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Steven Chen, CSUF Mihaylo College of Bus/Econ  

Click here for Steven Chen's Bio

Friday, February 19, 2010
Do infomercial products fix anything?
Five everyday problems I seek to fix
A function of design is to identify and solve problems that consumers face in everyday life. The problem-solving orientation of design parallels the central axiom of marketing – that successful products satisfy consumer needs.

Please allow me the opportunity to focus on issues of the everyday variety. Below, I identify five problems that represent product-design opportunities for marketers. Will someone please create solutions for them?

1. 3-D GLASSES FOR PEOPLE WITH GLASSES



With the advent of movies such as "Alice in Wonderland" and "Avatar," 3-D movies are no longer just gimmicks. They might be the way of the future. If these movies are the future, then someone has got to do something about developing 3-D glasses for people with glasses.

Putting two pairs of glasses on my face is quickly turning into a pet peeve of mine. It is turning me away from the 3-D IMAX experience. It is cumbersome, odd, and I am definitely not trying to looking cool by putting plastic 3-D frames on top of my Ray Bans.

2. TECHNOLOGY-UNFRIENDLY KHAKIS


Today, men are carrying around more and more in their pockets. They have wallets, keys, a mobile device (or two), pens and coins, just to name a few common things. After all this stuff is stored in the pockets, there is an unaesthetic bulge that resembles a bag of oranges. To make things worse, when in a seated position, it is nearly impossible to access these items. Try collaring your cellular phone when driving – without performing in-car acrobatics. It’s hard!

In Asia, men have started carrying man-bags as part of the solution, but that is not yet socially acceptable here in the U.S. We also have cargo pants, but sometimes we need the business-casual look. We need khaki pants that look professional, but also have functional storage and access capabilities.

3. BLUETOOTH HEADSETS GET LOST TOO EASILY


Speaking of technology, someone needs to develop a Bluetooth headset that can be easily located once displaced. Bluetooth headsets are now mandated by California law for driving. But between recharging and carrying it around, it is easily misplaced. I am on my fourth headset. I spent more on headsets than the phone itself, and I know this isn’t going to be the last one that I lose. It is only a matter of time.

4. WIRE HELL

With Bluetooth and the development of other wireless technologies, one might think we would see a decrease in the amount of wires in the home. However, the reality is that the wireless technologies’ chargers and adapters have wires that plug into the computer or the power outlet. As consumers purchase more of the next great things that latch onto their home-entertainment-super-computer-system, the backend matter starts resembling an unstoppable Matrix-ian nightmare. Please save my home!



5. WARMING BABY BOTTLES IN PUBLIC

I credit my friend with this idea: Suppose you recently had your first baby with your partner, and you love your baby more than the world – except for the fact that you have to feed her warm milk.  At home this is easy. But one of the most annoying things is how to feed your baby warm milk when in public. You are tired of using your old method of warming the baby bottle by hauling an additional piece of Tupperware, running to the public bathroom to run hot water into it and soaking the bottle in the warm water.

Your friends tell you there are different options in the marketplace, and that you could easily shop for it. There are car-charger units, but let us say you are at Disneyland. You will not run back into the car to warm the baby bottle. There are battery-operated units, but they seem a little too big to be portable. There are single-use gel packs that use a chemical reaction to generate heat. But these don’t seem sustainable, and it gets expensive to purchase over time. So until a portable, convenient and sustainable solution comes along, the tried-and-true method of Tupperware-soaking will be maintained.

CONCLUSION

These five examples are problems that I encountered in my daily experience. There are so many more problems yet to be discovered. Next time you get really mad at something, don’t curse or yell. Instead, write down the problem on a Post It and send it to your local product designer or marketer.