Sunday, November 4, 2012

Benefits & Flaws of Industrial Design

The profession of Industrial Design focuses on the creation of new products. There are several benefits of this practice, but what industrial designers do has also led to a host of problems. Explain two benefits and two problems with examples.

Industrial design is about industrial manufacturing products. At the start of product development process, there is ambiguity around what the product may be about. Therefore, research is undergone in order to understand the problem to know which solution will best address the problems and customer needs of the market. Characteristics of an industrially designed product include its aesthetics. Function is critical but how beautiful the product is designed is important in today’s world. With that, the user interface design is a major output to ensure the relationship between the user and the product is easy to maximize the usage of the product. There are a few benefits that are brought up in class such as how industrially designed products aid in continuous improvement efforts, improve the lives of people everyday, humanizing technology and usability. The last two are the ones I will focus on this paper.

Humanizing technology relates to not what the product can do or how it does it, rather what it can do for a particular user-me. The intent of the technology is to be able to link directly with the human touch, in a flawless manner. A great example of this is the Apple iPad. Last year, I won the iPad in a company raffle and had no idea what I was going to use it for. My brothers all wanted to take it from me stating how they’re going to do work on it, read, play games, keep track of their appointments and keep up with their social networks. I didn’t give in as I wanted to cherish my prize. So I picked it up and started using it as a tool for easy access to my social networks while listening to my iTunes playlist. Then one day, I came across an easy blogging app and between that and the note pad function, it became easy for me to get back into writing. The touch keys made it easy to type with one or two hands and it’s weight didn’t make me have any sore hands. In between my breaks, I was able to watch my favorite shows on Netflix or find the latest foreign film. When my brother asked for it again, I was attached and he was surprised at my answer for what I use it for with a response “that’s it?” I guess I’m a pretty good example of an overserved consumer.

Usability is defined as how a product does a specific job. Products may have the design and capabilities to live up to its function, as the example of the hammer in class can be used to put support nails into a new painting on the wall. However, if you’re using nails 50 mils in diameter and 1 inch in length, you may not want to use a large hammer designed for creating the framing of a new house. Another example is how there adult size and child size cuffs for testing blood pressure in the medical industry. There was a time I was admitted into the ER and when the nurse took my blood pressure, she had this confused look on her face. After asking me a few questions, the readings displayed didn’t match how I was feeling. (Note: I was about 22 going in for abdominal pain, not heart issues.) She stood there and then had a smile on her face as a light bulb turned on above her head. She walked out of the room and came back with a bright colored cuff and wrapped it around my arm. She laughed when reading the display stating “now that’s better.” Not feeling well, I was trying to make out the difference of what she did. She held up both cuffs up in the air and that is when I realized one was the adult size cuff (the first one) and the brightly colored one was the child one.

Some of the problems stated in class about industrial design are profit without value products, objective fetishization, conspicuous consumption and elitism and exclusively. As the last two relate to each other in some extent, I will focus on these two and provides examples of these issues. Conspicuous consumption are attract consumers who are always looking for the next best thing to show off to their peers. They waste time and money such as much as they consume. Most of the time these type of consumers purchase these particular items to exemplify their status in the nation. Celebrities are a great example of conspicuous consumers where they have so much money they don’t know what to do with- no wonder the paparazzi follow them! The example I’m going to share is the short fling of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries. The engagement ring presented to the superficial actress was a 20 carat diamond worth $2 million; which was a discounted price from what I was told. Every woman loves diamonds, but honestly that’s too much. I don’t know if I’d be able to handle a 2 carat diamond when I get engaged.

For elitism and exclusive purchasing, the relates more to individual groups purchasing key sets of products that will ultimately move the entire market in that direction eliminating the option of low cost alternatives. With everyone being obsessed with the best health and fad diets, the examples I think of here are items purchased at Trader Joe’s or like organic health markets. The items are run on average 60% higher cost compared to your local Fry’s Marketplace store and most of the time if you actually read the label, what you get at Fry’s is healthier!

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