Point of Purchase Device
Catalyst is proud to be a design partner of Mesh Systems, an expert IoT design and development company. Mesh Systems designed technology which allowed consumer purchase data to be analyzed in real time. Customers would present their smartphone where an app converted digital promotions to a UPC, then scanned during a transaction.
During the system development, there were a variety of usability concerns that needed resolution prior to deployment of field trials. The system needed to be able to scan a user’s phone, be wired to the network, and have a display that could be scanned with a standard UPC scanner device. Both the consumer and retailer components of the product had their own challenges.
On the consumer side, the built-in scanner needed to point down with enough room to easily place any smartphone under the scanning area. This required in-depth research at all potential size variations within the smartphone market. The scanner device also required a specific distance for optimal reading of the digital image while fitting within a crowded countertop environment. The consumer side of the device also needed to incorporate lighting to accent specific RJR Spot-You-More branding and usability communications to the user.
The retailer side required a simple display with optimal viewing and scanning angle for the cashiers, along with a few simplified interface buttons. Both user interface components required modularity to facilitate a variety of countertop configurations and use scenarios. In some cases, the two modular units were required to be nested together. In other layouts, the modules were needed to operate while separated.
Providing solutions to design challenges
early in process
The Industrial Design team at Catalyst began working closely with the Mesh Systems team to define essential electronic components. The designers accommodated the electronics packaging of components and quickly generated a variety of concepts blending form, proportions and aesthetics. Component placement was adjusted to consider alternates for ergonomics and usability. The concepts were paired down to a select group and refined based on the best solutions. This collection of concepts were then developed into 3D renderings and placed within a simplified countertop and register scene. Mesh Systems used these renderings to provide context while consulting with RJR to determine the best concept for development.
Once the final concept direction was approved, the Catalyst mechanical engineering and industrial design teams worked together to refine the device enclosure design. Considerations were taken during this phase to ensure the design would capture the aesthetic and functional requirements, while also simplifying injection mold tooling for lower overall manufacturing cost and complexity. Engineers developed the optimal configuration for the device by blending injection molded plastic enclosures, injection molded light pipe components, CNC machined lens material, and a sheet metal base.
During this process, the Catalyst design and engineering team demonstrated the overall form and function of the device using 3D printing technology to develop initial prototypes. Additional iterations of prototyping allowed the engineering team a mechanical assembly along with additional show models that included all functional details. Mesh Systems was able to share these prototype models with RJR throughout the process to gain confirmation in direction and commitment from their client.
Validation prototyping utilized
for various needs
Catalyst was an essential factor for Mesh Systems to achieve their goal of conducting field sample product trials. In an expedited timeframe, the Catalyst tooling and molding team built multiple injection mold tools for the plastic components. The Catalyst team also managed and coordinated the sourcing of metal base components and powder coated finishing processes. As a final value-added step, the Catalyst team handled the manufacturing and assembly of field test units. 200 production-quality units were deployed throughout the Midwest and Southeast for market field trials.
This program followed the proven Catalyst fast-track design process. From the initial kickoff meeting to the completion of the 200 field test units, the program was complete within a 4 ½ month time period. Collaboration between Mesh Systems and all Catalyst internal teams was critical to ensure this expedited timeframe was achieved. This was made possible by blending the efforts of the Catalyst design, engineering, and production teams, allowing processes to overlap during the development cycle. Each team had the chance to provide input during all development stages to better improve the program transition. Mesh Systems’ team was also essential in providing clear direction on electrical development, quickly getting client feedback, and managing their client’s expectations. The condensed timeframe was made possible by close collaboration with the client and Catalyst’s ability to include all development processes within one facility.