Housewares Design Awards

2006 Best in Category: Personal Care/Health Care and Garment Care Electrics

Oliso, Inc.

Touch & Glide Iron

The Oliso Touch & Glide iron represents one of the most significant design innovation in irons in the past 60 years, according to the company that created it.

The Oliso Touch & Glide features technology that virtually eliminates the need to lift the iron or set it up on its end. This is done via an auto-lift system that utilizes a microprocessor in the handle to sense the user’s touch, and raise and lower the iron accordingly.

The design of this product stemmed from an adaptation of the Stamford product design program.

“This process starts with finding needs and coupling that with invention to produce innovative products,” said Oliso President/CEO Ehsan Alipour.

After choosing a product category significant for an absence of sales-driving innovation, Alipour began to immerse himself in consumer research regarding irons. This basically consisted of watching people use an iron and asking them questions about the experience.

“You become one with them,” he said. “You use the iron yourself.”

Once enough data is obtained, it is then carefully sifted.

“You have to gain insights into the user’s behavior. They won’t tell you; you have to decipher it,” Alipour added.

One glaring insight that came to Alipour had to do with the act of picking the iron up, lowering it to the fabric, picking it up again and then setting it down on its end.

The process exposes the user to danger, Alipour noted. “The iron is heavy and unstable, the hot soleplate is exposed. People are afraid to iron around kids.”

This got Alipour thinking. “What if we could eliminate that stuff – the beginning and end of the ironing process, which serves no function whatsoever.”

The next step was to design a solution that eliminated the need to raise and lower the iron.

With the Touch & Glide, “you don’t have to pick the iron up or lower it or after each pass. The ‘smart legs’ are touch activated.”

In terms of the actual look of the Touch & Glide, “we wanted it to be an emotionally pleasant. We wanted a soft look that could communicate the robustness of engineering and technology inside.”

Oliso sought to add a visual cue to the iron’s very appearance that indicated the presence of smart legs, Alipour said.

“We tied the skirt in with the legs in order to establish a language that there is more to the soleplate than meets the eye.”

An even more radical version of the product is in development. “I feel that this is for us is the transition product,” Alipour said.

“The iron could eventually look like a computer mouse. An iron does not have to have the shape of an iron as we know it.”

But for now, consumers are not ready for such a radical departure from an iconic product that has been in their home for decades.

“On purpose we maintained some of the existing iconic features of an iron. You can still set it up on its end. This is because the habits are so strong. But two years down the line, you won’t see this design.”

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