Over the years we have developed and implemented work in convenience, shopping, speciality, and unsought consumer products. For each type of consumer product and service we’ve worked in various industries, such as technology, CPG, and sustainability. As a full-service consumer product and service design firm, we offer services in research, product design, industrial design, and experience design. We also provide specialized services in product definition, technology roadmap creation, future concept creation, interface design, user research, usability testing, engineering verification, proof of concept prototyping, beta prototyping, intellectual property support, and more.

RKS is a comprehensive consumer product innovation, design, development, and engineering firm. Whether creating new consumer products and services or improving existing ones, we assist at all stages of a product’s life cycle. We use our advanced psycho-aesthetic framework to solve complex problems that address design, engineering, brand, and regulatory issues. Our cross-disciplinary specialists, researchers, designers, and engineers leverage their deep understanding of multiple industries and technologies to spark creative and innovative solutions.

Our Clients

Our Unique Advanced Design Thinking Process

Psycho Aesthetics (P/A) is our unique approach to design thinking. Over the decades spent developing and evolving P/A, it has continuously progressed into a highly advanced design-thinking tool and framework that allows designers to create shared objective, pragmatic, and insightful approaches to everything from research, design, and engineering, to UX, branding, name development, mission and vision statements, user interaction, and more. It provides an open design framework under which the key understandings of mapping onto a consistent framework combine with the creation of a “hero’s journey” for all stakeholders, from consumers to members of our own teams. P/A is a universal design tool and framework that is only limited by individuals’ openness to working within frameworks and their own talents. Combined with “design doing,” success is exponentially advanced when created through this framework.

Research Design

In most cases, designers are not the consumers. Without deeper understanding and insights into consumers’ behavior and psychological patterns, RKS designs would be unable to create long and lasting benefits that help consumers over many years. This foundation of this success comes from insights into consumers, their needs, their aspirations, their challenges, how they work, how they live, how they play, and the interior and social architecture of their lives. We use this picture as the basis of our designs. Ultimately, products informed by user research are safer, easier to learn, and simpler to use.

Ethnographic Research

Ethnographic research is a cornerstone of our advanced design thinking methodology, psycho-aesthetics. Ethnographic research is a qualitative method where our researchers observe and interact with potential consumers in their real-life environment. We routinely go into the field to observe consumers in a broad range of contexts from homes to hobbies. We spend time in their company, and in the context of our product how they live their lives. When we can’t be there physically, we use current and emerging technology to gather and analyze data. In addition to ethnography and observation, we use interviews, benchmarking, and competitive analyses, as well as evaluative research methods such as human factors evaluation, simulated use, and comparative testing. Our team has years of experience designing, executing, and transferring data from our ethnographies to award-winning designs.

Consumer Product Strategy Design

Determining a strategy for a consumer device requires a holistic approach. We consider everything from our client’s priorities, to financial investment, to regulatory requirements, to market identification. In other words, we are not just looking at the product, but the entire UX within the product and the market context. We identify the essential product features and balance those against both product cost and project schedule to come up with a product that meets the consumer’s requirements at a price that they are willing to pay. Our designers serve as consumer advocates, examining all the elements of the UX including everything from user manuals to product graphics, the UI, and servicing issues. To make the most cost-effective products possible, we consider questions, such as what happens when this product is at the end of its life, to what a consumer does with it, to how they disassemble it.

Consumer Product Regulation Support

Because of their general appeal, consumer products often have complex regulatory and compliance issues. To be sold in the United States, consumer electronics for example, must meet FCC, EMC Testing, RF Testing, and Safety Testing requirements. Most products must also meet a specific CPSC product safety regulation, through CPSC certification, with children’s products having an even higher bar with a CPC certification. We consider these needs throughout the design process, so that the consumer products we design are in compliance with the relevant regulations and ready to be tested by the relevant agencies and third-party testing centers.

Market Identification

Often we receive patents or ideas for products and services and then work to create product market fit. To help create product market fit, we use our psycho-aesthetic framework to define the needs and pain points of consumers. We then zero-in on the key aspects of the product that deliver this value and help these pain points. We design and engineer a MVP that can help further design as a product or service that delivers an improvement multiple. A company often overstates this improvement multiple, which makes our qualitative and quantitative approach to market identification even more important to overcome this bias. We have helped companies bring hundreds of product and service ideas to life over our forty years, through qualitative and quantitative market identifications.

 

Our Unique Advanced Design Thinking Process

Psycho Aesthetics (P/A) is our unique approach to design thinking. Over the decades spent developing and evolving P/A, it has continuously progressed into a highly advanced design-thinking tool and framework that allows designers to create shared objective, pragmatic, and insightful approaches to everything from research, design, and engineering, to UX, branding, name development, mission and vision statements, user interaction, and more. It provides an open design framework under which the key understandings of mapping onto a consistent framework combine with the creation of a “hero’s journey” for all stakeholders, from consumers to members of our own teams. P/A is a universal design tool and framework that is only limited by individuals’ openness to working within frameworks and their own talents. Combined with “design doing,” success is exponentially advanced when created through this framework.

Research Design

In most cases, designers are not the consumers. Without deeper understanding and insights into consumers’ behavior and psychological patterns, RKS designs would be unable to create long and lasting benefits that help consumers over many years. This foundation of this success comes from insights into consumers, their needs, their aspirations, their challenges, how they work, how they live, how they play, and the interior and social architecture of their lives. We use this picture as the basis of our designs. Ultimately, products informed by user research are safer, easier to learn, and simpler to use.

Ethnographic Research

Ethnographic research is a cornerstone of our advanced design thinking methodology, psycho-aesthetics. Ethnographic research is a qualitative method where our researchers observe and interact with potential consumers in their real-life environment. We routinely go into the field to observe consumers in a broad range of contexts from homes to hobbies. We spend time in their company, and in the context of our product how they live their lives. When we can’t be there physically, we use current and emerging technology to gather and analyze data. In addition to ethnography and observation, we use interviews, benchmarking, and competitive analyses, as well as evaluative research methods such as human factors evaluation, simulated use, and comparative testing. Our team has years of experience designing, executing, and transferring data from our ethnographies to award-winning designs.

Consumer Product Strategy Design

Determining a strategy for a consumer device requires a holistic approach. We consider everything from our client’s priorities, to financial investment, to regulatory requirements, to market identification. In other words, we are not just looking at the product, but the entire UX within the product and the market context. We identify the essential product features and balance those against both product cost and project schedule to come up with a product that meets the consumer’s requirements at a price that they are willing to pay. Our designers serve as consumer advocates, examining all the elements of the UX including everything from user manuals to product graphics, the UI, and servicing issues. To make the most cost-effective products possible, we consider questions, such as what happens when this product is at the end of its life, to what a consumer does with it, to how they disassemble it.

Consumer Product Regulation Support

Because of their general appeal, consumer products often have complex regulatory and compliance issues. To be sold in the United States, consumer electronics for example, must meet FCC, EMC Testing, RF Testing, and Safety Testing requirements. Most products must also meet a specific CPSC product safety regulation, through CPSC certification, with children’s products having an even higher bar with a CPC certification. We consider these needs throughout the design process, so that the consumer products we design are in compliance with the relevant regulations and ready to be tested by the relevant agencies and third-party testing centers.

Market Identification

Often we receive patents or ideas for products and services and then work to create product market fit. To help create product market fit, we use our psycho-aesthetic framework to define the needs and pain points of consumers. We then zero-in on the key aspects of the product that deliver this value and help these pain points. We design and engineer a MVP that can help further design as a product or service that delivers an improvement multiple. A company often overstates this improvement multiple, which makes our qualitative and quantitative approach to market identification even more important to overcome this bias. We have helped companies bring hundreds of product and service ideas to life over our forty years, through qualitative and quantitative market identifications.

Examples of consumer products designed by RKS

Industrial Design

We prioritize functional industrial design that emphasizes intuitive creativity and calculated scientific decision-making. In our work, we take seriously our responsibility to create impactful products that define their markets and industries, and create new intellectual property. Our highly collaborative environment helps our designers to find best-in-class solutions that consider and define product form and function, usability, physical ergonomics, marketing, brand development, sustainability, and sales. We begin by using our psycho aesthetics research framework to understand the critical needs of our users and determine the areas where we can create the most value.

Consumer Product Definition and Product Design

Our product definition and design framework uses our unique psycho-aesthetic approach, which aims to create emotional connections between the device and consumers. To this end, we ask not how a product makes a consumer feel, but how a product makes them feel about themselves. In the industrial design we consider not only the aesthetic aspects of a product, its specific shape, its color, but also how it feels, and how it delivers “Moments of Truth”. In using whatever product they choose, consumers are seeking acceptance of others. In the case of today’s consumer products that we carry or wear, we seek to convey empowerment. We’re all looking to do more tomorrow than we are today, that is the human condition. Moments of Truth are essential to our needs of self-actualization and acceptance. Using these insights, we aim to create new, distinctively looking products.

Engineering and Verification

Consumer products pose unique challenges that require deep engineering know-how. Our design and engineering teams have years of experience from consumer products, from concept design, to prototyping, through producing and manufacturing. Often these products rely on complex mechanical and electromechanical systems with low tolerances, as well as new materials or existing materials being for new purposes. Using the latest in AR/VR and CAD-based tools, our team of engineers identifies and solves these complex issues early on. Through our engineering and verification expertise we create consumer products that meet their requirements, while taking into account COGS constraints, manufacturing and production timelines.

Technology Roadmap

The technology roadmap development creates our framework for our technologies. The roadmapping is conducted in three phases: preliminary activities, the development of the roadmap, and the follow-up activities phase. In the preliminary activities stage, we satisfy essential requirements, assign leadership, and define the scope and boundaries under the initial vision. In the second phase, the development of the roadmap we identify the critical system requirements, the major technology areas, the technology drivers and their targets, and the alternatives. In the final phase, we allow our roadmap to be critiqued and improved before implementation. This unique process assures that we focus on cost-advantageous technologies that deliver remarkable results.

Proof of Concept

Our proof of concept method enables our team to share internal knowledge, explore emerging technologies on the technology roadmap, and provide a tangible concept. By its nature a proof of concept (POC) is a small exercise to test the design idea, an assumption, or a technology. The main purpose of developing a POC is to demonstrate the basic functionality of our design and to verify a certain concept or theory that can be achieved in development. Included in this can be a failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) to ensure that the consumer product meets the safety standards put in place by various governing bodies, such as the FDA, CSA, CE, and UL.

Beta Prototyping

Beta Prototyping is a quick and effective way of bringing a proof of concept to life and allows potential consumers to evaluate, test and share their feedback. We can use this feedback to make improvements to the design and functionality of the product. Internally, beta prototyping helps our team create a more accurate estimate of how long it will take to complete a production model, and after that to manufacturing. Because our human-centered design framework focuses on the consumer, prototyping is one of the most useful activities for moving forward into production, while quickly finding any issues.

Future Concept Development

After designing a proof of concept and producing a prototype, we roadmap future features, technologies, and products. Future concept development engages the dynamic environment of future technologies, global trends, changing markets, and user needs. Future concepts can include simple requirements or additional proof of concepts and prototypes. This part of the process often depends on the needs of the client, and the specific type of device.

Intellectual Property Support

Patenting new device technology is critical in creating lasting value to our clients and to end consumers. We consider whether there is technology to patent early on in the design process, and work with our customers to file patents to the USPTO. We routinely assist attorneys and agents with the technical muscle to support the patent applications of our clients. Our experts help patent professionals draft effective and comprehensive claims based on the invention and the characterization data. In addition to data, we provide clear technical support throughout the entire application. In the end, patents allow our customers to own outright the innovations we build together.

Industrial Design

We prioritize functional industrial design that emphasizes intuitive creativity and calculated scientific decision-making. In our work, we take seriously our responsibility to create impactful products that define their markets and industries, and create new intellectual property. Our highly collaborative environment helps our designers to find best-in-class solutions that consider and define product form and function, usability, physical ergonomics, marketing, brand development, sustainability, and sales. We begin by using our psycho aesthetics research framework to understand the critical needs of our users and determine the areas where we can create the most value.

Consumer Product Definition and Product Design

Our product definition and design framework uses our unique psycho-aesthetic approach, which aims to create emotional connections between the device and consumers. To this end, we ask not how a product makes a consumer feel, but how a product makes them feel about themselves. In the industrial design we consider not only the aesthetic aspects of a product, its specific shape, its color, but also how it feels, and how it delivers “Moments of Truth”. In using whatever product they choose, consumers are seeking acceptance of others. In the case of today’s consumer products that we carry or wear, we seek to convey empowerment. We’re all looking to do more tomorrow than we are today, that is the human condition. Moments of Truth are essential to our needs of self-actualization and acceptance. Using these insights, we aim to create new, distinctively looking products.

Engineering and Verification

Consumer products pose unique challenges that require deep engineering know-how. Our design and engineering teams have years of experience from consumer products, from concept design, to prototyping, through producing and manufacturing. Often these products rely on complex mechanical and electromechanical systems with low tolerances, as well as new materials or existing materials being for new purposes. Using the latest in AR/VR and CAD-based tools, our team of engineers identifies and solves these complex issues early on. Through our engineering and verification expertise we create consumer products that meet their requirements, while taking into account COGS constraints, manufacturing and production timelines.

Technology Roadmap

The technology roadmap development creates our framework for our technologies. The roadmapping is conducted in three phases: preliminary activities, the development of the roadmap, and the follow-up activities phase. In the preliminary activities stage, we satisfy essential requirements, assign leadership, and define the scope and boundaries under the initial vision. In the second phase, the development of the roadmap we identify the critical system requirements, the major technology areas, the technology drivers and their targets, and the alternatives. In the final phase, we allow our roadmap to be critiqued and improved before implementation. This unique process assures that we focus on cost-advantageous technologies that deliver remarkable results.

Proof of Concept

Our proof of concept method enables our team to share internal knowledge, explore emerging technologies on the technology roadmap, and provide a tangible concept. By its nature a proof of concept (POC) is a small exercise to test the design idea, an assumption, or a technology. The main purpose of developing a POC is to demonstrate the basic functionality of our design and to verify a certain concept or theory that can be achieved in development. Included in this can be a failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) to ensure that the consumer product meets the safety standards put in place by various governing bodies, such as the FDA, CSA, CE, and UL.

Beta Prototyping

Beta Prototyping is a quick and effective way of bringing a proof of concept to life and allows potential consumers to evaluate, test and share their feedback. We can use this feedback to make improvements to the design and functionality of the product. Internally, beta prototyping helps our team create a more accurate estimate of how long it will take to complete a production model, and after that to manufacturing. Because our human-centered design framework focuses on the consumer, prototyping is one of the most useful activities for moving forward into production, while quickly finding any issues.

Future Concept Development

After designing a proof of concept and producing a prototype, we roadmap future features, technologies, and products. Future concept development engages the dynamic environment of future technologies, global trends, changing markets, and user needs. Future concepts can include simple requirements or additional proof of concepts and prototypes. This part of the process often depends on the needs of the client, and the specific type of device.

Intellectual Property Support

Patenting new device technology is critical in creating lasting value to our clients and to end consumers. We consider whether there is technology to patent early on in the design process, and work with our customers to file patents to the USPTO. We routinely assist attorneys and agents with the technical muscle to support the patent applications of our clients. Our experts help patent professionals draft effective and comprehensive claims based on the invention and the characterization data. In addition to data, we provide clear technical support throughout the entire application. In the end, patents allow our customers to own outright the innovations we build together.

Durable consumer product design

Human-Centered Design

The experience of a product is a combination of the industrial design, UI, and branding into a compelling UX. This UX must often comply with regulatory guidance, while providing an excellent UX and UI. During all stages of our design and engineering we apply usability testing we apply formative testing, Human Factors Validation Testing, and Usability Engineering for Risk Management.

Usability & Engineering

Product designers must conduct human factors validation testing to demonstrate that the intended users of a device can use the product to perform the intended uses in the intended use environment.  Otherwise known as usability engineering, the goal of these requirements are to ensure that the device has been optimized to eliminate, or reduce to the furthest extent possible, use errors that could cause harm to a patient. We conduct formative studies on product prototypes with representative users to answer design questions, identify strengths, probe for weaknesses, and detect potential use errors that may occur while using a product. We also work with consumer device manufacturers to craft our research around risk analyses that identify the risks associated with device use and the KPIs that have been chosen to reduce those risks.

UX Design

User experience (UX) defines a great consumer product or service. Three ways that this UX can be measured is performance, accuracy, and usability. To perform a consumer products and services must meet the basic needs of consumers, while solving pain points and creating a solution that is multiples better than existing solutions. Accurate consumer products and services are designed around clear specifications that can be used in manufacture to create a consistent UX. Usable products stand out by being instantly familiar to consumers. In order for these higher standards to be met, the UX of consumer products and services must be considered from research, through design, development, and on to manufacturing. We consider all aspects of the product from, it’s physical dimensions, technical limitations.

UI Design

User interface (UI) along with industrial design are the touchpoints for any consumer product or service. Great consumer products and services meet consumer needs, through a simple and efficient UI. We use human-centered design to think through different use cases, consumer reactions, and consumer context to deliver UIs that are simple and efficient. We also follow the four golden rules of UI design; we place users in control of the interface, we make it comfortable to interact with a product, we reduce cognitive load, and we make UIs consistent. We consider the UI throughout, in order to make sure that the industrial design and UI ultimately combine into a compelling UX that makes consumers their own “hero”.

Brand Design

A brand defines the emotional connection between a product and a consumer through how the product makes the consumer feel about themself. For new consumer products and services, which often compete in crowded competitive environments, it is absolutely essential to have a memorable brand identity. A memorable brand creates a foundation for products to differentiate themselves from the competition in the market, attract investors and partners, set guardrails for marketing, and charge based on the value the brand provides. Many products over simply creating a brand means just a logo and color scheme, typography, and icon set. However, we know that creating a winning brand means conducting a multi-phase interaction of business analysis, audience analysis, brand positioning, creative and messaging, implementation, and maintenance and measurement.

Digital Development

New consumer products and services blend the latest in software and hardware into a unified solution.  Since Marc Andreesen declared that software was eating the world, technology has continued to evolve and new consumer products and services often sit at the intersection of several of these technologies. We continue to develop our deep experience using the latest tools and technologies such as augmented reality SDKs, AI based facial tracking and body tracking/scanning, natural language processing with Amazon Lex, blockchain technologies including smart contracts, decentralized security and privacy frameworks, machine machine learning algorithms and deep learning with TensorFlow and sci-kit, video and image processing, on-device hardware integration, IoT and beacon technologies, and 3D imaging using OpenGL.

Human-Centered Design

The experience of a product is a combination of the industrial design, UI, and branding into a compelling UX. This UX must often comply with regulatory guidance, while providing an excellent UX and UI. During all stages of our design and engineering we apply usability testing we apply formative testing, Human Factors Validation Testing, and Usability Engineering for Risk Management.

Usability & Engineering

Product designers must conduct human factors validation testing to demonstrate that the intended users of a device can use the product to perform the intended uses in the intended use environment.  Otherwise known as usability engineering, the goal of these requirements are to ensure that the device has been optimized to eliminate, or reduce to the furthest extent possible, use errors that could cause harm to a patient. We conduct formative studies on product prototypes with representative users to answer design questions, identify strengths, probe for weaknesses, and detect potential use errors that may occur while using a product. We also work with consumer device manufacturers to craft our research around risk analyses that identify the risks associated with device use and the KPIs that have been chosen to reduce those risks.

UX Design

User experience (UX) defines a great consumer product or service. Three ways that this UX can be measured is performance, accuracy, and usability. To perform a consumer products and services must meet the basic needs of consumers, while solving pain points and creating a solution that is multiples better than existing solutions. Accurate consumer products and services are designed around clear specifications that can be used in manufacture to create a consistent UX. Usable products stand out by being instantly familiar to consumers. In order for these higher standards to be met, the UX of consumer products and services must be considered from research, through design, development, and on to manufacturing. We consider all aspects of the product from, it’s physical dimensions, technical limitations.

UI Design

User interface (UI) along with industrial design are the touchpoints for any consumer product or service. Great consumer products and services meet consumer needs, through a simple and efficient UI. We use human-centered design to think through different use cases, consumer reactions, and consumer context to deliver UIs that are simple and efficient. We also follow the four golden rules of UI design; we place users in control of the interface, we make it comfortable to interact with a product, we reduce cognitive load, and we make UIs consistent. We consider the UI throughout, in order to make sure that the industrial design and UI ultimately combine into a compelling UX that makes consumers their own “hero”.

Brand Design

A brand defines the emotional connection between a product and a consumer through how the product makes the consumer feel about themself. For new consumer products and services, which often compete in crowded competitive environments, it is absolutely essential to have a memorable brand identity. A memorable brand creates a foundation for products to differentiate themselves from the competition in the market, attract investors and partners, set guardrails for marketing, and charge based on the value the brand provides. Many products over simply creating a brand means just a logo and color scheme, typography, and icon set. However, we know that creating a winning brand means conducting a multi-phase interaction of business analysis, audience analysis, brand positioning, creative and messaging, implementation, and maintenance and measurement.

Digital Development

New consumer products and services blend the latest in software and hardware into a unified solution.  Since Marc Andreesen declared that software was eating the world, technology has continued to evolve and new consumer products and services often sit at the intersection of several of these technologies. We continue to develop our deep experience using the latest tools and technologies such as augmented reality SDKs, AI based facial tracking and body tracking/scanning, natural language processing with Amazon Lex, blockchain technologies including smart contracts, decentralized security and privacy frameworks, machine machine learning algorithms and deep learning with TensorFlow and sci-kit, video and image processing, on-device hardware integration, IoT and beacon technologies, and 3D imaging using OpenGL.