Every year, thousands of people—many of them elderly—sustain serious falls, some debilitating or even fatal. Early identification of fall-risk, along with recommendations for improving balance, can prevent these injuries and deaths. Unfortunately, clinically sound methods for early identification and treatment have traditionally been expensive or difficult to come by.
Zibrio Inc.’s latest product, the Zibrio SmartScale, is changing all of that. Produced in partnership with a global single-source product development firm, Pivot International, the Zibrio SmartScale is the first clinically proven balance scale of its kind. Deploying technology developed in the U.S. Space Program, seniors (or other balance-challenged users) can self-assess their risk of falling and receive customized recommendations to reduce this risk.
The Search for the Right Product Development Partner
Zibrio knew creating a winning product would require a successful partnership. In guiding its search for a partner, the firm first looked for three things:
- A partner with a proven track record that could guide the documentation and regulatory compliance process.
- A partner that could ensure a seamless process between design, engineering, and manufacturing.
- A partner that would work in a highly collaborative, hands-on fashion with Zibrio’s team to take their initial design from prototype to production.
With these reasons in mind, Zibrio chose Pivot. As a global single-source partner, Pivot was equipped to guide Zibrio’s compliance process and handle its product design and development, production, distribution, and supply chain needs. What’s more, since Pivot owns its own facilities and doesn’t outsource services, the company could assure Zibrio of complete visibility into its operations. This ensured clear communication, high levels of collaboration, quality control, timely production, and significant cost-savings over competitors.
Having selected Pivot as their partner, Pivot initiated due diligence, working closely with Zibrio to articulate a shared vision, documenting the entire product development process and mapping a clear path to a shared goal. High levels of remote collaboration were maintained throughout the process with weekly conference calls between the Pivot and Zibrio teams and a daily exchange of files, tests, and queries related to the project.
"It was a pleasure working with the Zibrio team, as they had a strong user-based knowledge of the functionality, environment, and marketplace needs associated with this type of product and its desired design. So often, clients do not have a vision of the true required functionality and/or environment in which it will truly operate, which leads to difficult outcomes. With their astute know-how, coupled with our background, it has resulted in a product that will have a great deal of success. Zibrio fully understood the commercial requirements as well, which greatly helped in the success of the product design. I feel both our teams collectively worked well together, elevating our greatest strengths,” said Mark Dohnalek, president and CEO of Pivot International.
The User Experience
Just because a product design looks beautiful on paper and performs flawlessly as a prototype doesn’t guarantee it will be a hit with consumers. While many industrial designers and product developers are exceptionally fluent in product functionality, they often lack a sufficient understanding of user experience (UX). This leads to the development of products (or to the addition of features) that may be functionally sound but fail to resonate with actual users.
For this reason, it was important to Zibrio to choose a product development partner that brought, not only functional design and engineering expertise, but also a keen understanding of UX.
“Pivot really respected our vision for the product,” explained Andrea Case-Rogers, Zibrio CXO. “Pivot could have tried to talk us out of features that a less experienced partner would have seen as superfluous; a lot of times, engineers don’t think about the look of the product, they only focus on functionality. But Pivot understood the importance of user experience and were committed to improving the design, where necessary, to better appeal to consumers.”
Optimizing Design for Supply Chain Challenges
Regardless of how well a product is designed, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s optimized for the supply chain and, therefore, scalable. Though Zibrio originally came to Pivot with a functional prototype, it was viable only for small volume production.
Working closely with Zibrio’s team, Pivot iteratively modified and refined Zibrio’s prototype for large-volume production, optimizing the design for supply chain challenges and delivering the right user experience at the right price.
The Outcome: An Award-Winning Product
CES—the Consumer Electronics Show—is an extravaganza of innovation that brings together the most prominent players in the consumer electronics space. With thousands of exhibitors and more than 100,000 attendees, it’s the premier industry trade show for showcasing the leading edge of product development.
With so many products competing for attention, only a handful truly stand out. And it’s these products that the Consumer Electronics Association selects for a CES Innovation Award.
For 2020, in partnership with Zibrio, Pivot International was honored with this prestigious award for its role in creating the Zibrio SmartScale, affirming Zibrio as an elite innovator in the consumer electronics space and Pivot as a premier partner for leading-edge electronics design, development, manufacturing, and supply-chain management.
Brandy George is a content strategist with Zen Media, an award-winning full-service digital marketing agency helping B2B brands succeed in the digital age.