You can’t please every consumer 100% of the time, and that is certainly the case when it comes to product design. No matter how carefully something is developed or packaged, no matter how many times its designers test and retest it, there often is some flawed design element in the product that only rears its ugly head with prolonged consumer use.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most notable idiosyncrasies -- some annoying, some potentially deadly -- in product design and packaging over the years. Click on the Apple iPhone 5 connector below to view our list. Then add the products you think we missed in the comments section below.
Anyone who’s gone through a few mobile devices over the past 10 years or so probably also has a collection of now-useless power cords sitting somewhere in their basement. While there are certainly proprietary reasons for creating separate cords for devices from different manufacturers, it’s really no fun for the consumer. Just ask Apple enthusiasts who were nothing less than enraged when the company changed the iPhone connector with the iPhone 5 model (pictured here), rendering any previous Apple device power cords (which also up until then worked with iPods and iPads) or accessories obsolete with the new devices. (Source: Apple)
You have truly hit the nail on the head with this one Elizabeth. All of these "inventions" are problematic and some; downright annoying, a "pain in the drain". It appears from the comments we all share similar experiences; i.e. sensors in automatic sinks, bubble-wrap packaging covering ink cartridges and other hard-to-get-at components. I owned a Pinto at one time so I know a little bit about that. I'm sure there are others but this is an excellent start. These inventions prove that hindsight is really 20-20. Good ideas at the time BUT!!!! Great post.
I don't see any noteworthy design flaws, let alone epic ones, in either the Apple lightning connector or the Tesla. Though some may have reliability problems with any connector, the lightning connector seems to me like a superb design and much improved over the 30-pin one it replaces. The criticism I understand is that they made accessories with the old plugs obsolete, which is not really true because you can buy adapters to the new connectors. There are old chargers which won't work with some of the newer devices, though. Also, some criticized the decision for a proprietary connector when an industry standard like a USB 3.0 might have worked just as well. A perception of a design flaw to the products, not the connector itself, may exist, however. The connector, I would disagree.
The Tesla doesn't belong at all on such a list. Where is its design flaw? Fears and potential flaws shouldn't count.
The Dyson is a failure due to its noise, IMO. That much noise should violate OSHA standards, if it doesn't already. The best solution is drip dry, my usual choice, or by using one half of one paper towel as shown in the TEDx talk here:
During the last 5 years of my career, I designed the electronics for soap and paper dispensers. I've used both IR and capacitive sensing. In the IR systems, I designed my own photodetector amplifier and created synchronous detection software to avoid interference and false triggering. All of my IR hand sensors were reflective, not transmissive (beam blocking) types and were battery-operated.
What about the HDMI connector? No retention mechanism and zero-force insertion! Every time I move the cablebox in and out, I have to reach behind and plug it back in. This connector was not meant to be a high frequent plug. The 3/8 long metal part can barely hold up the heavy jacketed cable at the TV.
That's not the worst of it! We just bought a new IPOD Touch 5 for our daughter, and the charge cable failed on the second day of ownership. The problem? As with most of us these days, she doesn't like to unplug the cable from the power cube/USB jack, she just unplugs the IPOD. This leaves +5V USB power on the EXPOSED contacts of the cable, if (I should say "when", since it's going to happen eventually.) the end of the cable touches something conductive just right, it shorts the supply, and in this case vaporized and blackened the contact, rendering the cable useless.
I'm sure if you read Apple's instructions, they say to remove the USB end of the cable before disconnecting the IPOD, but I'd bet 9 out of 10 users don't. Developing a cable with exposed voltages is going backwards as far as I'm concerned. One more reason I'm not a fan of "the Apple Way" :(
I'm not sure about this one, JimT, it could have been both! The Gremlin is still quite a cute car, isn't it? I'm sure there has to be at least one old man in Portugal where I live in the countryside driving around in one. ;) Actually, it's the Renault 4 that is big around here:
Yes, I actually have friends that don't believe in vaccinations, JimT. I think it's a little bit misguided. I don't think kids should be overly doctored or vaccinated and allowed to develop some resistance themselves, but generally I think vaccinations against still existing and dangerous diseases should be done. (I myself have no kids at the moment, so it doesn't apply to me.) But I also do think resistance builds strength and it's nice when my friends who have kids aren't too overly germophobic and let the kids be a bit free in terms of that. I think it builds healthy immune systems.
I know you're right. Resistance builds strength. It's the vaccination theory, in a way ,,,, (although, vaccination has recently fallen under heavy scrutiny, being challenged by groups claiming it promotes autism) ,,, * sigh * ,,, God knows-?
Ah, yes, people afraid of germs will do whatever they can to avoid touching anything others have touched, JimT. Sounds like those in charge of public toilets are adapting. I myself am a pretty healthy person and while I take the usual precautions with washing hands and the like, I am not so afraid to come in contact with foreign surfaces. I think personally this germophobe stuff has gone a bit too far and isn't allowing us to build the resistance we need to bacteria and viruses. This is one of the reasons for the development of superbugs like those found in hospitals. Some germs are good for us.
During a teardown of the iPad Air and Microsoft Surface Pro 3 at the Medical Design & Manufacturing Show in Schaumburg, Ill., an engineer showed this "inflammatory" video about the dangers of maliciously mishandling lithium-ion batteries.
Science fiction author Isaac Asimov may have the best rules for effective brainstorming and creativity. His never-before-published essay, "On Creativity," recently made it to the Web pages of MIT Technology Review.
Much has been made over the potentially dangerous flammability of lithium-ion batteries after major companies like Boeing, Sony, and Tesla have grappled with well-publicized battery fires. Researchers at Stanford University may have come up with a solution to this problem with a smart sensor for lithium-ion batteries that provides a warning if the battery is about to overheat or catch fire.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
Focus on Fundamentals consists of 45-minute on-line classes that cover a host of technologies. You learn without leaving the comfort of your desk. All classes are taught by subject-matter experts and all are archived. So if you can't attend live, attend at your convenience.