ONE TOUCH™ CAN OPENER INTERNATIONAL DESIGN EXCELLENCE AWARDS 2007 GOLD WINNER CASE STUDY
In the early stages of design, several concepts were developed and full size mock-ups were tested and compared to a variety of existing can openers. A test panel of people representing various different user groups and consumer segments was created specifically to assess and refine each concept. Including fit and young people, left handed people, senior citizens, and people with limited manual dexterity. The test panel was an invaluable source of real life insights from real people.
The testers found that almost all existing can openers had unwanted features stemming from a focus on ease of manufacture, rather than ease of use. They highlighted elements of early mockups that made the shape more unattractive or introduced ‘dirt traps. They also highlighted just how surprisingly influential aesthetics are. At first, mock-ups whose physical appearance suggested the can opener functioned better were chosen over those prototype openers that actually did function better - a clear signal that the key to creating the ultimate can opener lay in the combination of superior functionality and attractive design.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Leonardo Da Vinci
In understanding the significance of this combination, the internal mechanism was actually developed alongside the product’s overall shape. In fact, bearing in mind the importance that design would clearly play in the product’s success, even the appearance of the internal details was carefully considered so that a semi-transparent version of the final can opener could made that would be attractive.
With the number of parts down to a bare minimum and with the comments of the test panel in mind, unsightly features were then eliminated from the design; the can opener’s cutter and drive wheels were made to retract when not in use which also meant the potential for any user injury was minimised, and access to the batteries and cutting mechanism for cleaning was simplified and streamlined by splitting the unit into two halves which could be easily slid apart.
The final shape was one inspired by the natural form of a water-smoothed pebble which compared to the sharp edges and even sharper blades of traditional can openers proved altogether more inviting to the touch.