Housewares Design Awards

2013 Best in Category: Home Organization, Laundry Care & Non-Electric Cleaning


Simplehuman Semi-Round Sensor Can

The simplehuman Semi-Round Sensor Can, the 2013 Housewares Design Awards Best in Category winner in the Home Organization, Laundry Care & Non-electric Cleaning category, features multi-sense technology, which is said to react and adapt to the user’s behavior, so it won’t open unexpectedly or close before the task is finished.

Frank Yang, simplehuman’s founder and CEO, said the Semi-Round Sensor Can personifies the brand’s tagline: tools for efficient living. Within the product development process, the company puts function first, as “it is the most important thing for the consumer,” he said.

“We design products that make people more efficient at home; we design products we love to use ourselves and would like to share with our friends,” he said. Yang added one design challenge is to establish functional details that make the product better that consumers won’t notice when they first see the product: “It makes our day when they notice these things we care about so much.” Yang wants consumers to intuitively use the product without being bogged down with thinking about the inherent technology.

When simplehuman designed this sensor can, it wasn’t aiming to design a better sensor can, but a better trash can, he said. For example, no one wants to touch a dirty trash can, and using the can gives consumers the added value of it being a touch free experience. If a consumer is clearing a plate over the can, it will sense the consumer is there and the lid will stay open. If the consumer walks away and walks back to use it, if it’s in the middle of closing, the lid will open back up instead of finishing its closing process. The opening of the lid also slightly slows down as it gets to the top, so as not to startle the consumer. “We just want it to be smooth and comfortable and natural,” he said.

Consumers also hate to change batteries, said Yang. The battery life of the sensor mechanism is also one year, and when the user needs to change them, they are easily accessible.

From an aesthetics standpoint, the design is minimal, and meant to match today’s modern kitchens, he said. The can features a space saving design, in that it has a flat back so that it can go flush against a wall or kitchen island, for example. It also features the brand’s proprietary fingerprint proof finish designed in-house; it protects the fine grooves from oil from the user’s hands.

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