The 20-Volt USB-C

Can one USB port or connector be used to charge everything? Since the introduction of the USB-C or USB Type-C back in 2014, this question is no longer theoretical. This new rounded connector is here to replace the common rectangular-shaped Type-A connectors found on most consumer gadgets on the market.

The technology is gaining a lot of ground, but many people are still in the dark on what it is and what advantages it offers consumers. This is odd since it is found in a majority of the laptops, phone and tablets that are manufactured these days. It seems the days of relying on Micro USB and USB type-A as the dominant ports and connectors are slowly coming to end.

What is the 20-Volt USB-C?

To put it simply, the 20-volt USB-C is a USB type (not to be confused with standard or specification) with an oblong-shaped connector or port designed to connect and charge all devices. It is capable of producing 20 volts and 5 watts, allowing it to deliver 100 watts (when using the USB 3.1 standard). This is one of the biggest selling points of the technology that has manufacturers of consumer gadgets excited to adopt it.

What You Need to Know About the 12-Volt USB-C

The technology is capable of insane data transfer speeds. Due to the USB-C’s support for USB 3.1 and 3.2 standards, it can manage data transfer rates of 10-20 gigabytes, as well as significantly higher bandwidths. Now no one has to wait minutes to transfer large files – the transfer will happen in seconds.

Another big advantage is its small size. Manufacturers can now make their gadgets more compact. For example, with thinner USB ports, laptop manufacturers can make ultra-thin laptops. In fact, this is more evident with the thinner MacBooks that have been rolled out by Apple since they started putting the technology in its laptops.

Thanks to its oblong shape, the USB-C is easier to connect. How many times has anyone of us tried to connect a USB without looking, only to find that we are connecting it upside-down? Too many times. This has been the cause for many frustrations, and the USB-C eliminates that.

Since the 20 volts and 5 watts enable it to deliver 100 watts (20 multiplied by 5) of power, the USB-C type can be used to charge any device. Think about it: you have one charger that can be used to charge anything, whether it is a phone or power tool. Furthermore, this also has the added advantage of significantly speeding up charge times – this is better than the 5 volts and 1.8 amps (9 watts) of the previous type.

Current Major Challenges of the 12-Volt USB

Despite the advantages the technology offers, there are still a few kinks to work out.

One of them is how to safely charge phones with 20 volts coursing through the USB cable instead of the 5 volts they are used to. This can potentially cause the phone to overheat due to the high voltage, damaging the battery in the process. If the phone keeps overheating, it could become unusable.

Another challenge is allowing the 5 amps of current to pass through power bricks without needing them to be bulky. One way to do this is by increasing the internal diameter of the wiring so it can handle the increased current without increasing its size.

The 20-volt USB-C is here, and its advantages are too good to pass up, especially the ability to charge every device, fast charge and transfer data at lightning speeds. There is no denying there are some issues to work out, but the technology can only get better with time.

Development of ICE vs Modern Electric Devices

The debate over burning fossil fuels is something that gets more heated each and every year. The main source of contestation is that this type of fuel is non-renewable, meaning one day we will eventually run out. But with so many devices using an internal combustion engine (ICE), which need fossil fuels to run, is there an alternative that uses a renewable source of energy? The answer is yes.

The modern electric motor (MEM) is gaining popularity as an alternative to the ICE. The main selling point is that they use a renewable source of energy: electricity. While ICEs burn up fossil fuels to create heat, which they then use to make mechanical energy, MEMs use electricity to the same effect. Other than that, can we also say they are better in other areas than ICEs?

ICEs vs MEMs Devices

Now that we briefly know the basic principle behind how each of these devices works, we can differentiate them. By looking at the difference, it will be clear to see which one is better for both manufacturers to develop and/or put in their devices for consumers to use. For a good comparison, we are going to look at one common use of ICEs and MEMs: vehicles.

Technology. ICEs have a lot of moving parts (they reach in the hundreds) and they require supporting systems, such as a cooling system (radiator), lubrication system and gear transmission system. This means manufacturing them is complicated and hard. On the other hand, MEMs have a couple of moving parts and can operate with none of these supporting systems. This means a vehicle made from MEMs (electric vehicles) are easier to manufacture.

Maintenance. Since MEMs are less complex than ICEs, maintaining them is much easier as well. Due to the sheer amount of moving parts in ICEs, these devices are much more vulnerable to faults, hence they require more maintenance compared to MEMs. This means electric vehicles are easier and cheaper to maintain.

Noise. Due to the internal combustion taking place and the firing of the cylinder’s pistons, ICE’s produce a lot of noise. This is the sound of hundreds of mechanical parts rubbing against each other. With MEMs, the highest noise that can be heard is the whining sound that the pulse width modulation (PWM) driver, located on the control circuitry of the motor, makes as it switches frequencies.

Refuelling. Refuelling of ICEs is usually much faster since all you have to do is fill up the tank of the vehicle. On the other hand, charging an electric vehicle takes time, which is not ideal when one is in a rush or when there is a blackout and the battery needs charging.

Range. These days, modern vehicles can travel up to 644 km (400 miles) on a full tank of gas. This is significantly better than electric cars, which have been known to go up to 322 km (200 miles) before they need to be recharged.

Environment. MEMs are much better for the environment than ICEs since the cause less pollution. This makes them better for companies that are trying to spearhead the green initiative. In fact, MEMs account for 15 percent of the pollution because lithium-ion batteries are not being disposed of properly. On the other hand, the emission of greenhouse gasses from vehicles is responsible for 50-90 percent of air pollution in urban areas.

While each device has its advantages and disadvantages, modern electric motors are the future while internal combustion engines will become less sustainable in the long run as we deplete fossils fuels. This is a big point to consider for companies still manufacturing devices that use ICEs. Rather than concentrate on a dying technology, it is better to switch to MEMs and work towards making them more efficient.

Product Idea Criteria

When it is time to start a product development project, you will probably come up with a couple of ideas. Not all of them will be great ideas, which is expected when you are trying to bring innovative products on the market. This means it leaves you with one question of which idea out of the bunch to put into production.

This is not an easy decision to make. As we all know, not all products that are launched become successful. And a majority of product ideas that people dream up never grace the market with their presence. If you were to take the thousands of product ideas in existence right now, you will probably find that only one of them became successful.

What is it that made that one product better than the others? As any brilliant innovator will tell you, you need to have criteria that can filter the good ideas from the bad ones. With that said, here are a few things you need to consider when choosing a product idea.

Utility

You can’t launch a product on the market if there is no need for it. Consumers only buy products that they need or want because they find that it offers them some sort of utility. Without that, you basically have no demand for your product. It would then be pointless to develop a product no one wants to buy at the end of the day.

Uniqueness

Competition will always be there in any market – it is just a constant in the business world. This means if you release a product that is a carbon copy of what your competitors are offering, you significantly decrease the chances of people choosing yours over theirs. To make your product idea stand out, it needs to be unique. If you can make a product that doesn’t directly compete with others, the better chance of survival it has.

Usability

People like products that are easy to use. This means the learning curve to bring the utility out of it should not be steep. A good principle would be to take away the complexity from the user’s end and work on something that is user-friendly. No one can appreciate the utility of something they can’t use all that well.

Appeal

If your product can fulfil the practical need of your target consumers, then it can easily become appealing to them. But that is not all there is to it; some people are also looking for something that fulfills their needs on an emotional level. By making sure your product idea is emotionally appealing as well, you can enhance its utility.

Feasibility

Products that are complex can be hard to develop – not to mention costly to manufacture. Basically, this can happen when too many custom components are used or if the product spends a long time in development. The best option would be to take the product idea and conduct a feasibility study to make sure undertaking such a product development project is practical.

Profitability

Sometimes, you can have competing ideas, but not all of them can bring in the same amount of revenue. It makes sense from a business perspective to choose a product idea that is the most lucrative. Although this may not be easy to do, it is something that can literally pay off in the end.

Scalability

If there is one thing that will happen over the course of time is that the needs of consumers will change. What they found useful today might be obsolete tomorrow – that is just how consumer behaviour works. This is why you need to pick a product idea that is scalable. That is to say that if the users start demanding more from your product, you can increase its capabilities to meet their demand.

With the above criteria in mind, you can significantly increase the chances of turning your next product idea into a success story. Product ideas are plenty, but not all of them have the same chances of taking the market by storm. By doing a thorough analysis, you can make sure you select a winning idea.

Modern Electric vs Conventional Devices

In these modern times, brushed motors found in conventional devices are becoming a bit of an anachronism. What used to be in every device, such as power tools (drills, hammers and saws), fridges, cooling fans, computer hard drives and electric vehicles, has been replaced by something more modern called brushless motors. This has allowed manufacturers to produce and consumers to enjoy what is known as modern electric devices.

Now the world is singing the praises of modern electric devices over conventional ones. But which devices are better? Let us look at the differences in performance, size and cost between modern electric and conventional devices.

Performance

Due to their brushless motors, modern electric devices are more efficient than conventional devices. Brushed motors require brushes, commutators and connections to deliver power to the rotor, the component on the motor shaft that causes the motor to spin, while brushless motors get their power delivered directly to the rotor using some type of control circuitry, eliminating the need for brushes.

The first boost in performance comes from the lack of brushes. Brushes are what deliver the current to the commutator contacts of the rotor. When this happens, some of the current is lost to heat. Since the power goes straight to the rotor in a brushless motor, no power is lost, making it more efficient than brushed motors. This also means it takes less juice to power a modern electric device compared to a conventional device.

The control circuitry found on brushless motors gives modern electric devices the ability to automatically control speed/torque. This is thanks to the sensors that are located on the control circuit, allowing it to detect the amount of stress the electric device is going through. If it is under a lot of stress, the motor will spin furiously, and when there is less stress, the motor of the modern electric will spin less.

Size

When contrasted with brushed motors, brushless motors are smaller in size. This means they allow manufacturers to make compact devices without sacrificing speed and performance. This means an electric saw made from a brushed motor would be bigger in size compared to one made with a brushless motor. As you can imagine, a compact electric saw would be easier to handle and take less power (not to mention it would be much more powerful due to the brushless motor). Not only that, brushless motors allow manufacturers to produce mini versions of popular consumer gadgets as well.

Cost

Perhaps this is one area where brushed motors have a slight advantage – the fact that they cost less. Because of their control circuitry, brushless motors have a higher initial cost, which they more than make up for in efficiency and durability (no brushes to wear down).

As you can see, brushless motors have ushered in a new generation of modern electric devices that are compact in size and offer better performance. Compared to conventional devices with brushed motors, the praise modern electric devices are getting is well deserved, despite the fact that they cost more. Modern electric devices are taking over, and many manufactures, as well as consumers, have wised up to their benefits and are not looking back.

Modern Electric Motors

Over the years, modern electric motors, also known as brushed motors have increased in popularity. Today, you will find them in a lot of electronic devices, such as cordless power tools, that are used in a variety of home and industrial applications. It seems that many manufacturers of electronic devices are jumping on the brushless motor bandwagon. So what is a brushed motor, and what advantages does it offer?

What is a Brushless Motor?

To understand what a brushless motor is, we have to take a brief look at what they evolved from, which is brushed motors.

Basically, a brushed motor contains carbon brushes that transfer current coming from a power source (battery or power outlet) to commutator contacts located on the motor’s shaft. Now, the shaft contains a spinning armature/rotor inside of it and two permanently installed magnets on the outside. When the electric current reaches the armature, the electromagnet inside of it generates a magnetic field that repels the magnets, causing the motor to spin.

A brushless motor removes the carbon brushes and the commutator contacts from this setup. At this point, you might be asking yourself how power even reaches the armature when there are no brushes and commutator contacts to facilitate the transfer of current. Well, that is where some sort of circuit board is used to control the power that is supplied to the armature. The power is controlled using sensors located on the circuit board. For this setup to work, the armature is moved to the outside of the shaft while the magnets are placed on the inside.

What are the Advantages of Brushless Motors?

The removal of the brushes and commutator contacts coupled with the addition of a circuit board is where the advantages of the brushless motor lie.

Brushless Motors are More Efficient

As the motor spins, so do the commutator contacts, and the brushes come in constant contact with them as they spin. This leads to a number of undesirable outcomes. For one, it means that the brushes will eventually wear out. Secondly, this produces a lot of electrical noise and sparks. Thirdly, the sparks cause some energy to dissipate.

Since there are no brushes in brushless mortars, they are much more efficient. For one, there is no wearing of brushes to worry about, meaning brushless motors last longer. Secondly, the noise and sparks are significantly reduced. Thirdly, fewer sparks mean less energy dissipation, meaning brushless mortars require less power than their brushed counterparts to spin.

Brushless Motors are “Smarter”

The circuitry in the brushless motors that control the current makes brushless motors “smart.” Regardless of what you are doing, brushed motors will transfer the same amount of current to the motor all the time (unless there is some switch that you can use to manually control this). Brushless motors, on the other hand, have circuitry that can detect how much current the motor needs depending on the task you are doing at the moment.

Perhaps an example will best illustrate how this is a huge advantage. Suppose you are in the process of drilling some wood. Depending on how thick the wood is, a brushless motor will detect how much current should be transferred to the motor based on how much resistance the drill is facing. This has the advantage of making work more efficient. If the drill is cordless, less battery power will be used for the job compared to a brushed motor, which will use the same battery power no matter the job.

Now that you know the advantages of brushed motors, you can see that their popularity is well deserved. They are a drastic improvement over their brushed counterparts and that is what makes them a better alternative to brushed mortars. That is why many companies are using them in their electronics and many consumers are buying them.

Tips to Generate New Ideas

When you come up with a great idea for a product, not only can you manufacture something that will sell great on the global market, but also transform people’s lives for the better. But coming up with a great idea is not easy and requires a lot of dedication to produce the necessary criteria that will aid you in deciding which ideas are worth pursuing. Here are five tips that can help you think up new ideas for your next product development project.

Free Your Mind

Regardless of how hard coming up with great ideas is, for many people, the biggest hindrance is their own mentality. It starts off with thinking they are not that creative; a thought that creates a mental roadblock and prevents any idea from passing through and reaching its full potential. Here is the truth: idea generation is not a skill that is only available to the select few; it is something that is available to everyone, as long as they can dissuade themselves from the thought that they are not creative.

Brainstorm Ideas

Start by looking into your target consumers – what problems they are currently facing – and think about what products can help them solve their problems. Sit down (alone or with your team) and make a broad list of ideas without worrying about the minute details (you will flesh these out later on). After you come up with these product ideas, narrow it down to the ones you think will make great products.

Look at Existing Products

No idea is 100 per cent unique and everyone needs some inspiration. That is why it is a good idea to look at the current products that are meeting the needs of your target consumers and learn from them. You should not copy another company’s product but look at what makes it good, how it benefits the other company and how what you have learned could benefit your business. After that, you can aim to create a unique product based on the information you have uncovered.

Talk to People

If you want to come up with a great product that will help people, one of the best ways to go about it is to just go ask the people. Listen to their experiences and take down noteworthy stuff that you can reflect upon in your next brainstorming session.

Take Your Time

If the idea generation session is not yielding any fruits that day, do not force it. Sometimes, great ideas do not just come at once, but take some time to marinate in the brain. You might even be surprised that during the next session, ideas are just flowing with ease. So do not be discouraged if you come out of a session with nothing to show for it. Rather, always be prepared to take advantage of ideas when they do come, especially if they come in waves. Even if the idea seems dumb at the time, write it down; do not focus too much on wanting to come up with a great idea.

Following the above-mentioned tips will get you closer to coming up with a great idea. Idea generation is the first step when it comes to new product development, and taking it seriously is the best way to ensure success on the local, national and global markets.

5 Reasons Prototypes Are Important

A prototype can simply be defined as a functional sample based on a product design. There are many reasons for producing a prototype, but one of the primary and most important reasons is that it is used to gather feedback from potential investors and targeted consumers. Prototyping is without a doubt a significant part of new product development, and here are five reasons why.

1. Helps with Early Detection and Fixing of Errors

When it comes to business, there is a risk of failure, but this can be reduced with a good prototype. By prototyping your product, you can catch mistakes early on and fix them before moving on to another stage in the development process. This is extremely important because mistakes that are discovered later on are more costly to fix than if they were discovered in the prototype stage.

2. They are Good for Convincing Investors

If you want investors to buy into your idea, having something that they can visualize and interact with is a great way to get them on board. This is what prototypes are particularly good for. The prototype does not need to be perfect, considering that investors will not look at it as a full representation of the final product. As long as the prototype is functional to a reasonable degree, it should increase the chance that investors will want to buy in.

3. They Simplify the Process of Filing for a Patent

Although a prototype is not particularly necessary when filing for a patent, it is a great way to demonstrate the functionality of your concept. This has the added benefit of increasing the chance that your patent application will be successful. Just be sure not to waste time on making a prototype with all the bells and whistles since, when it comes to prototypes, the general rule is that the first one to invent it is the one who will get the patent.

4. Can Minimize Costs

Every business would love to minimize costs and increase profits. Luckily, this is something a prototype can help with. By manufacturing a functional sample early on in the new product development stages, you can figure out which steps can be removed, improved or streamlined during production, saving you a lot of time and money in the process.

5. Can Help Gather User Feedback

As mentioned earlier, this is one of the main reasons why prototyping is very important – getting user feedback. You can then use the information you have gathered from users to update the product accordingly. If you do not take into consideration the input of your target consumers, you will end up designing the product for yourself, which can decrease the chances that it will resonate with consumers once it hits the global markets.

These days, with the way prototyping is becoming more and more inexpensive, no successful new product development project can do without it. Prototyping smoothens the road into the local, national or global markets, allowing companies to launch products that have been perfected to the best of their ability.

Why research before development?

Market research is a key component of every new product development strategy. This is because the goal of every new product development strategy is to launch the right product on the local, national and global markets in the most cost-effective way possible. In a nutshell, marketing research is what makes this process more effective, and we are going to tell you why it is important in a moment.

But before we get to that, let us talk a little more about market research so the concept sinks in.

What is Market Research?

Market research is the process of gathering people from a target demographic in order to garner their thoughts and opinions on a particular topic. For instance, if a company is in the process of developing a product for chefs, they would need to gather some chefs together and ascertain their thoughts and opinions about their product idea. The information they gather from the group of chefs will inform every decision they make as they develop the new product, whether the decision concerns the product design, prototype, packaging and even advertising.

The Importance of Market Research

One way of knowing the importance of something is by looking at the benefits it provides. The good thing about market research is that it has some very good new product development-specific benefits that can impact the success of a product in a major way. Here are a few of them.

Eliminates Guesswork on Consumer Needs

What do your target consumers think about your product idea? Does it meet their needs? These answers can be answered by conducting market research. If you go around guessing what consumers need, the end result is that you may come up with a product no one has any use for.

Provides a Competitive Edge

If you do not conduct market research, you might launch a product or service only to find that the market is flooded with similar offerings. When you conduct market research, you are able to incorporate ideas into your product design that will distinguish it from others in the market. It can also help you examine similar products and services in your target market that are not doing well or have failed in order to avoid mistakes that have the potential to doom your offering to a similar fate.

Helps Determine Price

How much are consumers willing to pay for a product like yours? Again, guesswork can only land you in trouble here. People always have price expectations, and marketing research helps determine what those are.

Provides Feedback During Prototyping

Showing a prototype to your target consumers and getting feedback is a great way to avoid costly mistakes. Your product might have an issue that might seem small to you but huge in the eyes of your consumers. Also, not only can customers point out mistakes in the prototype, they can also point out opportunities that you can seize to make the product better and gain a competitive advantage.

So whether you are trying to develop a new product or service, market research plays a pivotal role in ensuring its success on local, national and global markets. Since your main goal is to deliver value to the customers in your target demographic, market research can offer insights into their thoughts and opinions, making it an invaluable process that should not be overlooked or underestimated.

Tips to Analyse Competition

When it comes to new product development, researching the competition is a great way to get ahead and stay ahead in the local, national and global markets. On top of that, conducting a competitive analysis is also a good strategy for scaling your business without having to fear the competition. This is why doing it right is crucial to the growth of your business. Here are five tips that can you help when performing a competitive analysis.

Know Who Your Competitors Are

Every company has competition – businesses who sell the same products or services as them and take their potential customers – whether on local, national or international markets. That is why it is a good idea to come up with a list of competitors so you know who you are dealing with. Sometimes there may be a hundred companies that you need to deal with, but a much practical approach would be to list down your top ten competitors and focus on them instead.

Become Their Customer

When you become your competitor’s customer, you can gain insights into your own business or the product you are developing depending on the good and bad things you learn from them. This goes beyond merely just buying from them, but actually interacting with them to see what type of service they provide to customers. Since you are researching your competition, do not be afraid to bombard them with questions and take note of important insights.

Look Them Up on the Internet

This is where your investigative skills come in handy. This means going on the internet and looking at their website and social media pages, as well as seeing what people are saying about them on business review websites. The internet is also full of useful tools, such as Google Alerts, that enable you to keep tabs on your competitors.

Attend One of Their Conferences

When your competitor is hosting a conference or trade show, attending it is a great way to see what they are offering and get a glimpse of their overall strategy for the market. At these events, your competition will be boasting about their greatest products and services, giving you an opportunity to gather some first-hand knowledge you can use to your advantage.

Be On the Lookout for New Players

When you are in or planning to enter an emerging market, there is a high chance that new players can come in and steal your potential or current customers. So always be on the lookout for new businesses. Also, do not just restrict your definition of new players to startups only because even old companies that were previously selling their products and services in other markets can shift gears and enter yours, becoming the new players in this scenario.

Conducting a competitive analysis is a great way to develop a product that outshines the competition or reveal opportunities as they present themselves on the local, national and global markets. Any business that wants to get ahead, stay ahead and expand should seriously consider scoping out the competition by performing a competitive analysis.

Product Design Myths

Product design is not that hard. That is what some people think until they actually start designing a product. It seems they have bought into the myths surrounding product design. But once they start designing the product, they face mistake after mistake as they try to achieve their dream of launching a successful product on the global markets. If you want to avoid missteps that can delay or even derail your product launch, do not believe these five popular product design myths.

Myth 1 – Simple Designs are Minimalistic

While it is true that simplicity is a good thing, but when it comes to product design, only making a “minimalistic” designs is not. A design that is too simplistic can do more damage than good as it can fail to meet expectations of your consumers. The damage is even greater if you manufacture a prototype from a “minimalistic” design and it fails to make an impression with potential investors – sometimes you only have one chance to wow investors. So do not conflate simplicity with minimalism.

Myth 2 – Product Design is About Aesthetics

Sure, a product design has to look good, but making a product aesthetically-pleasing is just one aspect of product design. Product design is not just about how consumers will see your product but also about how they will use it, meaning functionality is a huge aspect of the process as well. If you focus more on aesthetics and not functionality, something which is essential for maximizing user experience, you can come up with a good looking product that people will not want to use. The product might even be dangerous.

Myth 3 – Options Increase Customer Satisfaction

This myth is the opposite of the first myth. Some people believe that the more features a product has, the more people will be pleased and pay for it. Not only can this make developing a simple prototype a nightmare, it can also make the final product overly complicated for consumers to use. Yes, more options can be a good thing, but only if they fit into the simplistic design of the product and are integrated well. Otherwise, they can increase the number of potential problems that both you and your customers can face with the product.

Myth 4 – Products Become Testable Only in the Prototype Stage

People who think this have never heard of product design analysis, which allows you to determine the performance of a product before it even reaches the prototype stage. Product analysis can answer some very important questions before an expensive product is manufactured. These questions include if the product is costly to manufacture, pleasing to the eyes, made from sturdy components, being constructed using the appropriate method, safe to use and eco-friendly. You can do a product analysis at any stage of the product design process.

Knowing these myths will help you avoid product design mistakes in the process of developing a product. All business owners dream of making a product or service that is a huge success when it hits global markets, but this also leads them to believe anything. Hopefully, you never believe these debunked myths ever again.