EasyTail is an intuitive condom applicator that reduces improper condom usage while making the experience of applying a condom, a safer and friendlier user experience.
Mathieu Turpault, Director of Design
David Schiff, Director of Engineering
Ben Hughes: It’s far too complicated and off-putting from a user point of view, and dubious from a sustainability angle, but I like it in the context of this competition category. The identification of the problem is quite clear, and there’s some research that they’ve followed to its conclusion. Tewa Srilakland: It doesn’t seem easy to use, but it brings awareness to an issue through design, so why not? Design can sometimes be nonfunctional. Ou Ning: It’s not good as a product, but it’s funny. It’s a little like chindogu [useless gadget] design from Japan, which makes it interesting to me.
1. Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the challenge posed to you? Did it get you excited and why?
Our clients approached us to design a product that would minimize improper condom usage and increase safe sex practices. Improper condom usage such as flipping the condom occurs when users attempt to put on condom but realize they have placed it on the wrong side. They then proceed to flip the condom to the correct side, soiling the condom with bodily fluids; which can lead to the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases. Our challenge was to implement design a solution for both the product and its packaging, as well as engineer it for production. Our goal was to create a user friendly product, that was easy to open, easy to use, and reduces instances of STDs when practicing safe sex and using a condom.
2. What point of view did you bring to the challenge? Was there anything additional that you wanted to achieve with this project or bring to this project that was not part of the original brief?
The main concerns of our client were to create a device that properly identified the topside of the condom for application, had an easy package opening, and took less than two seconds to put on whether the penis was fully erect or half-erect. Through our testing and evaluation, we wanted to make sure that the device was convenient and user friendly. We wanted to approach this from an ergonomics point of view. Solutions using two hands already existed in limited distribution and it appeared important to us that the new design offered the added benefit of being a one hand application. Design efforts focused on a single hand application which led to easier and faster application.
Condoms are more often than not, carried in a pocket. If the device was inconvenient to carry, creating additional user frustration, it wouldn’t be used. We wanted to make sure our design took that into consideration. In addition to making the “right side” identifiable, we observed that hand position and touch point travel and feature sizes needed to be addressed to provide an easier experience.
3. When designing this project, whose interests did you consider? (Discuss various stakeholders, audiences, retailing, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, etc., for example.)
In redesigning the applicator, we considered the user and our client. We wanted to design a product that was easy and safe to use. We researched various packaging methods, we wanted to create a package that was easy to open, durable, and “pocket-friendly.” For the actual device, we wanted to make sure orientation was intuitive to the user through tactile feedback and that application and force were easy and prevented tears to the condom. We also considered both men and women in our user groups. Even though this product is a male condom, application can be handled in a variety of ways. So our research drove our design efforts to create a device for either self application or application to a partner.
In addressing these user concerns, we were able to take into consideration and meet the client’s interests and expectations. Our user centered design allowed the client to receive a product that was marketable, usable and socially conscientious. We also did extensive iterations to ensure that the product was able to be manufactured at the client’s intended price point.
4. Describe the rigor that informed your design. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) If this was a strictly research or strategy project, please provide more detail here.
Endless hours of safe sex in the office, no but seriously, our design was informed mainly by human factors research and extensive user testing. Improper condom usage is mainly caused by poor human factors, from wrong application to frustrations with usage. Through countless user interviews, focus groups, client research and documented health reports from various medical review boards, we concluded a variety of recommendations that drove our design and prototype review process.
5. What is the social value of your design? (Gladdening, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, labor-mindful, environmental, cultural, etc.) How does it earn its keep in the world?
Socially, the value of this product lends itself to the increase of society’s health and the decrease of infections. Condoms are often thought of as troublesome, which leads to “killing the mood,” so more often than not, users tend to forgo their usage. If you make the application of a condom less of a hassle, easier to use, and possibly interesting, people will be more likely to use condoms and less likely to have unprotected sex. As the rate of AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases increases, and with the lack of access to health care for some, this device could ultimately be a life saver.
6. If you could have done one thing differently with the project, what would you have changed?
The client asked us to engineer this product with a “do not exceed” cost for manufacturing. If we could have done it differently, we would have engineered the product to be the best product possible regardless of price. In the same regard, as this product could do so much good, if we could have been able to design a product that was meant to be given away, that would have been an even better challenge.