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New and Notable Product Design

New and Notable Product Design

HEAD ABOVE WATER

Orca Gear(TM) Jacket with Float Tech(TM) Liner.

While automatically inflating personal flotation devices exist, they're not frequently used because they are bulky, restrict movement, and are often ugly, notes CTO Michael Lobsinger. Orca Gear developers looked to meet safety needs and regulatory approval with a lightweight attractive package-a rip-stop nylon jacket and a similar zip-in liner, containing a coated, UV-stable polyurethane self-inflating bladder, that can be worn by itself in warmer weather. Lobsinger says engineers adapted the liner more from the apparel industry than from previous inflatables. He notes for example, a traditional square bladder neither fits nor lays well around the shoulder. Thus designers used a 15 degrees apparel-style cut from the shoulder out and down to the waist, for both comfort and style. CTO:Michael Lobsinger, [email protected] (www.orcagear.com) Enter 576

CHILD TOTE

R&D Innovative Product Designers Ride-On Carry-On. Simplicity is key to this fold-up carrier that fits on any 18-22-inch high rolling luggage to hold a child weighing up to 40 lbs. A nylon strap, rather than frame structure, holds the carrier to the luggage, notes inventor Darryl Lenz. The headrest can be repositioned to form a tray table for food or toys during long waits. Rather than hinges that fold the table down, simple plastic brackets with holes allow the table to pop out from the upper position and into the lower. Hinge motion would have been obstructed by a child's head, thus requiring removing and reseating the child in the now more confined seat. VPDarryl Lenz, [email protected] (www.rideoncarryon.com) Enter 577

BIKE LIKE LANCE

Trek Bikes Madone 5.9. Because of tight clearances and weight-limit regulations, engineers designing Lance Armstrong's bike for this year's Tour de France had little room for improvement. But trimming weight in the carbon composite frame from the lugs for the seat, head (handle bar), and pedals cut 0.09 lb (4%) to 2.43 lbs net-with no loss of strength or stiffness and, most importantly, feel. Along with aerodynamic fairings on the seat and head tubes, Lance could maintain the equivalent pace on this year's bike vs. last year's bike using less power (290W vs. 300W power output). How important is such an improvement? That translates to a gain of a minute over a 200-km race stage-just below his overall winning margin of 1 min 16 sec this year. And because development is so costly, Lance's bike serves as the first production example for the Madone 5.9 line available this fall. Head of Product Development:John Riley, (www.trekbikes.com) Enter 578

LIGHTENING UP PROTECTION

U.S. Army Soldier Center Marine Corps Lightweight Helmet. The U.S. Marines wanted a lighter, more comfortable helmet with greater ballistic protection-seemingly conflicting requirements. Engineers at the Army's Soldier Center (Natick, MA) modified fiber-reinforced plastic (FRP) helmet construction to resolve those differences. Based on Twaron(R) aramid fiber (www.twaron.com) the helmet is 1/2 lb lighter (15%) than the previous model with improved ballistic protection, which includes resistance to 9-mm rounds not possible before. The Twaron FRP plies are 50% lighter per unit area than previous helmet FRP because of a higher fiber-to-resin ratio for lightness with strength, says Marine Corps Team Leader Jim Mackiewicz. A four-point interior suspension system (up from two) adds stability when running or firing a weapon. And a leather mesh evenly distributes pressure on the head for greater comfort. Marine Corps Team Leader:Jim Mackiewicz, [email protected] (www.natick.army.mil) Enter 579

GPS: TOUGH AND EFFICIENT

Links Point GlobalPoint GPS. Minimizing power draw to maximize battery life was critical for engineers partnering with ruggedized industrial PDA supplier Symbol Technologies for its GPS attachment, says Links Point VP, Operations Rick Haylon. For starters, engineers chose the SiRFstar IIe/LP GPS (www.sirf.com) chip set with 50% improvement in power efficiency over previous chips. The set uses an Adaptive TricklePower mode to draw full power only when in demanding GPS environments (fewer satellites in view, obstructions, etc.). In addition, Haylon notes the proprietary methods and algorithms Links Point engineers developed to further battery life and performance. "Continuously processing the heavy stream of GPS data can overwhelm a hand-held device. To further save processing and electric power, we trim what to look at in the data stream and when to look, based on what the user wants to do." VP, Operations:Rick Haylon, [email protected] (www.linkspoint.com) Enter 580

SHOOT AND STORE

EZPnP EZDigimagic(TM) Digital Imaging Back-up Device. Digital cameras are great-unless you run out of memory while shooting. Rather than buying extra memory cards, the portable and desktop versions of the EZDigimagic directly back up memory cards to a CD-R or -RW (in about three minutes for a 64 Mbyte card). Company engineers developed a 16-bit ASIC processor to "glue" all functions together with a simple, one-button interface, says Senior Electrical Engineer Stanley Hirsh. But, he adds, the greatest challenge was accommodating available flash cards, some of which do not adhere completely to the flash standard. Design revisions, such as reset logic timing and attention to updating the flash adapter with wiring changes necessary to use new media configurations, allow all cards to be used. Senior Electrical Engineer:Stanley Hirsh, [email protected] (www.ezdigimagic.com) Enter 581

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