Year: 2015
Editor: Guy Bingham, Darren Southee, John McCardle, Ahmed Kovacevic, Erik Bohemia, Brian Parkinson
Author: Carolina Gill (1), Blaine Lilly (2), Paul Reeder (3)
Series: E&PDE
Institution: 1The Ohio State University, Department of Design, 2The Ohio State University, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Office of Industry Liaison
Section: Collaboration
Page(s): 069-074
ISBN: 978-1-904670-62-9


A comprehensive study of early childhood injuries undertaken by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in 2010 revealed that the common household spray bottle was the most likely source of injury for young children under the age of five. Due to the size of their hands, small children typically point the spray nozzle directly at the eyes and mouth when attempting to actuate the trigger with both thumbs. Nationwide Children’s Hospital contacted The Ohio State University seeking help with a new trigger design that would effectively eliminate the spray bottle as a source of injury. A design and engineering team conducted additional human-centred research and found a range of alternative design opportunities that could reduce the number of injuries caused by household cleaners. The hospital team was interested in developing a solution to the design problem as they defined it. The design team, following the directive of the Hospital team, proceeded to design and prototype a successful two– stage-triggering mechanism that is currently going through the patent process in the USA. This design was tested and found to meet all the requirements set by the hospital’s design brief. Although the design of the mechanism was successful from a functional standpoint, it has not as yet been adopted by industry. This paper presents a critical case study of the process by which the re– designed trigger mechanism was created, paying special attention to the “framing” of the design problem and the limited understanding of market constraints faced by the hospital and design teams. We believe this case study represents a useful example of how addressing a compelling need through a good design solution translates to a commercially viable alternative in the market.

Keywords: Problem framing, design constraints, market constraints

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