Hutchison Whampoa’s manufacturing arm Hutchison Harbour Ring has drafted in Priestman Goode to work on its electronics brand i.Tech. The brief is to develop a range of consumer products for the emerging name.
Four of these designs, including a radio incorporating Digital Audio Broadcasting technology, are to be unveiled in London this week and the group has a further three digital radio designs in the pipeline.
The launch is part of HHR’s strategy to build the i.Tech marque as a global consumer brand in its own right. HHR has previously acted as a manufacturing vehicle for external clients, specialising in toy product manufacture.
The Hong Kong company chose product specialist Priestman Goode partly because of its expertise developing products for the US and European markets, according to Priestman Goode director Paul Priestman.
‘We were brought in to develop i.Tech as a brand, and to create an identity across all of the products,’ says Priestman. ‘We have introduced a quality of detail to the design of the products.’
As i.Tech gears up to compete on the high street, it is adding products such as the DAB radios to its existing mobile phone accessories range. Its first Priestman Goode products include two Bluetooth mobile phone earpiece devices, which allow users to connect wirelessly to a mobile phone at distances of up to 10m.
The consultancy is also launching the VKB, a ‘virtual keyboard’ that is created by the projection of an optical image on to a flat surface. The projection box, which is just 90mm tall and 34mm wide, creates a virtual switch in the air for each key; the optical element acts as a guide for the user to trigger these switches, entering data to a PDA, PC or laptop.
i.Tech is also set to announce a deal with a ‘major UK broadcaster’, to co-brand a new DAB set, says Rupert Carter, i.Tech sales and marketing manager for EMEA.
‘We are moving to more high-tier, hi-tech products that are about innovation,’ says Carter. ‘There’s certainly the wow-factor of the VKB, but we also want to promote usability and simplicity.’
The technology for the optical keyboard comes from an Israeli company, also called VKB. An i.Tech-branded VKB will retail for around £100, though other manufacturers are likely to buy the technology and style their own units.
According to Priestman, ‘i.Tech has identified a market where there is technology available to create innovative products at a value price. It really intends to shift units.’