product works every time and conveys quality.”
Alongside the design of ioLight, the companion app was designed by Airsource and the scope was manufactured by BK Tooling. “All three local companies worked together throughout the production process, from bringing the concept into physical reality through to packaging, ensuring that the scope could fully target users with genuine mobility needs, such as forensic professionals, biologists, and those in the material sciences,” adds Jones.
The hope is that profits from initial sales of the scope will facilitate the next stage in development leading to the ultimate plan of producing a £200 version specifically for schools and students.
University of Glasgow graduate Michael Tougher set up Spark and Rocket following graduation with the aim of launching a new kind of musical instrument for children called Soundbops.
He devised a set of bright coloured button or bops that each play a different musical note when pressed on a base mat.
Bops can be endlessly rearranged to create new tunes and even combined into chords when piled on top of each other.
“It makes music easier and more fun. However, as each bop is a note, it allows the child to understand where the sound is coming from and through experimentation and play, learn music,” describes Tougher.
From sketches, he created cardboard prototypes before modelling his design in SolidWorks. Having created a physical prototype using coloured 3D printed and laser cut parts, he entered the Royal Academy of Engineering Launchpad Competition — a nationwide hunt for UK entrepreneurs in the engineering and technology sector under the age of 25.
He was awarded the JC Gammon Award, which provided him with £15,000 in funding and business mentoring.
Through this experience he met Josh Valman, MD of London-based RPD International, who helped with design for manufacture and sourced manufacturing partners in China. Tougher will soon launch Soundbops onto Kickstarter.
soundbops.com | rpdintl.com