10 Product Innovations You Need on Your Radar Right Now
A brilliant product is more than just an object. It's a deep understanding of a consumer and a marketplace. It's a problem solved for people, but in physical form. Brilliant products make a case for themselves. They, in a word, fit.
Georgina Gooley was tired of shaving with men’s razors. “I did it out of principle because I didn’t want to pay the ‘pink tax,’ ” she says, referencing the higher price many companies apply to products for women. As Gooley watched brands like Harry’s and Dollar Shave Club catch fire, both of which targeted men, she couldn’t help feeling that women were once again getting a raw deal. So she set out to change it, and last year she launched Billie, a subscription razor company for women.
“We wanted to create a premium product specifically for women, at half the price,” she says. To do that, she and her cofounder, Jason Bravman, conducted countless focus groups, obsessing over the details. “We did many iterations of the handle, tracking how women held it, to determine the best ergonomics.” Gooley was surprised to find that one of the biggest complaints had almost nothing to do with the product itself. “Almost all women said they never used holders for their razor, because they always come with a suction cup and they always fall down.” She challenged designers to create an elegant, minimalist holder and they came back with a powerful magnetic clip that adheres to the wall -- any wall -- with an extra-strong putty. “It just works, and it gets such great feedback,” Gooley says. “It’s different from anything on the market.” (Written by Stephanie Schomer)
At CES in January, L’Oréal debuted the UV Sense, a tiny, wearable, battery-free sensor that sticks to your fingernail and tracks your sun exposure. It works with your smartphone to relay that information and remind you to get out of the sun or reapply your SPF. The accessory hits stores this summer, and can stay on a thumbnail for two weeks.
Last August, The New York Times wrote about Allbirds with this headline: “To Fit Into Silicon Valley, Wear These Wool Shoes.” It was a crowning moment for the sustainably sourced, heat-regulating wool shoes that have burst in popularity -- though in truth, the Allbirds obsession stretches far beyond the Bay Area. More than a million pairs have sold at $95, and this spring, Allbirds announced a new material made from eucalyptus pulp that requires just 5 percent of the resources typically required to produce a single pair of shoes.
Your expectations for a salad from a vending machine are probably pretty low. But what if that salad were made fresh that day, cost just $8, and you could get it in your office breakroom? Farmer’s Fridge currently has 120 vending machines across the Midwest selling restaurant-quality salads, sandwiches, bowls and breakfast foods, and plans to double its footprint this year. But the real secret sauce -- or dressing, if you will -- is that each menu item is built based on data. The machines track temperature and inventory to make sure food stays fresh and sold-out items are quickly restocked.
Urban dwellers, rejoice! Heatworks’ latest product, Tetra, which will hit shelves later this year, is a countertop dishwasher that can clean a small amount of tableware, no plumbing required. It’s good for the environment, too -- handwashing uses 10 times more water than a dishwasher, meaning the Tetra could help a two-person household save 1,500 gallons each year.
The term heated jacket probably brings to mind images of bulky coats visibly packed with more technology than an article of clothing should carry. That’s why the China-based Flexwarm created a stir when last year it released its 8K Flexwarm, which looks like a normal jacket and comes with slim, lightweight heating pads sewn directly into the lining, warming to 122 degrees in six minutes. It also syncs with your smartphone, letting you control each individual heater for maximum comfort.
Bowery is making indoor farming more than just a buzzword. The produce company grows “post-organic” food -- zero pesticides or chemicals 00 and uses proprietary technology to track growth and manage crops. (As a result, the product packs a surprising amount of flavor.) Since operations don’t rely on the weather cycle or even natural light, Bowery can plant, grow and harvest with extreme precision and speed year-round, producing 100 times more food than a similarly sized plot of land could. Products are currently sold in New York-area Whole Foods stores, but a new facility set to open this summer with 30 times more production capability signals an impending retail expansion.
Nike’s Pro Hijab went on sale this past December, finally serving hijab-wearing athletes who’ve been either ignored by the athletic industry or forced to make do with inadequate products -- often made of cotton, which traps moisture. Nike worked with Muslim athletes to get the design right, using moisture-wicking polyester and ensuring the product stays secure but comfortable around the neck.
In 2015, Detroit-based furniture maker Floyd introduced its first product: a sleek, affordable bed that was easy to assemble and disassemble, appealing to young city dwellers who were ready to upgrade from IKEA. It became so popular that it landed retail placement at West Elm. In November 2017, Floyd finally followed it up, releasing a sharp-looking table that requires zero tools to assemble, furthering the company’s commitment to good, easy and mobile design. Investors are impressed, too. The next month, the company announced a nearly $6 million round.
Vicis is fighting the NFL’s biggest problem: head injuries. Unlike traditional helmets with a hard exterior, the five-year-old company’s Zero1 helmet design features a slightly pliable shell and interior layers that better absorb shock and impact. Two years in a row, the Zero1 out-tested 32 other helmets in the NFL’s safety trials. In addition to equipping professional and NCAA players, the product will become available to high school athletes this year.