Dragons’ Den-style entrepreneurs are flocking to industrial designers to help bring their inventions to the street, as a clutch of forthcoming projects reveals.
Former Dragons’ Den contestant Charles Ejogo has been collaborating with Seymour Powell to design his umbrella-vending machine, Umbrolly, which appeared on the BBC2 TV series. The slim, wall-mounted unit will dispense up to 40 umbrellas at any given time.
Seymour Powell was approached by Ejogo about a year ago to help design the machine. The consultancy is in the final stages of working up a prototype and is securing a patent for the design, according to Matthew Tidnam, project manager at Seymour Powell.
The first raft of machines is expected to launch in the UK in the next few months. They are likely to be located in shopping centres and transport hubs, such as bus and train stations. The company expects to site more than 500 vending units by the end of 2006 and has secured deals with Prudential Shopping Centres, Westfield Shopping Towns, Southern Rail, Standard Life Investments and Manchester Airport, according to its website, www.umbrollys.com.
Meanwhile, BoxBrands, a company that operates stand-alone ChargeBox units for charging devices, such as mobile phones, Blackberries and iPods, is working with Design Stream to refine the machine’s design ahead of an international roll-out.
‘We would like to create a wall-mountable model and provide a space where you could download music and video as well. The kiosks are well positioned to provide such a service, and could be used for anyone who has a device containing mobile content,’ says Toby Staveley, chief executive at BoxBrands.
The ChargeBox machine, designed by Design Stream, contains six lockers that are suitable for charging various mobile devices from an array of manufacturers. To charge a device, it must be attached to a jack in the appropriate locker to that device. It costs £1 to use, which will give the consumer up to 40 minutes worth of charging time.
Staveley hopes to launch 250 units in the UK by the end of the year and is keen to kick-start an international roll-out, which could see ChargeBox in countries such as Iceland, France and Turkey, he says.
Design Stream was appointed by BoxBrands to design the locker unit in 2005. The project has been led by Design Stream director Charanjit Nandra.