It’s called the CinegoTM D-1000 Instant Theater DLPTM Projector with DVD and 2.1 Sound System. That’s a very long name for a brilliantly simple concept -- a portable home theater.
The brainchild of Texas-based industrial design firm Ignition, Inc., the Cinego D-1000 project began six years ago, when Ignition was working with client Texas Instruments. The product was intended to fill an identified need in the marketplace.
“Our research revealed that people were bringing home their business projectors and playing movies from their laptops," says Jeff Garrett, Ignition’s principal and chief marketing officer. “So we identified not only a new product, but a new product category: an all-in-one mobile movie machine. And we set out to build an integrated projector/sound system/DVD player, plus speakers and a subwoofer with DLP technology."
A month to remember. The Ignition designers had little time to develop a prototype. Texas Instruments was preparing for an upcoming trade show and wanted to spotlight the new product. The timeline for end-to-end development of a functional prototype: 30 days.
“It was a breakneck pace," recalls Jomichael Porter, Ignition engineering manager and project lead. “We literally had industrial designers standing over engineers' shoulders."
With a seemingly impossible deadline, the team required an advanced design tool that could shave hours and days off the development process. They found it in Pro/ENGINEER.
One of the tool’s most valuable attributes for the Cinego project was its ability to manage interior and exterior design at the same time.
“We were managing industrial design and product architecture simultaneously," says Garrett. “The skin was driving the architecture, the architecture was driving the skin. Pro/ENGINEER let us work on both pieces equally well. It’s very rare to have a single tool to help you with both."
RadioShack comes calling. The prototype was so well-received at the trade show that Ignition got to work on a second generation for an interested party: RadioShack. The Ignition team now had to develop a name for the product, as well as marketing and packaging for it.
The second-generation Cinego D-1000 posed a new set of challenges. The team realized that a key to the product’s marketplace success would be its appearance. It couldn’t look like an office projector; it needed to be consumerized, with a compact size and sleek exterior design. Ignition knew it needed to satisfy the product’s marketing demands of a small footprint with stylish curves, within the cost and physical limitations of the manufacturing specs.
“For the second generation, we wanted design personality and flair, not a piece of office equipment," Porter says. “We used Pro/ENGINEER because we needed far more than just the standard cut/extrude/revolve capabilities."
Thinking small. In addition, giving the product a diminutive look meant not only designing small, but also creating lines and curves to make the product appear small. “All surfaces had to look smaller," says Porter. “We needed to blend surfaces. We needed to maintain tangency. Standard angles and rounds wouldn’t suffice. Interface points had to be created from scratch. It required complex surfacing that we were able to tackle using Pro/ENGINEER."
Reducing the product’s size was not only about exterior styling. The projector’s inner workings needed to be condensed as well and Pro/ENGINEER helped make that happen. “There was no wiggle room or guesswork. We were working with Ľ mm tolerances to get pieces to fit in a very densely packed unit. We had the ability to move parts during the design phase and still perform interference checks. Then we referenced all interface points to it," explains Porter.
Making changes on the fly. Pro/ENGINEER also saved the team time making the inevitable changes required in new product design and manufacture.
“Pro/ENGINEER let us use a framework as a master model. We used the External Copy Geometry feature to associate the master model to the parts so when any change was required, we just changed the master model, and all the associated specs changed accordingly. It was a huge time-saver," Porter says. “With all the daily changes, there was no way we could have swapped out parts and maintained continuity without having the master model that we created in Pro/ENGINEER."
The big debut. The Cinego D-1000 made its debut at the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2005. It won not only the praise of visitors, but was also honored with the 2005 International CES Innovations Showcase Award, as well as the show’s Good Buzz Award.
On April 15, 2005, the D-1000 was offered for online purchase on RadioShack’s Web site, while receiving marketing support in the form of TV commercial spots during coverage of the 2005 NBA Finals.
The product seems destined to be a marketplace winner. And according to Jeff Garrett, it would not have been possible without the help of Pro/ENGINEER. “We’re industrial designers, and we don’t do square boxes," he says. “There is no surface invented that we can’t conquer using Pro/ENGINEER."
Ignition Inc., located in Plano, Texas, was founded in 1985. The design and product development company has a diverse client base including Texas Instruments, AMX, Fossil and Leapfrog.
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