The second best thing after sliced bread? Milk bottle openers | PDD


January 16 2011
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The second best thing after sliced bread? Milk bottle openers

On returning from my local corner shop with a bottle of milk, I laid out the tools required to formulate the perfect cup of tea: kettle-on, sugar-out, mug  selected, tea bag dumped. Tea making has become so habitual, it’s something that’s assumed to be done with ease by all. However on this occasion my routine was briefly disrupted as I opened the milk. Expecting to uncover the usual white plastic coated aluminium anti tamper seal, with a small protruding tab, purportedly to facilitate removal, there was something different. The seal, though similar, appeared to be covered by a large semi-circular plastic flap, the same width as the spout and with the words ‘pull tab’ repeated across its surface.

Curious about how this new seal might work, I was immediately drawn to interact with it. Folding the flap into an upright position, I pinched it firmly between my thumb and two fingers. It was apparent to me that it should peel it off in a similar manner to the old tab, so I tried my luck and started to  apply  some force. Expecting to experience considerable initial resistance, as is common with these sorts of seal, I was surprised by the ease at which I could initiate the removal process. There is often a sense of loss of control once the process of removal is underway, as the seal rockets along its pathway until it reaches the end, where it either jars or flicks off (and in many cases flicking milk over me) in an uncontrolled movement. But in this case the force required was linear, I felt in control.

This may seem like a small improvement, and in some ways I feel a bit of a nerd sharing my excitement over a milk bottle tamper seal, but it did make me think about two things (as is my natural instinct).

Firstly, the way in which a minor change in a product interaction can alter our relationship with an object, helping to make our experience more pleasurable.

But more importantly, the impact a minor innovation can have on the lives of those less fortunate. Having worked extensively with people less able than myself and people with complex physical impairments, I am very aware that what might seem like a simple daily task can be gruelling and arduous process for others. In the case of this milk bottle seal, the  option  to use three fingers instead of two; can be the difference between frustration and elation; empowering a person to run a normal life. For people with Parkinson’s disease or Multiple Sclerosis, fine motor movement are some of the most difficult, a seal that opens this way, can be the difference between autonomy and reliance on others.

By adopting a people centric approach to design, we can not only improve the lives of those less fortunate, but also create product experiences that are more desirable and compelling to all. Exciting hey?

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Posted by PDD

Languages spoken: Global.
The last thing that inspired me: Design and Innovation.
My dream project: A project that makes a difference in the world.
My obsession: Develop successful, award-winning and world-first products and experiences.