If you have an iPhone or iPod, chances are you also have an iHome speaker and docking station. Over the past week, Philadelphia University industrial design students worked tirelessly to develop new concepts and designs for four models of the ubiquitous iHome – all part of the eighth annual “Sprint” Challenge.
The 109 students, divided into 25 teams, presented their concepts Jan. 26 to judges, including the Challenge’s sponsoring judges, Andrew Skurdal ’04 and Jennifer Garrett ’08, both industrial design alumni and industrial designers at SDI Technologies.
“A one-week project that immerses students into an intense collaborative team dynamic is a challenge in its own right, let alone delivering solid design concepts and ideas that have real credibility and marketability,” said Skurdal, who competed in the first “Sprint” Challenge while an undergraduate at Philadelphia University. Skurdal’s major responsibility with the company is product design and development, where he focuses much of his time on the iHome, one of SDI Technologies’ several subsidiary brands.
For this “Sprint” Challenge, teams were charged with redesigning or enhancing iHome models, along with designing within certain constraints, such as fitting into current package size or creating smaller packaging; maintaining or reducing part counts; investigating new uses for design styles, such as acrylic and lighting; optimizing hardware and software interaction; and identifying “app-enhanced” performance; to name a few – all while affirming the iHome brand and style.
“From presentation to mockups, prototypes and design concepts, the project was a success and showed a high level of professionalism and successful team work on behalf of the students,” Skurdal added, reflecting on the designs and concepts he saw during the presentations this year.
Cheers were heard when the winners were announced at the end of the day Tuesday, Jan. 26. The top award was given to Team 13 for its innovative and fun approach to redesigning the portable MP3 speaker system iHome model, iHM9/10. The team took a colorful and fun approach to the $25 price-point product, with teenagers as the target market for the design. Team members David Lang ’11, Eric Holzer ’10, Brian Widin ’12 and Nicholas Castanheira ’13 were awarded with SDI Technologies’ latest version of the iHome that will be available in March.
Second place was awarded to Team 21 for its unique concept to create new iHome products to focus on personal health-related iPhone applications. The design, named iHome+Health, was created by John Modestine ’11, Geoff Quinter ’10, Jacob Frey ’12 and James Domalewski ’13.
“The ‘Sprint’ Challenge gives students the opportunity to experience product design under real-world constraints, such as limited time and resources,” said Mike Leonard, associate professor of Industrial Design, who co-coordinates the competition each year with Associate Professor Tod Corlett. “It’s also a excellent way for the students to learn what it’s like to work collaboratively as a team and to focus more closely in an industry environment, all while enhancing products currently on the market.”
The next step – after the students have a chance to rest – is to take several of the products from the Challenge and collaborate with business faculty and students to develop business and marketing plans, noted Leonard.