Wrecker to Roadworthy

Wrecker to Roadworthy – Josh vs Libby in Cobalt’s car restoration projects

The Cobalt team have an eclectic range of fascinating hobbies outside work. However, the word ‘hobby’ doesn’t quite cover the car restoration projects; obsession might be a better description.  Two of our team, Associate Principal Libby Christmas and engineering intern Josh Bell, are in the thick of their very own car restorations. Libby’s 1961 Morris Minor 1000 and Josh’s 1974 Volkswagen Super Beetle L are currently parked at their houses, slowly being restored to their former glory. Libby rescued her car from its idle life under a tree, and Josh’s was formerly owned by an elderly lady, in a decent state albeit some questionable wiring. Despite each car being run down, Libby and Josh saw the sparks of potential waiting to be revived. But has their design and engineering backgrounds helped or hindered their progress?

What inspired you to start the project?

Libby: I was torn between a fun car and further study. But I figured a car project was a great way to do both! That and an excuse to have some fun with car design.

Josh: I’ve always had a pretty strong interest in cars (especially the late 60s to 70s) and I love building/restoring. It’s been inevitable that I would buy a project car since I was 13! Plus, it was a great opportunity to learn more about basic mechanics.

How far along in the restoration process are you?

L: It’s been a slow start removing rusted and stuck parts, as well as learning metal fabrication and welding skills; but things are speeding up. The rear end is almost rust free, and the modifications to fit in newer lights, widen the guards and re-shape the rear bumper area are partially completed. New suspension upgrades should have the rear end finished this year. The front end is going to take a lot longer… but I’d like to be driving the car before I turn 40!

J: It’s coming along a lot faster than I thought; my goal is to have it back on the road this year. At the moment I’m on track. I fixed the majority of the engine issues for now and the interior is 80% done. The suspension and brake overhaul is next.

What part are you most looking forward to completing?

L: Having it run will be fantastic, but the most exciting part is the customisation. I’m changing the body form a lot and incorporating newer features. I’m looking forward to seeing the physical output of my imagination.

J: I can’t wait to lower it! I’ve completed a lot of the other fun jobs and lowering it is the last major one. Once it’s got the right stance I’ll feel as though it’s much closer to being done. I’m also really keen for a bit of an engine overhaul. I’m planning on a adding a couple of speed parts to make it a meaner bug.

Any stories from dodgy car parts sellers?

L: Actually the parts sellers have all been great! I get a lot of encouragement from the guys working/shopping at the wreckers and people in the car community. The only dodgy seller was the guy that sold me the car – who said it was running when he parked it. But the lack of critical hoses, battery, and some epic engine block corrosion showed otherwise…

J: Apart from the classic issues of trying to buy stuff from gumtree or marketplace it’s been pretty easy. I have a fair few odd parts to buy in the next few weeks so we’ll see how that pans out.

What part has taken the longest to repair?

L: Rust! It’s a relatively low-rust car compared to others, but 60 year old rusty bolts are very slow to remove without damage. As my welding and panel fab skills improve I’m a bit freer with the angle grinder and so it’s getting faster.

J: Trying to lower the thing, especially the rear end. It’s becoming extremely difficult due to a 3mm interference. If it cleared it would be a half day job…. I’m dreading getting into it properly but also excited to make it work. My motivation to put the bug on the ground is too high to stop me now.

Has your product design background helped or hindered the process?

L: I’d say both. I have higher standards of finding solutions that both work and look good, and I want the finished result to look as good as a new car – which can be frustrating when I have some gaps in my car specific skills or knowledge. But it’s a benefit to be able to use CAD and trial changes before I do something on the car, to reshape things completely or to design custom parts. I think it’ll mean I’ll end up with a different type of result than most home builders would.

J: At the moment it’s helped heaps. I’ve had to build a few custom parts and I am planning a lot more in the near future. A lot of the plastics parts in the beetle have been bashed, warped or vanished. Once I tune my 3D printer, hopefully those parts can be replaced and updated. Parts the old owners hacked (like the radio) will be nice to replace. Ultimately, using my product design background to make things for the car is also a way for me to put my own individual mark on it and make it a little more one of a kind.

What do you like most about the other person’s car?

L: It runs!! Josh has taken an approach that lets him enjoy the car a lot sooner, which I’m quite jealous of…

J: I really envy the amount of custom work Libby is doing to her Morris. I think that the amount of herself that’s she’s putting into the car will make it so rewarding and awesome when it’s on the road.

So will there be a next project? Libby noted that she’s concentrating on finishing this one before she even thinks about another. And while Josh agrees that his will also take a while longer, he’d love to do a “ground-up” car project or buy an old ‘clinker-style’ ski boat with a V8 inboard. If not that, an old school American muscle car is in his sights.

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cow

GDA Nomination 19

eShepherd nominated for a Good Design Award 2019

We are overjoyed to announce that the eShepherd virtual animal herding solution, designed by Cobalt for Agersens has been nominated for a Good Design Award this year. The Good Design Awards are a prestigious accolade for Australian designers, recognised by the World Design Organization as Australia’s peak international design program. GDA awards are a unique point of difference for design agencies in a crowded market, thanks to the rigorous judging process of actual products rather than images or concepts.

In recent years, Cobalt has received a Good Design Award for our designs on the Victoria Police ADT vehicle, the Dermapen 4, the Maton Guitar Case, the Concave Boot and various Agilent scientific instruments.

The design challenge for this project revolved around creating a viable, modern replacement system for traditional fencing (where traditional fencing is impractical for inhospitable terrain). The solution was eShepherd – an IoT driven platform encompassing a GPS enabled neckband and cloud-based application controlled by farmers which is used to fence, move and monitor livestock. The intelligent neckband system trains livestock to recognise and stay within virtual boundaries, via the use of sensors that detect and respond to animal behaviour. Audio cues and gentle pulse stimuli guide the animals to remain within the virtual boundaries. Farmers use a cloud-based web application to create virtual paddock boundaries and check on livestock activity, all of which are updated dynamically to ensure accurate data. This design solution is reliable and functional in the harshest conditions, combining a durable form with long lasting battery life that has a positive impact on animal welfare.

This nomination for the eShepherd neckband is an exciting recognition, due to the superior level of critical design thinking, product engineering and testing the Cobalt team put into the project. When designing the neckband, Cobalt collaborated with Agersens and electronics development firm LX Group, to design the robust “wearable” device to suit all breeds of livestock.

It was crucial for the design to boast a truly ergonomic form, intelligent technology and a high quality finish to ensure the utmost safety and functionality for both the livestock and the farmers.

Key design elements include:

  • Wireless, IoT and GPS integration
  • Use of sensors, audio cues and gentle pulse stimuli
  • Farmer controlled through a cloud-based web application for accurate data
  • Instant virtual boundary updating from any location
  • Ergonomic and light weight for “end user” comfort
  • Morphometric fitment for self-correcting positioning
  • Solar powered with optimally positioned panels
  • RSPCA, CSIRO and animal ethic committee approved
  • Real-time animal monitoring
  • Fully waterproof unit able to withstand impacts, interactions with other animals and infrastructure, and harsh environmental conditions
  • Tough UV stabilised plastics and fabrics to ensure suitable longevity

Cobalt was involved from discovery and early concept development, through to detail design of the assembly and mouldings. After several engineering prototypes and refinements, Cobalt also undertook pilot assembly of 50-off Alpha prototypes. These involved tooling and several in-house processes to waterproof the enclosure around the PV array.

The prestigious awards ceremony will be held on the 11th of July at the iconic Sydney Opera House, where the winners will be announced. We look forward to seeing how the eShepherd entry performs.

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reception refresh

Reception Refresh

Cobalt HQ’s Reception Refresh

With Cobalt’s major energy efficiency upgrade recently completed, it was time for the front-of-house to receive an overdue refresh. Our reception area had been an interim measure for far too long – project work always taking precedence. Additionally, the need to accommodate more staff was what ultimately compelled us to upgrade the front end of our office.

The vision was simple – keep it clean, modern and undeniably Cobalt. After a rapid three week facelift, the space was transformed from simply serviceable to inspiring. Each element was carefully considered to ensure visual harmony, continuity and a seamless transition from old to new. Driven by our team members Mark, Len and Nathan, the biggest change was the relocation of the main reception desk. Visitors are now welcomed at a new angled ‘hello desk’, featuring strip lighting, timber accents and a parcel ledge. Our design for the Zgo monitor arms, can also be seen supporting the ‘hello desk’ monitors.

The ‘hello desk’ now corners off a new hub, housing the admin and marketing team together for boosted efficiency.  The smarter use of the space also enables us to accommodate 2-3 more staff, with better storage and access across the office.

Bold new carpet tiles give a huge visual lift to the front third of the office, and a custom feature wall separates work spaces from reception, providing visual security from the waiting area. Outside the kitchen a large blackboard has been incorporated into a wall, allowing staff (and visitors!) to express themselves in multiple shades of chalk.

Created by Len, the new feature wall is the most striking element of the renovation. Covered in a 3.2m wide custom perforated metal panel, a bold first impression is created as visitors ascend the staircase from our lower level. Behind the metal a dark mirror finish peeks through. Built into the wall is a backlit ‘Cobalt’ sign, in which we have the ability to dictate the colour, brightness and speed of the transitions at the touch of a button. Better yet, above is a cut-out of our logo with an LCD monitor behind.  Through the day this gives us the unique ability to display a countless number of visual references and textures that influence our work.

Updating the reception also offered a great opportunity to shuffle the team around into a new layout, which has ultimately increased productivity within project teams and prompted our staff to collaborate with new people.

We were blown away with the time and effort our team put into the renovation, with a special mention to Mark (for spending a big portion of his own time on the project), Len (for bringing our vision to life) and Nathan (for coming back to help us out).  

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boost your business

Boost Your Business 2019

Round 3 Boost Your Business Vouchers Now Open!

Cobalt is pleased to yet again be named as a Registered Service Provider within the Boost Your Business initiative for 2019.

‘Boost Your Business’ is a Victorian Government program supporting Victorian businesses to become more productive, employ more people, improve market access and profitability.

The initiative aids small to medium sized businesses (SMEs) that are on a growth trajectory and wish to implement a project that has the potential to deliver long term benefits such as improved productivity, jobs growth and/or increased exports. ‘Vouchers’ or blocks of funding provided can be put towards specialised services from registered providers in the areas of marketing, intellectual property management, research & development, business processing – and most excitingly product development.

This means that if your business is eligible to receive a Voucher from the Victorian Government, you can put that funding towards accessing Cobalt’s 20+ years of industry expertise in product development.

Using the funding you can work towards:

  • Progressing the commercialisation of a product
  • Funding product design activities
  • Small volume production
  • Product testing, validation, prototyping and verification
  • Conduct research and development activities

The program is open to Victorian-based businesses with a registered ABN, and have either 20-200 staff OR an annual turnover greater than $1.5M. The vouchers can range up to $50,000, on a dollar for dollar basis – a considerable boost for a business on the rise.

Naturally, as with any government program, terms, conditions and criteria apply, which you can read more about on their website here. In summary; if you’re a small business looking for product design excellence, Cobalt can help (along with a boost courtesy of the Victorian Government).


Interested? Then be quick! The third round of the voucher offers ends on Sunday the 12th of May 2019. Get started with LaunchPad, or give us a call on (03) 9320 2230 so we can help give you the boost you need.

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amtil

AMTIL

Cobalt Joins AMTIL

Cobalt is thrilled to announce that we’ve recently joined the Australian Manufacturing Technology industry association – or AMTIL for short.

AMTIL is the peak national body that represents manufacturing technology suppliers and users within engineering and advanced manufacturing industries.  Their reputation as a leading industry body has been demonstrated by being appointed to administer government industry grant schemes. This includes the recently announced Victorian “Build It Better” voucher grant*.

Cobalt understands finding the right manufacturing partner(s) can make or break a project.  According to Cobalt Principal, Warwick Brown, “One of Cobalt’s strengths is helping our clients expertly and independently find excellent suppliers especially when transitioning from design/development to production”.  And while Cobalt has decades of real world experience and an established network of suppliers, our AMTIL membership will allow us to expand our network and push our production support capabilities into emerging and advanced manufacturing.

Cobalt’s ‘Manufacturing Technology User’ membership provides us (and our clients) with access to:

  • Extensive manufacturing networks
  • Advanced manufacturing grants
  • Industry events and tradeshows (AusTech etc.)
  • Marketing and exposure (AMT Magazine etc.)
  • Breaking manufacturing news
  • AMTIL programs and platforms
  • Government representation

In addition, through AMTIL events and programmes, our engineers and designers can keep abreast of additive and advanced manufacturing technologies, ensuring we apply the latest thinking to our client projects.

We look forward to the near future with AMTIL.

* AMTIL and the Victorian Government have joined forces to provide small to medium manufacturing businesses in Victoria with funding of up to $20,000 to undertake redesign/reengineering projects to increase their adoption of additive manufacturing technology. The Build It Better grant supports Victorian companies wishing to explore additive manufacturing technology. The grant runs for three years, starting from October 2018; a total grant budget of $1.3 million over three years is available for Victorian businesses. Find out more at: https://www.ppt.com.au/build-better-grant-sme-manufacturers/

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health symposium

Symposium

Monash University Health Collab Design+ Health and Medical Innovation Symposium

Presented by Monash University Health Collab, the 2019 Design+ Health and Medical Innovation Symposium brought together researchers from different disciplines to spark design collaboration and envision a new future for healthcare. Held on March 12 at the Monash Art Design and Architecture (MADA) Centre in Kunshan China, Cobalt’s designs for the Dermapen 4 and Cylite OCT instrument were featured.

The Monash University Health Collab is an interdisciplinary team of researchers, designers and clinicians who employ a people-centred design approach to understand and provide significant high-impact healthcare. MADA Practice Professors Daphne Flynn and Mark Armstrong, along with Centre Director Ian Wong and Centre Creative Director Bernie Walsh run the symposium as a catalyst for innovation and to celebrate design achievements in the health space.

The 2019 March symposium drew academics and business people from both within and outside the health space, facilitating fresh collaboration and inspiring deeper conversations about the future of health care. In a video presented by Health Collab directors Professor Daphne Flynn and Professor Mark Armstrong, they spoke about the importance of utilising design as vehicle to increase traction for health outcomes, and understanding that design is the common thread connecting us all.

The result of the symposium was a success, enabling academics from all over the world to engage with high tech medical companies in Kunshan and to celebrate outcomes already achieved, including Cobalt’s designs.

Wining a Good Design award in 2018, the Dermapen 4­ sets a new benchmark for improving the effectiveness of treatments and resolving traditional limitations, such as power-cord handling issues, calibration difficulties and potential cross-contamination prevention. The DP4 is also the first micro-needling tool capable of performing scar-treatments. The patent-pending 16 needle cartridge has unparalleled needling depth, allowing practitioners to access the Scar Treatment market, expanding the horizons of their practice’s offering.

Similarly, aimed for use in a variety of clinical settings (including both research laboratories and patient-serving clinics) the Cylite HP-OCT ophthalmic device was designed to integrate a high technology core within an ergonomic, user friendly exterior. The revolutionary ocular imaging and measurement technique overcomes issues of motion artefacts or data error from patient eye movement during OCT imaging, and offers a unique proposition to clinicians with its ability to replace four different instruments. The fully automated volumetric acquisition reduces patient chair time and improves the reliability of the results, eliminating guesswork during analysis and diagnosis.

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WOC

The Women of Cobalt – International Women’s Day 2019

This year’s International Women’s Day has inspired us to acknowledge the wonderful women at Cobalt. 2019 marks Cobalt’s highest female participation-level ever, with women making up almost 50% of Cobalt’s staff.  While this is a feat in itself for the industry, what should be celebrated most is the strong work ethic, positive attitude and multi-disciplinary skills that have led them to the positions they’re in today.

According to recent statistics, only 15% of engineering-based graduates are female in Australia. While these numbers are increasing, a large disparity remains between women who graduate from these qualifications and those that make a career of it. Consequently, when it comes to senior roles in product design and mechanical R&D engineering there is a deep lack of female representation.

Comparing these figures to Cobalt’s team dynamics, our balance is a rarity. From admin to engineering, our women are kicking goals not only in their projects, but for female representation and leadership within our industry. Their roles span across project leadership, product engineering, design, admin, finance, marketing and UX strategy.

Cobalt was founded on a culture of teamwork and respect. Our unique strength is the collective of every one of our people; so Cobalt’s diversity and inclusion makes sense in producing outstanding design results. Our shared vision, passion and cohesion creates an environment that invites our team to be their best.

When asked what drives them, the women of Cobalt said that the “sense of achievement when seeing a physical outcome succeed” and “achieving things other people couldn’t” is the motivational force behind their work. But ultimately, what inspires them is the “energy, motivation and passion” of the team and knowing that “the world is better for someone, somewhere because of what we do”.

This ‘can-do’ supportive attitude has been the key to our past successes and current capabilities, building upon the achievements future teams will aspire toward. And there’s no doubt that the women of Cobalt have stepped up as role models for those within the field and those entering it, contributing to a stronger female representation within the industry. We look forward to what heights they will reach next, confident they can do anything they put their mind to.

(Mary and Victoria absent from main picture).

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roof

Eco Upgrade

Cobalt Powers On

Recently Cobalt completed a major energy efficiency upgrade to our North Melbourne offices.

The works so far include a 12kw, 39 panel array of solar panels, an ultra-efficient HVAC system, extensive sealing and insulation works and new LED lighting throughout the building.  These works have already effectively reduced our daily energy consumption by up to 45%. And once stage 2 (energy efficient appliances) is fully complete we are on track to exceed our original target of being 50% self-sufficient in power.

Roadblocks

Since 1996 we’ve believed that design should be socially responsible. So we’ve long wanted our building to have as small an environmental footprint as possible.  But at various points we’d been told that our site didn’t suit PV panels due to a taller neighbouring building immediately on our north boundary.

Despite this, Cobalt Director Jack Magree continued to believe a design workaround could be found, if only we could find the right supplier and a means of making it happen.

Solutions Align

In 2018 two key circumstances aligned enabling us to realise our dream; a financial solution which allowed us to fund the investment, and an engineering solution that could work.

In terms of funding we learnt of MCC’s innovative approach to creating smarter more efficient buildings through the Sustainable Australia Fund (SAF).  SAF was established by the City of Melbourne Council in 2002 to help businesses to invest in their buildings and operations to achieve better sustainable outcomes.  In brief, SAF provides the upfront funding for the works, and the repayments for this loan are based on the resultant savings in energy costs.  Once the investment is repaid, the environmental and cost benefits continue indefinitely for a win-win outcome.

The second alignment came via SAF who introduced us to GenesisNow, an energy engineering and implementation services group. GenesisNow immediately felt like kindred spirits to us, as they had a refreshingly can-do culture combined with a highly technical and professional skill set. Genesis’ founder, Geoff Andrews and his Engineering Manager Jon Fettes took the limitations of our site as a challenge that they wanted to solve. Their first step was a full shading analysis and simulation. This proved that shadowing could be managed to negligible levels through a cantilevered installation combined with new technology PV panels each with its own micro inverter.

Comfort and Efficiency

Producing energy is one side of the equation. Using less of it is the other. An initial power and building audit identified our existing HVAC (heating ventilation and air-conditioning unit) and lighting as the biggest and best items to change.

For HVAC GenesisNow again took a less conventional approach. They relied on the experience of HVAC  specialists EcoServices who according to Jack “specified a revolutionary  German-engineered smart system that moves air silently using the theory of Brownian motion of particles to transfer heat and cold air”.  The systems software continuously monitors  the  outside and inside temperatures,  humidity, CO2 levels, and the pressure of the building, to run far more efficiently than conventional systems.  As an example, said Jack, “On a recent 42oC (108oF) day our new HVAC system’s compressor was only running at 50% capacity. The system is smart enough to learn how quickly or slowly it achieves the target ‘comfort’ values so it can perform optimally in future.”

A central aspect to this system was to significantly upgrade the seals in the building; no mean feat given the fact that our office was built as a basic warehouse in the 1950’s. Another measure of how well the system performs is that despite the studio’s industrial height ceilings the multiple sensors show minimal temperature stratification, keeping the temperature within 1-2 deg throughout the building.

Capping off the HVAC’s smarts, is complete IoT monitoring and control. This allows offsite, expert system diagnostics and onsite adjustment through a web-based portal.  According to Jack, “watching the system’s dashboard certainly helps motivate us to use energy wisely, albeit can be mildly addictive!”

Let There Be Light

The last major piece of the upgrade was to replace our 150W metal halide ‘high bay’ studio lights. Designers are very demanding about their light; needing ample levels of even, natural tone to minimise shadows, render colours accurately and avoid over bright or dull areas.

The studio level’s 20 ‘high bay’ halide lights were originally selected 15 years ago as the premium choice of evenly  illuminating the studio by reflecting some of their light off the high pitched ceiling. And the light fittings themselves looked great as well.

In comparison, LED have a comparatively narrow focus so a low-power alternative that equalled the status quo was always going to be difficult.  The solution involves a triple LED bulb custom designed to fit into the existing housing to reflect light up and down, as well as additional skylight-style LED panel lights to create close to uniform 270 lux lighting at desk level throughout the studio.

The Result

Apart from lower environmental impact and power bills, the result of our eco upgrade is greater comfort, better lighting with the consensus from our team being overwhelmingly positive.

  • “It just feels pleasant, and quiet all the time”
  • “Transformative”
  • “Not sure how we put up with the old system for so long”
  • “Great that we are reducing our CO2 and fossil fuel use”
  • “We’ve literally breezed through the hottest summer on record without noticing”

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van

WGTP

Smart custom vehicle for one of Victoria’s biggest projects

The West Gate Tunnel Project (WGTP) is a major road project that will relieve traffic congestion in Melbourne’s inner west.

To keep the public updated on the latest news during the construction, Cobalt worked with the WGTP construction companies building the project, CPB Contractors and John Holland Joint Venture, to design and supply their Mobile Info Hub – an innovative community engagement solution that reaches communities across the project’s footprint.

The WGTP Mobile Info Hub is geared toward simplicity and mobility, building off Cobalt’s experience with automotive projects like the Innovito van, which won the 2016 Mercedes Benz ‘Hack My Van’ competition. Applying our Design Thinking process, Cobalt converted a Mercedes-Benz Vito van into a mobile code teaching environment, complete with lightweight fold-out desks and 3D printers.

Similar to our winning concept, the WGTP Mobile Info Hub is a self-contained ‘pop-up’ installation that can be driven between community events and provides people with an important hands-on experience to facilitate their knowledge of the project. It positively draws people and families into the space, creating a great first impression and making the Mobile Info Hub a destination rather than an obstacle.

The WGTP Mobile Info Hub is designed to be easily set up by two people in a matter of minutes. It does this by cleverly containing everything required to set up the full display, including:

  • In-built interactive LCD screens
  • Trestle tables including a map of the project
  • A self-supporting canopy for increased interaction space, sun and rain protection
  • An easy-access fridge
  • Hidden material and equipment storage space

Vibrant graphics were chosen to wrap around the Mobile Info Hub’s exterior panels, showcasing key elements of the project and to capture the interest of passers-by. The decals also compliment the overall design of Mobile Info Hub to ensure it is seen by the community as an approachable, credible and aesthetically-pleasing source of information.

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IoT

Why Iot Matters

IoT, or ‘Internet of Things’ is a powerful game changer for many industries , opening a new era of possibilities in user interaction and business models for both consumers and brand owners. By connecting people and products through almost limitless control, IoT will facilitate the merging of product as service, and service as product. But what exactly is IoT, and how can it be integrated effectively?

Most people are familiar with the way smart phones and have moved beyond simply making phone calls. They know their devices seamlessly connect via cellular networks (and Wi-Fi, Bluetooth etc.) to access all sorts of services.  IoT is similar, but applied to more traditional products (or things) which are then monitored and operated through a phone app, laptop or desktop PC. This allows:

  • Users – unprecedented levels of convenience and control of their device remotely via a user-centred interface
  • Manufacturers – new levels of features, value-add possibilities and even payment models (i.e. pay-for-use, subscription etc.)

While the under-the-bonnet workings of IoT are advanced and technical to create, done well IoT products can be ‘frictionlessly easy’ to use.  Many are already using this technology even if the terminology is only now becoming commonplace. Some common examples of IoT today include:

  • Consumer products such as laser printers that print wirelessly from your desktop or mobile – even if you’re not in the office. These printers will also let users know when ink is running low and facilitate ordering replacements.
  • Industrial equipment such as bus ticketing machines that can communicate in both ways with the system operator; offering real time customer feedback, status or failure notifications, payment processing, software and firmware updates, etc.
  • Other common products such as security alarms, smart home systems and object tracker tags

But while IoT is around us more than we think, we’ve only scratched the surface of its true potential. Products and user-experiences (UX) can be truly reimagined to better meet current and future user needs. Products can become more integrated into people’s lives, and brand-owners can offer more flexible/profitable delivery models.

Designing IoT

A complete IoT system requires a number of elements that work closely together. These elements include creative and UX approaches (design), technical implementation (engineering) and ongoing service support (service suppliers). A user-centred design approach is the key for these elements to work cohesively as an integrated whole.

A typical system might include:

  • Service (or Experience) Design: The design/integration of the total system
  • Industrial Design, Mechanical Engineering: The core physical product (such as a home alarm, or a cow-mounted GPS)
  • Information Design, App Design: Development of the Graphic User Interface (GUI) for both the product and app, and any other specialised product display sound or haptic notifications
  • Electronics Design, Software Engineering: Development of the electronics, firmware/software, wireless communications, power management etc. systems.
  • Data Engineering: ‘Cloud’ platforms that collect/process data for both operator and user operations.

A Cobalt IoT Case Study

At Cobalt, the integration of IoT in our product design has been at the forefront of many projects. For instance, the eShepherd virtual herding system, engineered for agri-tech innovator Agersons is a cattle collar that allows farmers to remotely manage and monitor their livestock from any smart device. Cobalt created the heart of the system to be a wireless IoT GPS device, and this allows farmers to construct virtual fences that define grazing areas. The seamless integration of IoT in this project ensures that the livestock are safely, reliably and humanely controlled, and that the welfare of the farmers is also at a priority.

Additionally, Cobalt’s KickerTube design for Concave Sports is an interactive point-of-sale installation where customers can have their kicking speed measured and displayed.

Mechanically, the KickerTube is designed for quick and portable set-ups, and its integrated GUI offers users with instant speed statistics, single and multi-player modes, links to social media and comparison with champion players. This IoT integration provides an immersive physical experience that is unique and memorable.

Cobalt have also successfully integrated IoT into a number of more GUI centred designs, including the Setec Drifter and BM Pro mobile home management devices,  where the IoT systems manage all battery-powered functions for users with a limited tech background.

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