Unitron is an amazing Canadian manufacturer of high quality hearing instruments. Their products help people of all ages who have hearing impairments to hear clearly and enjoy leading full and happy lives. Part of the unique challenge of designing a medical device for people with an impairment is the stigma associated with their condition. Generally, they want whatever devices are worn on their body to be as unobtrusive and invisible as possible. However, in the hearing instrument category, the power of the market has decided that people don’t want generic beige blobs either. The design challenge is to blend subtlety with sophistication.
The Unitron brand is built upon key values of approachability, humanity, and empowerment. Through several rounds of design exploration, we began to explore what this meant in terms of a visual language. First, we optimized the internal component package to make the form as small as possible, which helps the almond-size device hide completely behind the user’s ear. Then we explored aesthetics based on sculpted organic forms and integrated, flowing details. After several rounds of 2D sketch exploration, we proceeded into CAD.
We use Alias StudioTools for design challenges like the Moxi Kiss, where incredible attention is paid to the flow of the surface highlights and reflections. At this scale, we are dealing with minute fractions of a millimeter, and hugging the internal components as closely as possible. Unitron then took our CAD data to make prototypes and integrate into their internal development process.
Released at the Audiology Now conference in 2013, the Moxi Kiss debuted to high acclaim. Its unique sculpted organic aesthetic sets it apart from blockier competitors, and invites users to confidently wear it without feeling like they have a foreign device against their body. Perception is reality, and the final design speaks to the need for users of all ages to be both confident and comfortable with their hearing instrument.
In 2014, the Moxi Kiss won both the iF and Red Dot awards for excellence in design.
Team members: Andy Logan, John Sundermeyer