Innovation that transforms entire product categories frequently begins with designs that make complex products easier to use—and often cheaper. Simplicity defined a large number of winners this year. Some products for home and personal use won for sheer elegance. But others, including a mammoth fire truck and a small camcorder, took prizes because their elaborate functions were stripped down and made user-friendly.
ROSENBAUER PANTHER Design: Spirit Design (Austria)Built to put out airport fires, this 40-ton vehicle has equipment—including cannons that can shoot 4,000 gallons of fire-extinguishing agents—designed for firefighters in heavy gear.
EVA SOLO BIN Design: Tools Design (Denmark)Clever geometry eliminates hinges and allows this garbage can to open easily in any direction. Inside, bags fold around a simple metal ring. All in a sleek, gleaming skin.
ZEPPELIN IPOD SPEAKER DOCK Design: Native Design and Bowers & Wilkins (Britain)This functional sculpture breaks the mold of home speakers; its polished steel arm integrates smoothly with an iPod (AAPL).
HOLEDER EARPHONE Design: Yoon Sang Kim (South Korea) Bacteria in the ear can multiply 700 times faster behind earphones. This concept, by a Seoul National University of Technology student, fits on the rim and doesn't plug the ear.
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