New and Notable Product Design 12677

DN Staff

September 8, 2003

4 Min Read
New and Notable Product Design


IDEATIVE Product Ventures FlexUSB(TM). Ever plug in a direct-mount USB device only to find it covers an adjacent port? Or else nearby objects prevent connection? The FlexUSB adapter's two axes of movement get around the problem. Inventor Tavis Schriefer notes the coupler had to be strong and stiff enough to support a heavier device, but not too strong- it has to fail under load to avoid damaging a computer or peripheral. And to limit wear, the ABS housing couldn't rub against itself. To meet these criteria, engineers designed the vertical pivot, closest to the port, to turn on twin, spring-retained steel balls that engage ABS detent teeth. The outer, horizontal pivot is a custom-made flat metal spring. To ensure integrity, Schriefer adds that, rather than an expensive loads analysis, designers attached the and heaviest peripheral they could find and simulated air turbulence vibrations. President:Tavis Schriefer, [email protected] ( Enter 576


LEDtronics SolarLED Lantern. This lantern will stay lit for up to 24 hours on one NiMH battery charge, about four times longer than a 6W fluorescent model. But Lei Vinoya, R&D supervisor notes the design engineers had to make sure light from the LED point light sources was distributed as evenly as possible over 360 degrees for eye comfort. They came up with a linear array of 36 surface mount technology, white LEDs arranged 18 to a side, in two rows, on a vertical PCB. The solid state LEDs are also resistant to shock and vibration found in outdoor use and last 100,000 hours, at least five times the life of a fluorescent tube. R&D Supervisor:Lei U. Vinoya, [email protected] ( Enter 577


AlphaSmart Dana(TM). In designing this easy-to-use laptop for the K-12 education market, engineers focused on reliability, notes Dave Gallatin, VP of engineering. Thus designers selected the proven Palm OS with its wide number of applications and low power consumption, which extends the three AA batteries' lifetime to a week between charging. For robustness, Gallatin says engineers used components in the shell that are "compact, bolted down, with no moving parts." They also gave the overall shape no snags to catch on clothing, and the latest versions will sport corner deflector bumps to further prevent keyboard damage when slid into a backpack. VP of Engineering:Dave Gallatin, [email protected] ( Enter 578


MusiKube Vista Service. Now music shoppers can sample any of 3+ million tracks as they shop for compact discs. By using the barcode scanner on a customized Hewlett-Packard iPAQ PDA at subscribing stores, users are WiFi-linked to the Encyclomedia(TM) database containing CD track samples. While Vista is a straightforward iPAQ application, before installation in older retail premises, coverage surveys are necessary to ensure there are no dead spots. Base stations can then be added to eliminate blind zones. The service database also has music reviews and will offer recommendations based on preferences. Future developments may use fingerprint recognition techniques so subscribers can record or phone in a clip of music from a performance to identify and learn more about it. CEO:Ashley Heather, [email protected] ( Enter 579


Fellowes Cordless Micro Trac Mouse. This handheld wireless mouse frees users to point-and-click up to 6 ft away from its 27 MHz receiver. Senior Product Engineer John Herbst says, "It is elegantly simple, one of those unique designs that fell into place the first time." Users wanted a handle added to a previous wired product, so engineers added a pistol grip. "This is where the batteries fit naturally," he adds, along with the necessary wireless firmware. Unlike other wireless mice, which require docking to the receiver/charger, Micro Trac has an ac recharging cord that allows tethered operation during the 6-8 hour recharge of the twin AAA NiMH cells. A fully charged mouse can run for 20 hours of continuous mousing/trackballing, the equivalent of 7 to 14 working days. Senior Product Engineer:John Herbst, [email protected] ( Enter 580


APC USB Handheld Charger and Sync Cables. Carrying ac adapters when traveling may soon be a thing of the past. These cables can charge hand-held devices via the USB port on any computer. With PDAs, the cables also allow synchronizing data between the computer and the device. Product Manager Andrew Bradner notes while the concept is fairly simple, engineers had to pay attention to the details of every user device in order to ensure connection to the proper pinouts. They often had to "split" a line to ensure proper voltage. "Not all handhelds use the 5V the USB puts out. Each new model creates its own challenges with voltage and frequency," he adds. Product Manager:Andrew Bradner, [email protected] ( Enter 581

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