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Expertise | Product Design

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Innovation strategy icon
Inverted Color Branding Design Firm
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Today, products compete on design. Good product design resonates emotionally, but observing this phenomenon is much easier than creating it. Developed by RKS founder Ravi Sawhney, our unique advanced design thinking method Psycho-Aesthetics (P/A) can be used to predict this emotional resonance. This emotional resonance, which we call “The Hero’s Journey”, is a cornerstone of our unique P/A design framework and philosophy. Using this framework, RKS has been challenged to re-design packaging in India and China for a multinational beverage corporation; to reduce the time associated with laundry (second only to agriculture in water consumption) in India and Europe; and to design solutions to replace wheelbarrows used as human-powered ambulances in Africa and much of the world. At the same time, we’ve developed medical products, appliances, and consumer electronics for the developed world.

RKS is a comprehensive consumer product innovation, design, development, and engineering firm. Whether designing 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

Logos of firms that have hired RKS for industrial design

Industrial Design and Product Design

Human-centered industrial design and product design is a collaborative and cross-functional process. Our team of industrial designers, engineers, researchers, and strategics have collaborated for decades to create globally game-changing designs. We begin most design engagements by understanding the customer and client through primary and secondary research. Then we synthesize that research into actionable qualitative and quantitative insights. We use our advanced design-thinking framework Psycho-Aesthetics to understand how we can design to create emotional connections between the user and product. These emotional connections are what make a product unique, and ultimately successful over the long-term. Over the decades we’ve used this framework to design hundreds of products that enrich customers lives and propel companies forward.

Psycho-Aesthetics (P/A) Advanced Design Thinking Framework

Over the decades spent developing and evolving P/A, it has continually progressed into a highly advanced design-thinking tool that allows designers to solution around shared objective, pragmatic, and insightful approaches to product design. Our P/A product design process has seven phases that begin with research. Within the initial research phase we usually perform customer research, benchmarking, as well as word bank creation. In the next phase we synthesize this research into competitive mapping, triggers and personas, and the Opportunity Zone. At this point in the process we examine, identify, define, and forecast the needs that the product should address. Next we identify and define the Key Attractors engage particular target groups. For each target group we focus on the “Moment of Truth”. Here, we narrow these attractors to those that attract and engage these groups, and cause them to adopt the product and become a Hero evangelist. This design process leads to product design that is ready for execution.

Research

Product design is a consecutive and interactive process that begins with the research phase. Research provides a foundation for all later decisions in the design process. However, at times research is also revisited to understand why and how key features or design decisions drive emotional resonance. This research phase usually begins with customer research. Our research team works with our clients to understand who their consumers are, and how they live their lives. We use primary research tools such as surveys and ethnography, as well as secondary sources such as internal client documentation. In addition to customer research we also do market research through benchmarking. A product or service’s success is usually measured by its performance against its competitors. We create a landscape of potential competitors, how they position themselves, and what their key differentiators and attractors are in the marketplace. We use the P/A Word Bank to create a library of common descriptors to use when benchmarking that can be later used to develop a brand or product’s design, look, feel. These research approaches are used to establish holistic and important understandings that are later synthesized into actionable consumer insights that drive design choices.

Synthesis

During the synthesis phase of the process we transform our research into useful actionable insights.  Often this is when we create the P/A “War Room”. The War Room is an immersive environment that evokes higher levels of empathy and facilitates creative immersion sessions that combine the creative design team with other disciplines, from engineering to marketing to manufacturing and shipping. We begin with competitive mapping where we translate our general understanding of the market to our P/A Map. At the same time we translate our understanding of customers to personas and triggers. We then combine our competitive mapping with triggers and personas on P/A Map, which gives us a qualitative understanding of the Opportunity Zone. The Opportunity Zone is where gaps in consumer emotions and desires are not met by current industry offerings, and where improvements in the market can be made. With the opportunity zone mapped, our cross functional team can now gain a visual understanding of where there is white space representing opportunity.

Key Attractors

Once we synthesize our research we can create insights that will make their way into the product. By identifying repeating patterns of desire in the personas, we are able to define what is most important to each individual. We call these patterns of desire Key Attractors, and we can turn them into considerations to motivate the product design. These Key Attractors will motivate us to choose specific design features, touch points, haptics, and emotional responses that engage particular target groups. They will continue to provide guidance throughout the design process and can be evaluated against competitive offerings to ensure the creation of unique products and services that successfully differentiate in the market.

Industrial Design

Human-centered product design begins with holistic research. We use our P/A framework to guide us through this process. We begin by understanding the customer and client through primary and secondary research. Then we synthesize that research into actionable qualitative insights. These insights allow us to identify the key attractors of our target personas. Key Attractors guide us in making design choices that form emotional connections. These emotional connections are what make a product unique. Over the decades we’ve used this framework to design hundreds of products that enrich customers lives and propel companies forward.

Psycho-Aesthetics (P/A) Advanced Design Thinking Framework

Over the decades spent developing and evolving P/A, it has continually progressed into a highly advanced design-thinking tool that allows designers to solution around shared objective, pragmatic, and insightful approaches to product design. Our P/A product design process has seven phases that begin with research. Within the initial research phase we usually perform customer research, benchmarking, as well as word bank creation. In the next phase we synthesize this research into competitive mapping, triggers and personas, and the Opportunity Zone. At this point in the process we examine, identify, define, and forecast the needs that the product should address. Next we identify and define the Key Attractors engage particular target groups. For each target group we focus on the “Moment of Truth”. Here, we narrow these attractors to those that attract and engage these groups, and cause them to adopt the product and become a Hero evangelist. This design process leads to product design that is ready for execution.

Research

Product design is a consecutive and interactive process that begins with the research phase. Research provides a foundation for all later decisions in the design process. However, at times research is also revisited to understand why and how key features or design decisions drive emotional resonance. This research phase usually begins with customer research. Our research team works with our clients to understand who their consumers are, and how they live their lives. We use primary research tools such as surveys and ethnography, as well as secondary sources such as internal client documentation. In addition to customer research we also do market research through benchmarking. A product or service’s success is usually measured by its performance against its competitors. We create a landscape of potential competitors, how they position themselves, and what their key differentiators and attractors are in the marketplace. We use the P/A Word Bank to create a library of common descriptors to use when benchmarking that can be later used to develop a brand or product’s design, look, feel. These research approaches are used to establish holistic and important understandings that are later synthesized into actionable consumer insights that drive design choices.

Synthesis

During the synthesis phase of the process we transform our research into useful actionable insights.  Often this is when we create the P/A “War Room”. The War Room is an immersive environment that evokes higher levels of empathy and facilitates creative immersion sessions that combine the creative design team with other disciplines, from engineering to marketing to manufacturing and shipping. We begin with competitive mapping where we translate our general understanding of the market to our P/A Map. At the same time we translate our understanding of customers to personas and triggers. We then combine our competitive mapping with triggers and personas on P/A Map, which gives us a qualitative understanding of the Opportunity Zone. The Opportunity Zone is where gaps in consumer emotions and desires are not met by current industry offerings, and where improvements in the market can be made. With the opportunity zone mapped, our cross functional team can now gain a visual understanding of where there is white space representing opportunity.

Key Attractors

Once we synthesize our research we can create insights that will make their way into the product. By identifying repeating patterns of desire in the personas, we are able to define what is most important to each individual. We call these patterns of desire Key Attractors, and we can turn them into considerations to motivate the product design. These Key Attractors will motivate us to choose specific design features, touch points, haptics, and emotional responses that engage particular target groups. They will continue to provide guidance throughout the design process and can be evaluated against competitive offerings to ensure the creation of unique products and services that successfully differentiate in the market.

Baby barista being designed by RKS designers

Industrial Design

Product execution is the transformational challenge of creation, design, and innovation from an idea and research into reality. In the execution phase of the process our designers transform Key Attractors into tangible elements. The tangible elements have to come together into a product. Often elements of a new product pose unique technological, engineering, or design challenges. In those cases we sometimes have to invent new technology or use existing technologies or materials in new ways. We overcome these challenges by focusing on those issues first. Once solved, these issues provide the foundation to design and engineer the rest of the product.

Engineering and Testing

Our design engineering teams have years of experience engineering concept designs. With the help of 3D modelling software (CAD – Computer Aided Design), we develop computerized 3D models of the product. These 3D models will help us to identify any problematic areas where the theoretical stresses and strains on the product to be developed will be exposed. They also allow us to focus on individual components that may require special focus. At the same time they are engineering a product, engineers are also testing the product. Advanced software can expose components to stressors in the virtual environment. These engineering and testing methods enable our engineers to create products that meet their user requirements, while taking into account COGS constraints, manufacturing and production timelines.

Proof of Concept

Our proof of concept method enables our design team to share internal knowledge, explore emerging technologies on the technology roadmap, and provide a tangible concept. This important part of the process is the first place product designs come to life. 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. For some products this can also be the time to do a failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) to ensure that the product meets the safety standards put in place by various governing bodies.

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 form 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.

UX and UI Design

User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design are essential components of our holistic design process. Together they define how a user likes a product or service. While UX and UI are sometimes used interchangeably, they are different. The “UI” is the graphical layout of a product. It consists of the buttons users click on, the text a user reads, the images, sliders, text entry fields, and other items the user interacts with. The “UX” is a user’s experience of the product or service, which is determined by how they interact with it. User experience is determined by how easy or difficult it is to interact with the product or service, and how it makes a user feel about themselves. Our designers apply insights from our research process to UX and UI to ensure that a product is a perfect blend of form and function.

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 design 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.

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.

Product Design Execution

Product execution is the transformational challenge of creation, design, and innovation from an idea and research into reality. In the execution phase of the process our designers transform Key Attractors into tangible elements. The tangible elements have to come together into a product. Often elements of a new product pose unique technological, engineering, or design challenges. In those cases we sometimes have to invent new technology or use existing technologies or materials in new ways. We overcome these challenges by focusing on those issues first. Once solved, these issues provide the foundation to design and engineer the rest of the product.

Engineering and Testing

Our design engineering teams have years of experience engineering concept designs. With the help of 3D modelling software (CAD – Computer Aided Design), we develop computerized 3D models of the product. These 3D models will help us to identify any problematic areas where the theoretical stresses and strains on the product to be developed will be exposed. They also allow us to focus on individual components that may require special focus. At the same time they are engineering a product, engineers are also testing the product. Advanced software can expose components to stressors in the virtual environment. These engineering and testing methods enable our engineers to create products that meet their user requirements, while taking into account COGS constraints, manufacturing and production timelines.

Proof of Concept

Our proof of concept method enables our design team to share internal knowledge, explore emerging technologies on the technology roadmap, and provide a tangible concept. This important part of the process is the first place product designs come to life. 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. For some products this can also be the time to do a failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) to ensure that the product meets the safety standards put in place by various governing bodies.

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 form 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.

UX and UI Design

User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) design are essential components of our holistic design process. Together they define how a user likes a product or service. While UX and UI are sometimes used interchangeably, they are different. The “UI” is the graphical layout of a product. It consists of the buttons users click on, the text a user reads, the images, sliders, text entry fields, and other items the user interacts with. The “UX” is a user’s experience of the product or service, which is determined by how they interact with it. User experience is determined by how easy or difficult it is to interact with the product or service, and how it makes a user feel about themselves. Our designers apply insights from our research process to UX and UI to ensure that a product is a perfect blend of form and function.

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 design 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.

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.

Gamevice device design by RKS design

Markets

Design is the process of generating ideas to solve a problem and create a solution. This design process is the engine of our economic and cultural growth. Our designers have created designs that have enhanced the lives of millions of people around the world. At the same time our products have created new opportunities and for thousands of companies. While there is no recipe for product success, our deep experience utilizing the P/A framework is as close as it comes for product design. We’ve applied our talents and experience to consumer products, industrial products, medical products, and digital products. While the requirements for each type of product differ, they all require deep empathy with the target consumer. This target consumer may be a mom, business woman, factory worker, nurse, or musician. We’ve designed for them all.

Digital Design Solutions

As more people use their devices to interact with friends, family, and companies, emotionally connected digital experiences are more important than ever. These connections are formed by using our P/A framework to solve deep and important needs for users around the world. Not only do emotional connected digital experiences increase important business factors like CLV, and decrease CAC, they drive important human results. We’ve developed digital tools to help solve the student debt crises. We’ve created user interfaces for medical, consumer, and industrial devices that increase efficiency and lower the risks of life-threatening errors. In each case we’ve combined our cross-functional expertise with the latest technologies to deliver engaging and relevant digital experiences.

Consumer Design Solutions

RKS has deep experience in solving complex consumer product challenges. RKS founder Ravi Sawhney began his career on the team responsible for the Macintosh graphical user interface (GUI). This GUI later paved the way for Windows and all other operating systems that required users to navigate visually, instead of with code. Later, RKS was the design lead for the breakout children’s toy Teddy Ruxbin. Since then, RKS has led the design of hundreds of consumer products, many well known in their industries. RKS designed Gamevice, which allows mobile gamers to turn their devices into ergonomic controllers. FloWater, which is leading the reduction of plastic bottles in workplaces, gyms, and competitive sports worldwide. Our team draws upon this experience as we create entirely new products and product categories.

Industrial Design Solutions

Over our long history we’ve designed and consulted some of the most well-known industrial products around the world. From some of the largest carmakers in the world, to the largest semiconductor companies in the world, our work is broad and deep. In most cases our work is confidential. We work in the background to help companies reimagine industries, products, and the processes around them. Industrial products are often incredibly demanding: low tolerances, high-precision, and longevity. New materials are constantly being created. We take our job seriously to design products that meet these demanding needs while using the latest technologies to drive down costs and increase productivity.

Medical Design Solutions

Medical products allow us to use emotional resonance to save lives and help people at their most vulnerable. Because of their importance in care-giving many stakeholders needs are usually considered in the designs. These stakeholders can be nurses, patients, and even the government, which may need to be considered in designing medical products. Each stakeholder potentially has various requirements that range from regulatory to budgetary. We’ve worked in these complex stakeholder environments to engineer mobile ventilators that help people breathe, and designed DNA sequencers to help technicians work with doctors diagnose genetic disease.

Open Innovation Solutions

Some product categories go beyond or blend traditional market categories. The problem they seek to solve is one that has no solution yet. In some cases the solution has not yet found a designer to solve it. Our designers thrive in environments of uncertainty and bold ideas. The best design can come from the hardest problem – a problem where just testing solutions are at the forefront of technology or industry. Our cross-collaborative environment of the best designers, engineers, and innovators is perfectly suited for generating and confronting bold ideas that solve a problem by finding the best solutions.

Markets

Design is the process of generating ideas to solve a problem and create a solution. This design process is the engine of our economic and cultural growth. Our designers have created designs that have enhanced the lives of millions of people around the world. At the same time our products have created new opportunities and for thousands of companies. While there is no recipe for product success, our deep experience utilizing the P/A framework is as close as it comes for product design. We’ve applied our talents and experience to consumer products, industrial products, medical products, and digital products. While the requirements for each type of product differ, they all require deep empathy with the target consumer. This target consumer may be a mom, business woman, factory worker, nurse, or musician. We’ve designed for them all.

Digital Design Solutions

As more people use their devices to interact with friends, family, and companies, emotionally connected digital experiences are more important than ever. These connections are formed by using our P/A framework to solve deep and important needs for users around the world. Not only do emotional connected digital experiences increase important business factors like CLV, and decrease CAC, they drive important human results. We’ve developed digital tools to help solve the student debt crises. We’ve created user interfaces for medical, consumer, and industrial devices that increase efficiency and lower the risks of life-threatening errors. In each case we’ve combined our cross-functional expertise with the latest technologies to deliver engaging and relevant digital experiences.

Consumer Design Solutions

RKS has deep experience in solving complex consumer product challenges. RKS founder Ravi Sawhney began his career on the team responsible for the Macintosh graphical user interface (GUI). This GUI later paved the way for Windows and all other operating systems that required users to navigate visually, instead of with code. Later, RKS was the design lead for the breakout children’s toy Teddy Ruxbin. Since then, RKS has led the design of hundreds of consumer products, many well known in their industries. RKS designed Gamevice, which allows mobile gamers to turn their devices into ergonomic controllers. FloWater, which is leading the reduction of plastic bottles in workplaces, gyms, and competitive sports worldwide. Our team draws upon this experience as we create entirely new products and product categories.

Industrial Design Solutions

Over our long history we’ve designed and consulted some of the most well-known industrial products around the world. From some of the largest carmakers in the world, to the largest semiconductor companies in the world, our work is broad and deep. In most cases our work is confidential. We work in the background to help companies reimagine industries, products, and the processes around them. Industrial products are often incredibly demanding: low tolerances, high-precision, and longevity. New materials are constantly being created. We take our job seriously to design products that meet these demanding needs while using the latest technologies to drive down costs and increase productivity.

Medical Design Solutions

Medical products allow us to use emotional resonance to save lives and help people at their most vulnerable. Because of their importance in care-giving many stakeholders needs are usually considered in the designs. These stakeholders can be nurses, patients, and even the government, which may need to be considered in designing medical products. Each stakeholder potentially has various requirements that range from regulatory to budgetary. We’ve worked in these complex stakeholder environments to engineer mobile ventilators that help people breathe, and designed DNA sequencers to help technicians work with doctors diagnose genetic disease.

Open Innovation Solutions

Some product categories go beyond or blend traditional market categories. The problem they seek to solve is one that has no solution yet. In some cases the solution has not yet found a designer to solve it. Our designers thrive in environments of uncertainty and bold ideas. The best design can come from the hardest problem – a problem where just testing solutions are at the forefront of technology or industry. Our cross-collaborative environment of the best designers, engineers, and innovators is perfectly suited for generating and confronting bold ideas that solve a problem by finding the best solutions.