FACE – ON
FUSE was contacted by a team of seasoned product marketing professionals at the onset of the pandemic. They wanted help designing a face mask for professionals working the front line in health care, teaching and emergency services.The team had identified that seeing the facial expression of these first responders and front liners would be valuable to reinstate the calm and confidence these pros always want to communicate to the people they’re helping. The team was also obsessed with minimizing the waste associated with disposable masks. While the filters are not washable, they are recyclable.
To achieve the crystal clarity, the mask would need to be silicone injection molded. This lower durometer material and process also allowed for the undercuts we needed for a clever face seal and the nesting of the replaceable filters cartridges.
Keen viewers will recognize the Iron Man inspiration in the chin area of the mask. Actually, what we were doing was reinforcing the chin to keep it stiffer so we could achieve greater elasticity in the jaw for mouth opening and talking while still maintaining a good seal to the face.
A couple of entrepreneurs came to FUSE with a big idea: they wanted to reduce all the CO2 and waste created by single use disposable containers. They wanted to replace all these earth killing, land-filling, leaky containers with a collapsible silicone container that diners could bring with them. This sounded good, but these containers exist. The pandemic certainly didn’t help either.
We thought, “This isn’t good. We can’t take their money to make another plastic container….”. We brainstormed. We drew concepts. Like we always do, we explored. We also knew the pervasiveness/success of all the insulated water bottles. Could we bring this insulated utility to food?
We hated all the fussy bento box-like little containers. Who eats like that? People are eating bowls of low glycemic index carbs and proteins. Or, imagine if you’re a frutarian, wouldn’t cold watermelon be good at noon? Yes it would. Do you really want to risk that thirst quenching red goodness to the office fridge? No you do not. You know your so called trusted office mates are food thieves! Maybe it’s a sign of security that they know you well enough to eat off your containers. Beyond food security, we also imagined other uses (e.g. a nice product to take on day hikes, a way to carry temperature sensitive medicines, etc).
We did some concepts and shared them with our world saving duo. The team liked it. Now we had to find a way to make this product something other than cylinder shaped. I’d get into the details, but you’ll notice almost all twin-walled, vacuum sealed stainless steel containers are cylindrical. There are lots of You Tube videos on how these are made, but our soon to be Marwall Pod would require a new path towards commercialization. This was a problem.
We scoured the world and located a company that believed in our team’s vision and they found a way. Armed with this confidence and this new factory partner, we forged ahead. FUSE did multiple thermal studies and realized we needed a twin walled lid to achieve the insulative properties we wanted. We added utensils (keen observers will recognize this as giving a nod to ancient Inuit tools) and stored them on the inside of the twin walled lid. We sealed the pod and the twin walled lid with a silicone gasket. Sliding latches with rotatable carabiner-able loops lock the lid to the base.
We imagine the metal part can last a lifetime or more (barring a fall off a cliff), but the plastics (don’t worry — they’re BPA-free Tritan) while tough, may succumb over time. All these parts are replaceable, so your pod will last a lifetime (if not cut short by a climbing accident and we know you’ll only be thinking about your Marwall Pod in that event…). We are so confident this is a lifetime-plus product, inside the metal container there’s an area to engrave to whom you want to bequeath your Marwall to.
Serial entrepreneur and avid competitive tennis player, Dr. Rahul Anand (he’s an anesthesiologist), was annoyed when he saw college and pro tennis players throwing sweat laden towels on the court after wiping off. Initially, he had hoped this was just a rare occasion, but it continued to happen. Dr. Anand even contacted the players and/or their management teams to make them aware of the hygiene problem this towel discarding was causing. Still, no change. Exasperated, Dr. Anand decided to take this problem on. This is where FUSE comes in.
Armed with the problem Dr. Anand was trying to fix, FUSE got to work. FUSE retraced the research, and for sure, this problem is a new animal. Not that it’s rare, just that its not been recognized. Lots of products start this way, we as humans adapt to situations. Look at what TESLA is trying to do with the removal of stalks.
After numerous concepts and a couple of full scale prototypes. A tight production budget started to provide clarity. Our team and Dr. Anand settled on the Rocket concept. Initially the Rocket was a single part roto-molded creature. It would hold towels, warm-up clothing, balls, hydration and personal items (phones, keys , wallets, etc.).
While initially designed for tennis, our team imagines the pod being valuable in multiple venues. The Sport Pod is at home pool side, beach side, in the gym and in the world of hospitality. With available accessory trays, the Anand Sport Pod is the perfect guest at your next barbecue.
In order to ship around the country, the world, and not ship air (or cost more than the product), we worked with the molder to make the the legs snap on. It fits into a FEDEX and UPS friendly box and sets up in minutes with no tools.
Athletic Trainer Taylor Peasha and professional Deep Sea Diver Steven Macdonald came to FUSE for help designing a super versatile training aid. Combined with some simple exercises and stretches, the medium density elastomeric ball provides just the right amount of point load to massage knotted muscles and compressed nerves.
On the engineering front, the big innovation is we use a single injection molded part that is simply flipped over to hold the strap securely. This part features a snap finger that locks to itself.
The OTTOLOCK has been a break away success for OTTO, but the company was looking for a more stable mount for their coiled genius. OTTO came to FUSE with a physical model that was pretty close and FUSE worked with OTTO to refine their idea and prototype the refined design.
FUSE refined and simplified the design to separate the mounting to the bike function and the securing of the lock to the mount function.
After a friend’s kid got hurt while playing with a stick, we had an idea. Why not make a safe stick? All kids love sticks, right?! SofStick is that safe stick. Made from elastomeric bead foam (think that molded packing foam that protects your new iMac), Sofstick provides all the fun of a real stick without the stabbing risk. Also, SofSticks float so can easily be a replacement for a foam pool noodle and be an all season toy. We designed a 46″long sword size SofStick and a thicker SofLog version.
Pulse Health had a way to measure key biomarkers non-invasively. They were able to measure this biomarker in exhaled human breath and had a small personal device in their stable but now wanted a clinical version.They came to FUSE for help with this device. FUSE took them all the way through prototyping.
One of our key contributions beyond the industrial design was we created user model scenarios to help the team understand how the device would be used. Once we showed a few of these graphic storyboards the team came alive to determine how best the device would be used.
After the Herman Miller RED Orbiter project, we had this idea about a way to better the Ready To Assemble / IKEA idea. I mean, who really wants to spend the time building furniture if you don’t have to? How cool would it be if you could still flat pack that piece of furniture,but then its already assemble and all you need to do is “pose it” and then just lock it down? It would be not only flat packable but also transforming and poseable into different postures. We thought it would be really cool and started with a chair- the Arma Chair like “armature” – get it?! Clever, right?
This was a proactive project providing a solution to the problem of bike parking since most bike have lost kickstands. The problem is you lean your bike against paint damaging poles and then your bike suffers more than cosmetic damage. We got this into Wired magazine and sold into REI. The rubber manufacturer who was pressing BIKEBARK bought the product a few months after we premiered at Interbike.
A Multitool That Takes Selfies
With our experience in designing tools and knives for GERBER we end up dreaming of versions of these products all the time. Most of them are not so great, but some are so simple and good they need to be realized. The multi-tool tripod was one of them. We put our noses to the grind stone and created a series of sketches, a wooden model and a presentation that could show how this new product would be appealing to a demographic new to the multi-tool world. This demographic included women and urbanites more familiar with Instagram than deer hunting. We presented and GERBER said “ME WANT” or the equivalent for a big corporation. FUSE did not do the industrial design but we do own the IP.
We were awarded the utility patent in 2014.