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Rider Centric Design Thinking

Rider Centric Design Thinking

Design at BluArmor stems from one primary source of inspiration. The rider. Everything we do in the product development cycle originates and revolves around the motorcycle rider, the most important stakeholder in our ecosystem.

Who is s/he?  How can we talk to enough of them? Can we understand their pain-points? What does s/he find most lacking? How can we look at them from all possible dimensions and then go about finding the most elegant and user-friendly solution we can design and build for their needs.

This seems logical and just plain obvious as an approach, but it’s not as easy as it seems. It takes many aspects (process and disciplines) to come together before a simple idea can actually become a concept that can be experienced and validated in the open market.

Any company that is building a new product in a new category lives or dies by its ability to discover customers. The best way to discover customers is to give them something to try out and listen to their reactions. These reactions generate feedback and insight that can be listed and prioritized. This then loops back into the next design iteration cycle where the whole process repeats. You are possibly wondering, “How does a team have the confidence to build a new product in a new category where there is no benchmark, no competition, and no awareness even?” Well, you are not alone!

At a high level, it stems from a belief that there lies an optimum solution that straddles the twin (and usually, competing) requirements of desirability and affordability. The path to getting there is littered with rapid prototypes that allow the design to fail and learn as quickly as possible (with emphasis on learning) interspersed with formal product releases that allow the larger rider universe (and the market) to engage with various generations of “finished” product. In this blog, we will focus on some of our key innovations on this journey so far and shine light on an approach that we believe will continue to drive us into the future. 

 Designing in loops

The first generation of BluArmor’s cooling product, BluSnap, was an alpha discovery model that we put out there to see how the world of motorcycling accepted this seemingly bizarre thought of strapping a little box with a battery and a fan to the front of the helmet. It was big, it was not great to look at (though there were some fans of Darth Vader and Bane who did seem to dig it), but it did one thing. It caught the attention of the people. Hot stuffy helmets are a global problem it seems. The news of this novel solution quickly became something of a buzz - it was picked up by several large news agencies and our story started to spread worldwide. This gave us - a little startup with our first idea - international distributors who were willing to join us. Wow, this was really happening! 

This was terrific, it meant that the problem was understood easily across the world, and it gave us the confidence that a market existed for BluSnap. With the end of the first summer season, we had already sold enough units to reach the trendsetters, the early adopters. We received lots of positive feedback and feedback on what they thought could be made better. 

So what were they? The first and most wanted feature in any product category. Give me more power! Yes, we all want that and we had to make that happen. So we managed to get a better fan and use that to find a better way to make that fan deliver its goods. A fully re-designed idea of how the fan interacts with the filters. 

“We want it slimmer!”, said the users. The next most wanted request in any category (except maybe burger patties) So yes! We will do that too. Relook at all of the parts, and see if we could re-engineer how they come together in a slimmer form.

These two primary needs, like opposing sides of a vice, crushed the framework of the solution into a tighter box. And what came of it are the following breakthroughs.

An all-new cartridge

The new cartridge had to meet the following criteria - hold more water (a faster fan/more cooling means a higher evaporation rate), have a geometry that’s optimized for the fan’s flow and be easy for the user to remove and snap back in place.

Cartridge mount for Blu3 E20

We have achieved this by integrating the locking mechanism into the “buckle” for our chin-mount making it extremely easy for riders to detach/attach the cartridge. A gentle gradient ensures minimal resistance to air-flow so riders can get the most performance for a given power. The front-fascia has been built around the bare shell of the fan to make it sleeker - the “boxy” look has been replaced with a translucent “armor” front-face that screams style!

A stronger more adaptive chin mount. 

The chin-mount design has been a simple yet clever design direction to take for us, particularly since it is compatible with popular action cams. We thought about how we could make it even better. Helmets come in so many different shapes, and the chin-bar specifically, is subject to a lot of variations. So how do we make a solution that works for practically every such variant? We took a closer look at our hands, specially our fingers. The inspiration with a little fingering (pun intended) led to the introduction of a split to the arms of the mount. The result is a far more flexible structure that the user can now take advantage of while sticking the mount onto complex curved surfaces. 

Adaptive Chinmount

Vector control with a new vent. 

Getting the cool air into the helmet is important, but the real story is being able to focus where the flow should go. We learned that faces and helmets and the resulting intra helmet space are subject to a lot of variations. We had to give the user the ability to tune and adjust the flow. So we designed a vent that can extend and deflect the air by the right amount. It’s a simple little idea, but one that we feel will make the most amount of impact on the comfort of the user. This vent is also backward compatible with our previous generation so a BluSnap2 customer can also benefit from this new update. (Yes, we don’t forget our well wishers :) )  


Vector control

Programmable cooling

Riders can tune the fan speed/cooling level with BLU3 E20. Depending on the traffic situation and the city they reside in, riders can set the cooling level to “Regular”, “Turbo” or “Beast” mode. The “Beast” mode gives 2X the airflow as our previous generation product.

A Large, easy to locate, Click-Surface. No buttons! 

Yes, this is the most important of all innovations. A user-interface that behaves like a clickable mouse-surface. It opens the door to a host of new possibilities. Our solution is now powered by a clever programming approach that is context-aware allowing us to do something that is truly game-changing. Get rid of multiple tiny buttons and replace them with one large, easy to use, context-aware click surface. 

BLU3 E20 is powered by a number of key technology IPs, and blends the best of mechanical, industrial, embedded electronics and software design to offer unparalleled comfort to two-wheeler riders.

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