For my simple product design project, I chose the comb, the one we use to comb(v) our hair. It is one of the oldest tools used by human beings, we have proof of combs being used since prehistoric times, to be clear, around 5000 years ago. A comb consists of a shaft that holds a row of teeth. That’s it. It’s simple. It’s made out of a number of materials, most commonly plastic, metal or wood. But a whole bunch of other materials like tortoise shell and ivory were once used, but now with animal protection laws and all, their use has reduced a lot.
We started off by drawing the most common and simple designs of the comb and imagining more complex ones. Here I’m not talking about the hair brushes, just the sturdy ‘comb’.
The simple ones, actually there are a bunch of different types of those. Mainly the fine tooth combs, the wide tooth combs, the barber combs, the original or all purpose combs, lice combs etc. And there are combs that are in circular shape, as well.
For the complex ones, I thought of one which adjusts the gap between the teeth electrically and a round one that does the same with some spring mechanism. So by rotating the dial or pressing a button, we can adjust the teeth distance. Then there is one that is foldable. To make it fit in your pocket properly.
Next we looked at what all different purposes people use the product for.
Apart from the most obvious use, that is combing the hair, there are other ways people use the comb.Like to undo the knots or tangles in the hair.
Massaging the head with a comb helps you relieve from stress and helps natural conditioning oils of the scalp to move throughout the hair by combing hair.
Combs can be used to scratch your back also.
There are combs used to remove nits and lice.
Apart from these combs can be used to give textures in paintings. Combs are also a tool used by police investigators to collect hair and dandruff.
I’m going with the combing and massaging part of it.
I’m looking for problems with existing combs. One, most of these are made of cheap plastic. As combs are an everyday essential for most people, this can be an potential environmental hazard.
Then the combs sometimes get strangled in hair, resulting in hair breakage.
The all purpose comb, which has both fine and wide teeth in the same comb, but won’t fit your pocket.
Brief 1: Design an eco-friendly comb with adjustable teeth gap, that would fit in your pocket.
So moving forward, we are now looking at the steps involved in the process, each tasks that make up the entire process of combing your hair. That includes looking for the comb, or trying to remember where you kept it last, to cleaning it and keeping it back for later usage.
Find out what are the different categories of users.
See how we can improve the whole process of a very simple thing like combing your hair.
Look for parallel products and see how they can help in my project.
Now diving deeper into the history of combs, we can see that primitive versions of the comb have been found throughout history by archaeologists. These were initially used to remove insects, lice and dirt away from the head. It can be seen that all early people had invented their own combs. According to researchers, the very first combs were made of wood, ivory and fish bones. Early combs looked strikingly similar: built with five or ten teeth, anthropologists suggest that they were designed to resemble the human hand. The comb shown in the timeline, from 1000 BC, the bronze one was found from the oak coffin burial of a girl at Egtved, near Koldind, Denmark. The first of the double- sided combs were found to be in China around 3000 years back. In India there were combs that could hold oil inside so that while combing, the oil would be distributed nicely on the scalp(couldn’t find an image, but a similar product was launched by Indulekha in the late 2010s) . Combs are part of myth and history in India. In West Bengal, they are still used as ritual objects and are part of puja offerings to the goddesses, says Nabakumar Duary, a Kolkata-based anthropologist with the Anthropological Survey of India, who specialises in tribal art and craft. They hint at a community’s grooming standards too, he adds. “In Jharkhand, many tribal groups used compact wooden combs with thin spikes very close together. This shows that they were using combs for delousing, which suggests they were particular about hygiene.” I think in Kerala, animal horn combs are still being made. There is a video on wikipedia that made me think this way.
From rudimentary prehistoric combs to the amazingly elaborated designs of Middle Ages and further centuries, these combs are testimonials of how people concerned about hair styles’ appearance.
There are a lot of different types of head massagers in the market right now. Most popular are those simple ones. No rocket science, you can give yourself a nice massage, whenever you want. Head massagers are said to promote blood circulation and thus keep scalp and hair vibrant and healthy.
If want to spend some more money and buy electric massagers, you’ve got quite a lot of options there, too. There are more conventional looking ones, or there are those fully adjustable wearable ones which looks like a ski helmet. In these types, we can adjust the vibration frequency, intensity etc.
Hair dye brushes
These are widely used by people all over the world, people who don’t like their hair going white. To apply the dye without getting your hands messed up, use these brushes. They are mostly made of plastics. You can use dye hair brush sets for applying colors and treatments to hair.
A rake is a broom for outside use; a horticultural implement consisting of a toothed bar fixed transversely to a handle and used to collect leaves, hay etc, for loosening the soil, light weeding and leveling, removing dead grass from lawns, and generally for purposes performed in agriculture. They are usually seen with a wooden handle and metal teeth.
Looking at the users
User groups helps in better understanding of how users perceive a product, what users believe are a product’s most important features, what problems users experience with the product, where users feel the product fails to meet expectations.
We have babies as users. Combing their heads help them relax, and it also stimulates their nervous system. It’s mostly their parents who does the combing. They must use combs with soft bristles, so as to not hurt the baby.
For kids and teenagers, some of them have to comb their hair in a particular way, as their school suggests. There are students who carry round combs which fits in their pockets to the school. For kids, parents help them sometimes. And for removing lice or nits, it’s mostly the parents who do the better job, for them.
Now let’s look at adults. When men use comb, most of them do it in a hurry, just to part it to the side. Some people don’t use comb at all. There are women who spend a lot of time combing their hair.Mostly working people, or students have to skip this part or they do it on the way or just before entering the building.
When you become old, your joints tighten and it’ll be hard to reach to comb. Old people, our grandmas or granddads who’ve done surgeries, in shoulders especially. They need someone else’s assistance. And you have to be careful not to hurt them, just like we do the babies.
Now diving deeper, I’m shortening my user groups and trying to find my target group. I’m thinking of working men who are mostly stressed and on the run. And considering the fact that a lot of men don’t use combs, there is scope for a more interactive way of combing and combing can help in reducing stress.
As we’ve fixed on the user group it’s time to build features. Like looking at the whole process we’ve followed till here, keeping in mind the user group and picking keywords, help in feature building.
- Easy to use
From the keywords, I branched out some of them for understanding the required features better.
Features I’m looking for are,
A concept that I came up with, is a modified version of the normal barber’s comb. What I did was, I gave two sets of teeth, like two wide tooth combs in a single unit. By sliding one set we get a fine tooth comb. So this is like a two in one comb, that fits in the pocket unlike barber’s comb, which doesn’t. And there is a padding on one side for better grip and in hand feel.
Another concept that I thought of was this one that looks similar to a flat pocket comb. This has a curved surface which makes i easier to hold in the hand and I think it matches with the head’s curve. I thought of making it in two different pieces joint in the middle by a small spring kind of mechanism and therefore enabling us to bend it inside our palm like a massage ball. The bristles must be soft material like rubber or silicon so that it won’t break while pressed.
I went ahead with the first concept, the comb with sliding teeth. I made a few 3D renderings of the model.
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