Looking Back on IAAPA 2019 With A New Perspective

Looking Back on IAAPA 2019 With A New Perspective

Field notes from Orlando November 2019…

My travels last year included numerous trips to Orlando for client visits and a few days at IAAPA, the annual themed attraction trade show. Little did I know that my travels in 2020 would be eliminated by a global pandemic. Looking back on November 2019, it seemed like a simpler, easier time…

I attended a presentation by George Walker, Creative Director with Universal Creative. George launched into his presentation with a story about his youth and the theme park he built in his backyard in upstate New York. He followed his dreams and has worked on creative projects around the world and back to join the growing and innovative Universal Team based in Orlando. 

George’s message resonated with me before the pandemic, through the shelter at home period, and even more so now as I think about the future for our business and the challenges every company faces…we are living in a dramatically changed landscape. A few of his key points are paraphrased below:

 

Key Points from George Walker at IAAPA 2019

Achieve Authentic RealityFredricks on iaapa 2019 exhibit

A theme park is a story place. Themed entertainment is built on emotion and emotion comes from experience.

An experience is an event or occurrence that leaves an impression.

“When experience is the commodity, authenticity is the currency.” Authenticity is key.

These simple principles can be applied to any business, product, service delivery, or organization. Now, more than ever, we are all seeking authenticity in our personal and professional relationships. There is now no tolerance for bullshit or shoddy delivery on brand promise. 

We all need to take a reality check on what our client’s problems are and how we will deliver a differentiated and memorable experience on every engagement. It is an opportunity to improve ourselves, our teams, and our products and services.

 

Tell Your Story From the Heart

Our work with leading entertainment companies has sharpened our storytelling skills. We’ve been really lucky to participate in creative reviews with some of the world’s best talent and we have been inspired to up our game by their work. 

The best stories are delivered with passion from the heart using simple language and high impact, clean images. 

All companies and organizations are now confronted with the reality that budgets are tight and talent will be stretched thin while working in different ways. It seems like a great time for clear thinking and straight talk. We are all uncertain, a little on edge, and curious about what the future will look like as the economy begins to ramp up. 

 

Deliver an Excellent, Emotional Experience

There is an old saying that “we are only as good as our last project”. Brand promises are kept or broken through every client touchpoint and relationships are built over time. 

Our experience with cross-functional teams has proven that straight talk communication is essential in building trust. Thanks to our clients and diverse project experience, we have developed clear and simple project management tools to track progress on creative technical and commercial issues. Weekly updates are shared with key stakeholders to ensure we are tracking to plan with no surprises along the way. 

In many instances, we act as a designated or de-facto catalyst with the creative studio and engineering team to help keep everyone aligned on the established storyline and moving towards our project deliverables and deadlines. Authenticity and delivery on our promises have been a big factor in our success over the past few decades. 

The overall experience with any firm, product, or service is a sum-total of touchpoints and the end deliverables. 

Back to the simpler and easier time of November 2019…little did I realize that so much of what George Walker shared would be applicable as we step into our new and weird landscape! Relationships, trust, and follow-through on our commitments will be even more important as we fire up the economic engines and get back to work. 

Thank you for sharing George — we look forward to working together when the time is right!

Maury Fredricks

CES 2019 Review

CES 2019 Review

I kicked off CES 2019 at the CES KeyNote Event hosted by Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association.

CTA State of the Industry Address and IBM Keynote

Gary presented a few key insights for future application in product, systems and organizational development:

We will solve more problems in the next two decades than we solved in the last two centuries.

We all need to think horizontally and look for different ways to collaborate to solve problems. Vertical industries are a thing of the past.

Let’s all work together to create a world where everyone has access to healthcare, services and a better world for everyone.

This all points to the significant challenge of working on the right problems for the right reasons. Although the keynote event was inspiring, the challenges of the real world awaited on the streets of Las Vegas. The commute from the Venetian to the Convention Center is 2.1 miles and a 10-minute drive in light traffic, as measured by Google Maps.

The actual commute consumed at least an hour using UberX. I know, these are developed world problems in a world where vast numbers of people are struggling to find water, food and medicine for their children. In any case, Las Vegas’ busy streets offer an opportunity to unpack the real world challenges described by Gary Shapiro in his excellent keynote presentation.

Our cities are now more populated and crowded than at any time in our history and the global population is expanding. Many of us, in the developed world, are living longer lives. This simply translates to more people moving around in our cities of the future, leading to more congestion, even longer commute times, and a greater environmental impact as well.

Parking in Las Vegas is already a blood sport and very expensive when you are lucky enough to either find a spot or valet your car. Again, a developed world problem, but let’s continue our exploratory journey into mass transit of the future.

CES 2019 offered a glimpse into the future of shared mobility transportation, autonomous vehicles, EV and alternative energy vehicles.

There was an increased focus this year on shared mobility transportation (compared to CES 2018) and this is a really good development.

“Last mile transportation” solutions are being tested in cities and some universities. Initial indicators are encouraging for this mode of moving from point A to point B in a relatively closed landscape. The city of Las Vegas can apply shared solutions from the one end of the strip using existing feeder streets and/or, possibly, a small vehicle lane on the borders of the congested strip. This is an ideal city to prove out advanced applications and technologies.

As Gary Shapiro pointed out in the keynote, we need horizontal and collaborative thinking to solve the world’s biggest problems. This will require open innovation and contributions from municipal, corporate, universities and agile entrepreneurs. The future is indeed exciting and it’s a wonderful time to be in the vehicle development business.

Interested in learning more about Fredricks Design’s CES 2019 findings? Please contact us to schedule a detailed review, or to learn more about our work in vehicle development.

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Neocon 2018: Blurred Lines

Neocon 2018: Blurred Lines

As a product development consultancy, our company works in a range of markets from furniture to theme park rides. When comparing technical projects involving theme park restraints or autonomous automotive interiors to furniture, we typically view furniture design as relativity straight forward. Then there are days we walk through 10 showroom floors filled with nothing but furniture and we are reminded that no design is simple and straight forward. In other words, not all chairs are created equal.

Neocon Blog Collage

Furniture design is about a user’s environment; it is emotive and primal. We continue to see a trend of blurring the lines between home and office and it has never been more noticeable than now. From texture to color and finishes, we see furniture companies do what they can to differentiate in a market so saturated it’s water-logged. This makes design more important than ever. What makes a chair stand out in a building with thousands? This question is only answered by thorough research, well-balanced design and pointed execution.

As work environments continue to change through new products brought to market it creates new design challenges for future product development. We’ve seen offices open-up in terms of floor plans and desk configurations. In response, we’ve seen walled conference rooms, isolation pods and other creative answers to noisy environments with little privacy. This creates a continuous cycle of new design challenges and constant need for new product development and research.

This continuous cycle of research and product development will continue to focus on user experience. This will always be the driving force for furniture whether it be healthcare, home or office. It is our job as designers and engineers to continue this process for both the users and the companies that rely on us to help bring successful product to market. Constantly evaluating users, environments and products allows us to stay relevant in a fast-paced world and consistently deliver innovative and responsible product.

In competitive job markets, we see spatial and furniture design as a recruiting tool for companies to bring the best talent into their teams. Furniture design is used as a powerful driving force behind a company’s brand identity and a continuation of their culture. All these decisions have a lasting impact that goes far beyond what looks “good” in your office park.

All in all, Neocon serves as our annual memento for how far furniture has come and all the problems we still need to solve. It is truly incredible to see so many different designs for something that, in theory, could be as simple as an elevated surface. This serves as a constant reminder that our design problems, industries and businesses are forever changing and evolving.

 

(All photos taken while attending Neocon 2018)

Conor Fredricks
Industrial Designer
Fredricks Design, Inc.

Fredricks Design, Inc. is a full-service design and engineering firm based in Grand Haven, Michigan. The firm specializes in working as an extension of the client studio and engineering team to identify the right problems and accelerate development of solutions from early ideation, feasibility, concept development and production of mock-ups, prototypes and show properties. Fredricks works with key Clients in the automotive interiors and seating industries, advanced rides and show action projects for themed attractions, furniture, healthcare and consumer products markets.

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CES2018 Mobility Ideas, Concepts & Future Solutions

CES2018 Mobility Ideas, Concepts & Future Solutions

image source: google images

Back to the future…

“The Jetsons” was a hit cartoon when I was growing up (produced by Hanna-Barbera,aired in primetime from September 23, 1962, to March 17, 1963). For a half hour every week, the show engulfed my imagination in a future world where people were enabled by robots, automation and streamlined, on demand mobility options. Rosie the maid was a robot and everything seemed so much easier for humans. The family seemed so happy, except when they were complaining about the hard work and minor inconveniences of life. Many things have changed over the years, now decades, and some things will remain the same.

This lifestyle, as it relates to mobility and the way we interact with products, is a reality in the developed countries of this world. CES showcased IoT, smart city, smart home and automotive technologies to improve our lives. That’s the idea anyway.

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CES 2016 Insights

CES 2016 Insights

 

Photo by John F. Martin for Delphi.

A visit to CES is like taking a trip to Europe. You have to choose where you spend your time or you run the risk of experiential overload. There is a lot to see and too little time. A high degree of patience is required for any visit to Las Vegas. There are people everywhere and dinner reservations are at a premium. These, of course, are developed world problems and I was lucky to be able to experience the show over two busy days.

CES is set up in 2.74m square feet of space housed in three different venues from the north of the Strip to the south end. There were 3800 companies exhibiting and the show attracted approximately 175k visitors from North America, Europe, Asia and many other countries. The investment in manpower, travel, marketing, show design, exhibit fabrication, setup and tear down must be an astronomical number. It’s really amazing that anyone with business credentials, a nominal fee for entry and the desire to walk miles every day can experience everything the show has to offer. (more…)