March 10, 2012

What the heck has been going on with Jellypods?

Posted in CAD/CAM, China, Design, Luggage, Materials, Production at 5:20 pm by Kilo

So you are probably wondering what the heck has been going on with Jellypods, right? Well, despite the long radio silence there has been progress.

We are now on prototype IV, with new zipper designs, rails and materials.

Here’s a shot of the new zipper slider:

The new zipper solves many of the issues we saw in the earlier prototypes and also contains a couple of really unique features in the design – they won’t be obvious form this angle as they are internal, but they are quite cool from a technical standpoint.

It’s taken a while to get to this stage, but we are finally making some progress towards a working zipper and a Jellypod that does what we want. The drawings have been sent to Guangzhuo for the next production steps, hopefully a new update will be available soon – keep watching!

Advertisements

August 2, 2011

Jellypods Zipper Mk III

Posted in Design, Factory, Frequent Flyer, Materials, Modelling, Production, Prototyping at 8:33 pm by Kilo

Now that we have identified the strength and weaknesses (literally) of the revised zipper design, it’s time to move forward with what will hopefully be the final design, barring a few small amendments for fit and finish.

The new design seems to be much simpler, and more elegant, and also hopefully includes a couple of rather neat little innovations we’ve never seen anywhere else before on a ziplock bag or similar.

We’ve also taken this opportunity to adjust some things on the bagitself, such as the thickness of the skin and the length of the internal ribs.

Right now the design is back with our friends in Wisconsin, Veritas Forge, for a quick makeover from hand drawn rough technical sketches to full 3D CAD velvet.

More soon!

 

July 22, 2011

New Jellypods website design

Posted in Design, Frequent Flyer, Fun stuff, Luggage, Marketing, Packaging, Web at 10:56 am by Kilo

As we slowly, slowly move forward with the Jellypods product, various other bits of collateral are keeping pace and one of the most critical is the Jellypods website.

We already have one website design in hand, but we have worked with some old friends to create a new look and feel – a little bit more energetic and lively, perhaps.

Here are a couple of the very rough designs, as mockups without text or final graphics:-

The idea is to highlight both the transparency and coloration of the Jellypods in the way they are presented on the website, and to highlight some nice videos of Jellypods in action. The colour of the site will change as you select a different Jellypods colour. Do you like this?

Meanwhile we move forward with new CAD of the revised zipper design – more next week…

July 3, 2011

Jellypods Zipper Mk II/III under way

Posted in CAD/CAM, Design, Materials, Modelling, Prototyping, Uncategorized at 4:52 pm by Kilo

It has been a pretty quiet few weeks on the Jellypods blog, but behind the scenes there is lots of work going on to fix the zipper issues we discovered in the first prototypes revealed in the last few blog posts from the China trip.

Below you can see a shot of the first zipper molded in hard silicone, which was very bulky, unwieldy and despite looking good in CAD, did not work at all.

So after a few days of hard thinking, we went back  to an original concept from a few months back and our friends in China molded a protoype of that old deisgn to see if some new ideas and materials would work in practise.

The Mark II zipper has been moulded in a special mix of hard plastics and other special materials, and bonded to a rough of the top of a Jellypods body. This zipper was never really expected to work fully functionally, it was what Formula One teams call a “mule” – a development half-breed between a racehorse and a donkey:

Although never expected to be brought to life in final form, this mule gives us is enough solid information to move forward with the Mk III zipper, which will hopefully be a big step forward and close-to-final.

And the sketches for that design, which were worked up in a notebook  on an airplane flying between Sydney and San Francisco, are already sent to our partners for working up in to CAD and moving forward to the next steps.

Check out the next blog for more details!

April 17, 2011

Flying with a real Jellypod

Posted in Airlines, CAD/CAM, China, Design, Factory, Frequent Flyer, Luggage, Materials, Production, Security at 1:09 pm by Kilo

It’s been a  bit of a round-a-bout trip to get back, via Singapore and Mumbai over the past week or so, but we managed to get some great snaps of Jellypods in their natural setting –  going through x-ray machines, on board airplanes and arriving at the terminal:

This is the x-ray in Hong Kong airport.

A very welcome business class upgrade using a big pile of airmiles.

Arrival in Munich!

As you can see from the photos, the Jellypod is still a bit too cloudy to be fully functional – that will be fixed as we move to the production grade, high polished forms.

But it was nice to travel with the Jellypod, and it was pointed out to me this prototype was probably one of the most expensive bits of luggage ever flown!

April 7, 2011

The world’s first Jellypods

Posted in CAD/CAM, China, Design, Factory, Hong Kong, Materials, Production tagged , at 5:07 pm by Kilo

It’s been a very busy 48 hours that started with a long train journey into the heart of China’s industrial hinterland near Guangzhou.

But what awaited us was worth the wait: the first Jellypods on the planet.

The world's first Jellypods prototype

The world's first Jellypods prototype

These are pre-production prototypes, so they are not yet ready to be used properly – the moulds are not polished, the seams are unfinished, the thickness of the walls is a bit on the fat side, the transparency and colour shading is very rough and not ready for the stringent checks at an airport x-ray machine, and the product itself has several flaws in the design we still need to work on. But still it is a massive step forward and you can see the huge grin of delight in holding that puppy for the first time!

We knew most of these issues were going to be present, along with a few unknown unknowns, as Donald Rumsfeld called them; it’s almost impossible to know if a product like this will work right off the press or not, and we expected some re-work and problem solving. Below you can see the team discussing one of the major issues and trying out a few ideas right out on the factor floor, and it is worth saying that the production and operations people at our partners have been really fantastic, spending a lot of time with us discussing options and suggesting alternatives and possibilities.

Brainstorming on the shop floor

What was really very nice after all this time was to be able to actually see the production process, step-by-step, and really visualize some of the core issues in what we are trying to do with Jellypods from a manufacturing standpoint. Yes, it’s a cool little silicone bag, and you’d think that would be easy to make. But our partners, who showed us some really quite amazingly complicated medical silicone products, are really stretching to find a way to make this thing – it’s not even close to being easy. 

The Jellypods body mould

But despite this issues, which we are confident we will resolve in fairly short order, it was very satisfying to finally hold a complete Mk 1 Jellypod in the hand, and feel that thing for real for the first time. It was a real feeling of success to finally have this prototype in silicone in our hands to squeeze and stretch. 

A row of Jellypods bodies literally hot off the presses

So what are the issues we have to solve?

Well, some are major, and some are minor. On the minor side, as you can see, these Jellypods are quite cloudy and nowhere near transparent enough for the security screening process – that is mainly due to the un-polished mould being used in the prototyping process, but it will not be an issue in final production. The coloration is also an experimental stage, with too much pigment, but it gives an idea of the shape of Jellypods. And we realized we had over-engineered the thickness in several areas, adding too much weight, making the product more expensive than it needs to be, and less elegant than it will be in the final version.

Jellypods Mk 1, with and without the curvy zipper attached

One of the largest issues is the zipper section. It’s a novel design that uses a harder grade of silicone, and to be perfectly honest we need to go back to the drawing board to make it work right, because right now it doesn’t do what we want it to do. But we have a cunning plan to fix it, and that plan is already being put into action.
  
The next steps are to refine the design and troubleshoot the key issues we discovered, then take Jellypods forward to the Mk 2 version – high gloss, polished, fully functional, lighter weight, ready for shipping.
 
But we took some major steps forward in the past couple of long days, and overall we are very happy with the progress and professionalism of our partners.

March 20, 2011

Filing registered designs for Jellypods

Posted in Design, Frequent Flyer, News, Registered Designs, Trademarks, Uncategorized at 9:13 am by Kilo

This week we spent a little money (about $500) on registering the core design of Jellypods with a European Registered Community Design, also known as an RCD.

This registration, which was granted in just 3 days and is now in force, covers the look and feel of the design in 27 European countries with just one application.

A similar, but slightly more involved process existing in the USA and other major markets, and those are also in progress right now. This is a fairly simple thing to do; all you need are some good sketches of the product from a range of angles.

We’ve written before about how these kinds of simple protections, which are much simpler than utility patents, can help defend the value being created by a novel design. Another good example is the Poachpod by Fusionbrands, who have successfully defended their designs against knockoffs both in the UK and USA. It’s encouraging that these protections can be granted very rapidly, as a real utility patent can take years to be granted, leaving an inventor at the mercy of copycats.

What is fascinating about the Jellypods story is the range of new things we are learning from day to day, with the trademarking and design registration process being just one example.

March 12, 2011

First trial runs of Jellypods on the moulds

Posted in CAD/CAM, Design, Frequent Flyer, Materials, Production, Prototyping at 12:03 pm by Kilo

Exciting news from the factory floor – the first trials of the Jellypods moulds are under way and we have the very first picture of an actual Jellypod!

Below you can see a teaser shot of the very first real, live Jellypods prototype being stripped from the test mould:

How cool is that?

The colour looks quite shiny due to the high transparency of the material of the pod – that shine is the P20 mould tool steel shining through the skin of the Jellypod – and already you can see just how flexible the skin of the Jellypod is.

Already we are seeing some minor challenges in the production process, but nothing that will stop the show.

Getting to this point is a very major step for us, and hopeful in 3 weeks time we’ll be be sitting in a pile of the very first batch of these little products! Stay tuned to have the chance of being a lucky beta tester soon!

February 26, 2011

Building a better bag

Posted in Airlines, Business model, Competition, Design, Frequent Flyer, Luggage, Strategy at 3:07 pm by Kilo

When we started researching the market for Jellypods, we discovered pretty rapidly that most of the offers available to the frequent traveller today provided solutions that focused on other aspects of the problem. As we went through the process of refining our own product (using the ERIC framework outlined in last week’s blog), we realized that we had ways to be very highly differentiated.

For example, many existing offers use a PVC vinyl bag with a metal zipper that will deteriorate over time and is certainly not 100% waterproof. In other cases the bags themselves were secondary to the main offer – special bottles to hold liquids.

Many of these limitations are enforced due to the use of off-the-shelf bags or bottles that have been re-purposed as travelling bags.

But because Jellypods was designed from a literally blank sheet of paper, we were able to make some deliberate choices during the design process to use more sophisticated raw materials that give Jellypods many advantages.

As examples, we were able to make Jellypods very strong, but still stretchy to accommodate slightly odd shapes; we could embed anti-bacterial agents in the specially-formulated silicone gel; we were able to invent a unique closure mechanism that is both waterproof and doubly-secure; and we were able to use more complex manufacturing processes such as extrusion and liquid injection molding, allowing us to create a something at another level of quality and precision. In all, a Jellypod that will last a lot longer and be more effective in dozens of ways.

Those choices mean that Jellypods are somewhat more expensive to make, but we think that the benefits delivered are well worth the extra cost, and we hope that those choices will make Jellypods stand out and that potential customers will recognize they are getting better value for their money –  a real piece of personal luggage that will last much longer, survive the toughest handling, that can be cleaned really easily and that will protect the traveller from disease and spillage.

Not bad for a funny little bag!

February 20, 2011

Sizing up the competition

Posted in Airlines, Blue Ocean, Business model, Design, Frequent Flyer, Luggage, Marketing, Materials, Strategy at 12:36 pm by Kilo

When we first started to investigate the market for carry-on liquid bags, we bumped into dozens of alternatives to the simple plastic bag out there in the marketplace.

Some producers took a high road, positioning (and pricing) themselves in the upper reaches, some positioned and priced to get volume. It was interesting to follow the PR efforts of the various positions: some pitching at high end fashion magazines, others pitching at the savvy backpacker.

What we quickly realized is that despite the intended price-based positioning, these various offers were competing on the same basic characteristics. Typically these bags all featured the same basic design: low cost metal/plastic zippers, inexpensive clear plastic sides, a lack of waterproofness, some 100ml bottles, little or no hygiene, and a few minor styling cues.

We saw that with the fundamental concept and design of Jellypods we had a chance to completely innovate the category, changing the rules by which the game was played. We used a couple of techniques such as the ERIC framework (Eliminate, Reduce, Increase, Create) to figure out which elements we would get rid of entirely e.g. metal zippers, and which we would introduce for the first time such as silicone materials; which were expensive additions that added little value such as the plastic bottles, and which areas were under-emphasized such as hygiene.

The result was a completely new product category for Jellypods, one in which certain core themes in most other products are completely removed, and several new attributes are introduced for the first time. We’ve been able to generate something that looks unique and behaves in a way that lifts it above the level of the rest of the market. If this ultimately does turn out to be a success, that basic thinking about product attributes is likely to be a large part of the reason why.

Next page