Smart Measure Cup - Concept vs Reality

The Smart Measure Cup started off as an industrial design concept by Ryan Eder and Chris Daniels of Priority Designs, and as since been brought to production by Taylor Kitchenware. The top of the two images is the concept rendering, the bottom is the actual product. So what's changed, and why, and how does it affect the user? Let's take a look...

-The color of the handle has obviously changed, but so has the material; it's no longer the soft-touch rubbery stuff that the concept implies with its seamless buttons, but instead a harder, harsher plastic. Right off the bat, this loses some desirability appeal, even if it doesn't affect actual functions or usability. But it may affect usability, if the buttons in the real version aren't sufficiently waterproof for washing!

-The LCD display has taken a hit, too; the real product gives up the concept's attractive dot-matrix display for a regular seven-segment type. Just a style change (and cost-reducer), but again, it loses some more visual appeal.

-The graphics on the sides of the cup have remained mostly the same, albeit a bit more tightly packed. However, Taylor's brand name has been added, and in a different font. Presumably they want to add the logo to associate their brand with a quality, innovative product - but ironically, the logo in fact detracts from the overall aesthetic, making the product feel cheaper. Ouch.

So there you have it - usability is pretty much unaffected, but something about the soul of the product has been lost. It happens a lot between concept and reality - and you can't benefit from the use of a product that you're not motivated to buy!
[via Gizmodo]


Pete Kazanjy said...


Not 100% sure about this, but the rendering appears to be for a 2-cup measuring cup, whereas the shipping product seems to be a 4-cup? And because they didn't put any reference items in the image (like a quarter, or pencil, or something), we may be doing a bit of apples-to-oranges comparisons?

If my hypothesis is right, I assume that would make the second image one of a larger tool, which could affect to two of your points, namely:

1. The claustrophobic gradations on the side of the cup (I agree). In the case of the 4-cup version, in order to have 1/2 and 1/3 cup increments on there, there's a need for that many more.

Also, it looks like because the red-cup got larger (in terms of circumference) there's the vertical space between the hashes has gotten smaller, too, because the radius (and thus, volume per vertical inch) has grown. So perhaps as the radius grew, there may have been a need to rethink the layout of the hashes?

2. The fact that this is a larger cup could make the screen look smaller as well. I would agree with you that the screen looks kinda teensy as well, so perhaps with the 4-cup version, the screen could get bigger.

Yeah, and that grip doesn't look nearly as touchable as the green one, nor do the buttons look comfortingly hermetically sealed! Scared to put the red one in the dish washer!

Do you think that they might be different sizes?

Dave Gustafson said...

Pete, I had wondered the same thing about the size! I thought that maybe the original rendering didn't have actually accurate volume measurements, but instead just made the graphics spaced so that they looked good rather than showing real fractions of cups. It's that kind of engineering rigor that needs to be done early to make the renderings realistic to final products!

Just Another Abused Air Traveler said...

No disagreement on your conclusions but slight objection to the two photographs being taken from different angle since this changes the impression as to the size and shape of the handle (and the cup itself).

Dave Gustafson said...

Good point (and I love your blogging nickname!) - lots of products have "good sides" or specific angles from which they're best viewed. And I agree that in this one, the rendering is a more flattering angle than the photo!

Just Another Abused Air Traveler said...

I travel a great deal and finally after SO MANY TIMES changing my FB status to "delayed by Delta" as I did not go with my wife to dinners, parties, dances on Friday nights I started, and then took the nickname.

Btw - I always read and enjoy unpressable buttons.