Prime Cuts: In case of an emergency

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I wasn’t aware that anything like the National Preparedness Month existed. Well, we are in it (if you live in the US) and the timing is pretty apt with Hurricane Irene having recently ravaged its way through much of North America and it is of course also the 10th anniversary of September 11th.

Having an emergency supply kit in your home, car or workplace seems a very sensible thing. The American Red Cross obviously thinks so too and teamed up with outdoor electronics specialist Eton Corporation to create a new line of self-powered emergency products called the TurboDyne Series.

Launched earlier this year the three products in the series have already received a number of awards including the Red Dot 2011. Each product contains a powerful dynamo crank that powers emergency radio channels and a phone. Road Torq is a roadside emergency tripod with a very bright flashlight and emergency flasher. Axis and Rover are high power dynamo crank radios that integrate wideband, AM/FM/NOAA and mobile phone charger.

If there is one company that knows everything there is to know about hand-crank dynamos it is Eton. For 25 years the company has produced solar and dynamo powered products that span over the recreation, emergency and outdoors industries.

To create this TurboDyne series Eton once again turned to its long-term design partner Whipsaw, a product design and engineering firm located in Silicon Valley. The aim was to create the ultimate emergency electronic product line that provided users valuable assistance when they needed it most.


When working with Eton on the TurboDyne series, Whipsaw began with numerous pen and marker sketches that were reviewed and refined with the help of Eton’s product development personnel. “Because much of the technological components are known quantities prior to beginning the design and development of the Eton products, our designers often start the conceptualisation process with basic volumetric dimensional and feature information. This allows them to concentrate on producing some extremely dynamic forms that incorporate exquisite colour, material and finish details,” says Greg Aper, director at Whipsaw.

Foam models of the final design for each product were then constructed to address ergonomic and user interface concerns.

The designers then developed Rhino surface models of each design from which photorealistic 3D renderings were produced so that Eton could review the colour, material and finish options.

The surface models were then utilised to create quick SLA prototypes and appearance models for validation of every final detail of the designs. The prototypes were used to address ‘Design for Manufacturing’ concerns and ensure that the product concepts are viable.

Finally, the designers created cosmetic specification documentation for release to Eton and the selected manufacturers for final production and market release.

Dan Harden, Whipsaw’s design principal and one of the lead designers for the Eton products, had this to say about its latest project for Eton:

“The Eton TurboDyne products are meant to be more emotional and more appealing than the typical emergency tool so that people will want to own them and use them on a regular basis even when there is no emergency. Pride of ownership also means they will more likely be out and ready for use instead of being relegated to the basement or the emergency kit. Bold forms, expressive details and high contrast colours can express function and operation so clearly that it takes no thought to find and use the product – which is of course good in an emergency when you just can’t think.”

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