New ways to improve the quality of life
HOW would you go about designing a fashion top that converts into a pair of pants? Or, for that matter, a folding computer keyboard, an oil-separating soup ladle, a watch that tells you you've been in the sun too long, or a video-CD karaoke player? Curiosity is clearly a factor that keeps judges keen to take part in the Consumer Product Design Category of the Hong Kong Awards for Industry.
The category constantly fields 70-plus contenders with new design ideas - some destined to be innovative benchmarks for the future, others handy paperweights.
The Federation of Hong Kong Industries co-ordinates the eight Consumer Product Design sub-categories: micro-computers and computer-related products; electronic products; electrical products; toys; jewellery, watches and clocks; clothing and fashion accessories; furniture and household products; and 'other consumer products' covering anything and everything else.
The products are first assessed by preliminary panels before the final judging panel recommends one for the Hong Kong Award for Industry.
The federation's executive officer, Jennice Chan, is new to the job and said she was looking forward to the variety of products which would be entered this year.
The federation has already taken many calls from firms expressing interest in being considered for this year's awards.
'Last year, there were a lot of entries in the electronics category, whereas other areas - such as furniture and household goods - needed to pick up a little,' she said.
'We want to attract a variety of products and we are trying to encourage innovation but, of course, being an award of quality, the products are also judged on aspects such as design excellence, marketability and safety.
'The standard overall, though, was much higher in 1995 than before.' More than most categories within the awards, Ms Chan said organisation was crucial to enable the long line of products to be properly scrutinised within a short period of time.
'There are so many different things to be judged but the panel will be basically the same one as last year, so there shouldn't be too many problems,' she said.
Entries in last year's competition included a sunwatch which warns the user when exposure to the sun has passed safe levels.
The user's skin type and the sun's UV potency are taken into account.
Another device entered was the Notebook Presenter MV-100, which converts computer output shown on the small screen of a VGA monitor to a sharp and stable image output on an ordinary television screen.
The portable device can be used with most television sets.
The multi-functional soup ladle entered was designed to separate excessive oil and residue from soup but can still be used as a standard ladle.