Home Articles The Power of Design: Part 4 — Birth of an eye-grabbing headset

The Power of Design: Part 4 — Birth of an eye-grabbing headset


Strong design is an essential part of new product development. In the last of his four-part series, Sergei Plishka offers a case study — the design of a Bluetooth headset.

Part 1: Keep your customers smartly packaged
Part 2: The 10 Commandents
Part 3: Top priority to bottom line

The first three parts of the this series explained how good design can increase your product’s success. This case study, on the development of a new Bluetooth headset, ties it all together.

BlueAnt Wireless had developed world-class, innovative technology, including voice activation and noise cancellation features for its new Q1 Bluetooth-enabled mobile headset. The company needed its product styling, ergonomics and presentation to match.

For starters, Outerspace Design helped define target market position and user profile. This inspired the development of a visually strong, geometric form that provided sufficient space for internal components while still looking slim and attractive when worn on the ear.

To maintain the design intent and premium market positioning, a genuine, brushed-aluminium finish was used on the casing. The company logo was incorporated into the product as a subtle backlit feature, to add sophistication and raise brand-awareness.

Usability and ergonomics were enhanced by creating a comfortable and pliable gel earbud, along with an easily adjustable ear-hook optimised for different ear shapes. Tactile controls were purposely designed to visually integrate into the headset, while prototype testing was used to refine its position and ensure its operation wouldn’t affect comfort and fit.

With a global target market, it was imperative that materials and finishes specified meet stringent environmental and performance standards. Minimising decoration and substituting snap-fit assembly for adhesives improved the recyclability of the product at end-of-life.

Finally, eye-catching packaging was developed that allows the headset to float in its presentation case at point-of-sale. Significant reduction in the number of parts and materials used in the packaging were realised through application of Design for Environment principles.

These design efforts have translated into high-volume sales in the first year, and a 2009 Australian International Design Award.

Sergei Plishka is an industrial designer with Outerspace Design, a product development and design firm based in Richmond.

Image by Blue Ant