Dart. The hardworking, good looking handheld scanner

Three companies, three continents, three time zones, three months, countless coffees and one product designed to perfectly fit in your hand.

Today we’re looking back at one of our favourite projects of 2013 – for US-based inventory consulting company Datascan. Late last year we worked with Datascan to create a next generation handheld scanner tailored for the retail industry. The little guy is now known as ‘Dart’, which is appropriate because we think it’s one of our sleekest product designs yet.

data scanner

The challenge

Datascan provides hardware and software inventory solutions to leading retailers in 35 countries. An industry leader and innovator, they wanted to create a powerful new handheld scanner that would stand up to the demands of fast-paced, high-volume inventory counts. It had to offer the most user-friendly experience: touch-screen technology, a fast operating system, a sleek and modern aesthetic and be backed by a clever design that maximised comfort and productivity.

With their innovation in mind, a Chinese OEM lined up for production, and a tight timeframe of three months to design a product ready for manufacture, they approached us for help to realise their idea. Which is what we do best.

Our solution

We started our process by thinking about where the product would end up – in the hands of thousands of busy retail and warehouse workers across the world. The challenge was to fit the electronics of the scanner into a sleek, ergonomical design. So, we created foam models to test how it felt in the average user’s hands. Could thumbs easily touch the keypad and the touchscreen? How comfortable was the main scanning button? What about how the trigger finger fit? What angle and direction was best for the laser scanner?

new product development model

We took care to create for longevity, for example, designing a scanner button that could take the pressure of being used at high-volumes without failing or putting stress on the electronics.

Once we had an idea of what design would fit the electronics, while also being ergonomically safe and comfortable, we added style and shape with sketches on paper before progressing to CAD on-screen models.

product design handheld scanner

We didn’t let being on opposite sides of the earth stop us from having constant contact with our client. With a coffee in hand we’d Skype conference with the US team in our morning as they were heading out for the afternoon. In our afternoon we’d send them the latest design and while we were snug in our beds during their working day they’d print 3D models and give us feedback to implement immediately. This cycle of communication kept the design iteration process moving smoothly.

As a result of this collaborative approach we delivered an approved design within two weeks – hitting every deadline. When Dart was ready for manufacture we worked closely with the Chinese company, adding some of our expertise to the process and facilitating communication between the manufacturers and Datascan.

industrial design handheld computer

The outcome

A collaborative approach, seamless communication, sleek modern design, a product we’re proud of and a happy client. Datascan told us: “Your team’s creativity, flexibility, responsiveness and overall engagement with us has been fantastic and we want to thank you for that.” We love that feedback!

If you’d like to know more about the Formzoo product design process, or if you have a burning idea you want to see become reality contact us at mail@formzoodesign.com Let’s talk about it.


Posted on July 18, 2014 in Design, News, Products

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