The PuduBOT is designed to ease the work of waiters.

DESIGN’S SIGN OF APPROVAL: Designers and manufacturers from 54 countries have entered a record number of more than 5,500 product innovations for this year’s Red Dot Awards. This year’s Product Design awards will be doled out on July 3 at Essen’s Aalto-Theater.

Contenders for the “Red Dot: Best of the Best” will be doled out to such firms as Audi, Kartell, Artemide, Hansgrohe, Bora, Electrolux, LG, Canyon Bicycles, Philips, Puma, Niessing, Apple and Bose. Two recurring themes were nature and sustainability in materials and in product design. One example of that was the “biobrush” toothbrush using plastic and packaging based on cellulose made from leftover wood from sustainable forestry. Virtually carbon neutral, the toothbrush was made with paints and plastic that are biodegradable, even its packaging can be composted for a garden. For that reason, the “biobrush” was awarded the Red Dot: Best of the Best.

Jurors also noted the continued influx of robotics and new technology on the design process. While industrial robots are already prevalent, other robots are starting to be used for mowing lawns, cleaning windows and vacuuming. PuduBOT, this year’s Red Dot: Best of the Best for “robot technology” took a different approach to help waiters. PuduBOT brings orders to the guest using high-precision laser radar technology and interacts with the customer using facial expressions and an audio voice. Red Dot juror Nils Toft said, “In a near future more and more products will be autonomous and with artificial intelligence. We will live side by side with them and they will be our colleagues. How we design them can make a big difference.”

Along with accessories such as Moi & Co Oy’s reflective gloves, medi’s cozy winter compression tights, and Frisch Beutel’s N Uber C cork collection of bags, other Fashion and Lifestyle Accessories finalists include Puma Mostro, JS 3-D knitted shoes, Fred and Matt galoshes, Everbrand’s eco puncture-proof shoes, Hickies no-tie lacing system and an assortment of umbrellas including BMW’s Iconic Regenschirm, a driftwood one and a bamboo one both from Hangzhou Teak Culture.

Jury member Professor Renke He from China, an expert in industrial design, says: “Design quality decides the quality of the user experiences of products or services of the companies; it is the key issue for a company’s economic success.”

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