Housewares Design Awards

2007 Best in Category: Home Organization, Laundry Care & Non-Electric Cleaning Products


Rectangular Sensor Can

In recent years, simplehuman has expanded its overall assortment beyond its line of upscale trashcans to include an array of fashion-forward, highly functional products such as dish drains and its new bath products debuting at the International Home & Housewares Show.

But as the company’s SKU count has grown, it has maintained its focus on developing new iterations of trashcans, which remains a core of its business. That continued focus was validated at the recent Housewares Design Awards, where simplehuman was named Best in Category in the Home Organization, Non-Electric Cleaning & Laundry Care category for its Rectangular Sensor Trash Can.

A key feature of the 38-liter/10-gallon step can is the foot-activated sensor located at the can’s base, allowing the lid to open without having to touch the can. Unlike hand-activated sensors, simplehuman officials said the exclusive sensor design avoids false triggers to keep the lid from opening accidentally, even in high traffic areas. A lid-hold button keeps the lid open for extended chores such as clearing the dishes.

In addition, the can’s drive system with smart linkage controls the opening and closing of the lid for smooth, quiet operation. Its built-in motion control prevents jerky lid movement and gives the lid a smooth open and close. A dampened drive system minimizes lid noise when opening and closing.

“While sales of [upscale] trash cans remain strong, it was time for us to look at sensor technology,” Frank Yang, simplehuman CEO, said of the development of the award winning sensor can. “We wanted to develop a better sensor can with no false triggers, but did not want to offer a product that could be perceived as a gimmick.”

During the developing of the new trashcan, Yang said the company studied many possible features, but felt it best to offer functions that did not complicate the product. “When looking back 10 years at the trash compactors, they were functional but ultimately were messy and difficult to clean. We wanted to avoid adding features that would create more work for the consumer.”

The development of the Sensor Can also led to the company changing its mindset about the category. “We treated the product more like a high-end appliance than a trash can,” Yang added. “We also had to find ways to improve the linkage and drive system that would not cause the battery to [rapidly] lose power.”

And with competition in the upscale trashcan business continuing to grow, Yang noted that simplehuman will maintain its focus on developing cutting edge products to stay ahead of its competitors.

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