Jan Chipchase writes a short entry about the failure and successes of color-changing diapers that alert parents of a wet diaper (or nappy):
Yellow nappy stripes – a familiar, comforting sight for parents indicating that the contents of the container/nappy are dry – with a few drops of liquid the stripes turn blue. Whilst it would be disputed by the marketing departments of FMCGs its rare to see (what most people consider to be) genuine leap-forward innovation in mass-market consumer goods such as nappies and razors – but genuine innovation this is. This nappy design is an absolute time saver – parents/carers no longer need check inside the nappy/feel the groin area for moisture/hold-baby-up-to-nose before heading to the changing table. The yellow/blue stripes provide parental confidence; reduce the risk of baby miscomfort; save time; and reduce the risk of erroneously changing a nappy.
But the feature is far from perfect: there appear to be false positives (where the blue stripes appears with no apparent dampness) – it will be interesting to see how motivated manufacturers are to ‘fix’ this issue given the (if 1 in 20, then ~5%?) bump it provides to the bottom line.
Design helps people in big and little ways, but design is also about business; it’s very insightful knowing that as much as Mr. Chipchase does research and design, he also reminds us that we have to consider the bottom line of the new innovative products we develop.