In a parallel universe, times are tough, and retail sales are down. So manufacturers have come up with some innovative, elegant products that simplify and improve life. In an exclusive with the Post, we bring you just a few examples of what’s available in this alternative reality.
A thermometer that stays under the tongue. As in our universe, mercury thermometers were deemed hazardous and polluting, and were retired. But in this other world, they realized that it’s annoying to insert under the tongue a device whose center of gravity approximates that of a two-by-four. So the manufacturers designed an oral thermometer that’s fast, accurate, and consistent with a groundbreaking concept known as ergonomics.
A dashboard for human beings. Car manufacturers, working with safety agencies, observed that the more complicated the dashboard, the more likely the accident. So they consulted with researchers who understand how drivers interact with a layout that’s not the primary focus of their attention. Having discovered that the design of dashboards from earlier decades was optimal, they’ve come up with amazing new (oops, I mean old) panels that enable a driver to turn up the heat without risking a head-on collision.
Cell phones for the 50-to-90 set. Phone makers noticed that the huge senior citizen market remains underdeveloped. Meanwhile, some baby boomers (present company excluded, of course) find current models replete with obscure options and confusing icons, but short on straightforward functions such as, uh, staying connected—or, at the very least, beeping to let you know you can stop talking now, because you’ve been cut off.
Connectivity was improved, and phone designers, eschewing the geek approach, collaborated with researchers who had studied how the older brain learns and how it responds to technology. Out with the convoluted, out with the superfluous, in with the intuitive, in with the user-friendly. Who knew big profits and customer satisfaction could co-exist?
Cookware a woman can lift. Pot and pan makers suddenly realized that very few home cooks have the build of a football player, and that the idea of men spending more time in the kitchen doesn’t mean the average woman should sustain musculo-skeletal damage while preparing a meal. So the manufacturers designed durable, non-toxic products that distribute heat evenly and are fully distinguishable from free weights at the gym.
Medicine dosing that’s truly adjustable. Pharmaceutical companies had a bolt of insight: the correct dose of some drugs depends on the individual’s size and body chemistry. 50 or 100 milligrams—why not 70? So they made their medicines available in liquid form, and found that the easy-to-adjust dosing made many doctors recommend their products without needing to be, um, incentivized.
While they were at it, the pharmaceutical companies worked with packaging designers to ensure that medicine for arthritics comes in easy-to-open bottles, medicine for glaucoma patients comes with extra-large print, and medicine for people with anxiety disorders doesn’t list all the scary possible side-effects.
Published in the Piedmont Post October 2009