Wearable Technology Design: Behind the Scenes of the Helix Cuff’s Creation

Designing a hardware product is in itself a challenge, but when you factor in usability and aesthetics considerations for a wearable product, it becomes even more difficult. The idea for the Helix Cuff came when Ashley Chloe CEO, Angela Pan, faced a problem that we all do - tangled headphones. Realizing that there was nothing that was both fashionable and functional in the wearable technology space, Angela sought to create a revolutionary wearable headphone, the Helix Cuff.

In a modern design, the Helix Cuff stores wireless, Bluetooth headphones around the Helix shaped cuff keeping the headphones untangled and invisible when not in use. The wearable headphones make a versatile, fashion-forward accessory and high quality headphones. Those with a penchant for music, style, design, and technology can appreciate the Helix Cuff's dual capabilities.

Image Credit: Ashley Chloe Inc.

Image Credit: Ashley Chloe Inc.

But what did it take to create this clean, modern design? Ashley Chloe answers in this behind the scenes look into wearable technology design and the beginnings of the Helix Cuff.

The Difference in Wearable Technology

“Plenty of headsets come with cases, but most people still carry them in pockets and purses, where the wires instantly tangle. We wanted to create an elegant solution to this problem, so we brought together a team with designers and engineers from Nest, Nokia, Lenovo, and IBM to create the Helix.” Angela shared. Putting together a team of experts was one of the first things the founder of Ashley Chloe did and it made a huge difference in the startup’s ability to create a revolutionary wearable.

Getting experienced perspectives on each part of Ashley Chloe’s business was a priority for the company. Team-based thinking has defined the startup’s culture greatly.

Helix Cuff’s Chief Designer, Mika Nenonen knew that designing wearable headphones would involve numerous considerations. He explained, “A human wrist is valuable real estate. We have to provide a lot of value to the consumer in order to  convince them to wear a product that attaches to their body, and that they will see all the time.”

“Fundamentally, the marriage of fashion and functional design to create a storage element for headphones simply didn’t exist,” Mika commented. Creating something that has never been created before is definitely a challenge. But when you’re working for an important solution, it’s a challenge worth taking.

Before he began the design process, Mika decided what he would need to focus on. He shared, “When we design a product that's so visible, we need to pay a lot of attention to the quality of the aesthetics and materials because it’s very much a representation of the user’s personal style. We wanted to create a design that looks sleek and stylish, feels comfortable, and cleverly hides its technological power.”

The design process consisted of multiple iterations. The design team went through hundreds of sketches to find the right look. 3D Prints were a useful tool in testing models. Finally, the Ashley Chloe team narrowed the design down to a few prototypes until they found Helix Cuff.

Challenging Design Constraints

Image Credit: Ashley Chloe Inc.

Image Credit: Ashley Chloe Inc.

“We were extremely limited with size, because no one wants to carry something bulky on their wrist. At the same time, the earbuds need to feel comfortable and provide impressive sound quality.” Angela described, “This challenged us to design an incredibly small speaker that fits perfectly in a cuff. With Bluetooth earbuds and premium sound quality, it's the first of its kind.”

By finding the right balance, the Ashley Chloe design team created a hearable that had enough space for high quality headphones and was small enough to wear.

It’s the loop design that makes Helix Cuff fit to your wrist. A magnet on one side of the loop connects with the other side to adjust to your wrist size. It takes seconds to slip on and fit to your size. This smart design enables the Helix Cuff to be flexible and fitting for all.

The cuff is thinnest right below your wrist, so that you can rest your arm on a table normally. This shows how usability was another focus of the wearable headphones’ design.

Accomplishments of the Helix Cuff’s Modern Design

Image Credit: Sarah Galvan Photographe

Image Credit: Sarah Galvan Photographe

It's incredible to look at all the high tech wearable has accomplished in just a short amount of time. An exceptionally successful crowdfunding campaign was just the beginning. With over 2.5 times its funding goal and thousands of early supporters around the world, the introduction of the Helix Cuff was a hit.

Just several months later, the Helix Cuff was named a 2016 CES Innovation Award Honoree. The Ashley Chloe team presented the Helix Cuff at CES and had a fantastic time speaking with industry experts and introducing Helix Cuff to attendees.

In February, Ashley Chloe’s CEO Angela Pan was invited to Sir Richard Branson’s island and had an exciting time speaking with the Virgin Group visionary who enjoyed trying out the Helix Cuff.

This month marks another exciting landmark for the Helix Cuff. As a winner of the Red Dot Award for Product Design, Angela attended the Red Dot Award Presentation in Essen, Germany representing the Ashley Chloe team in their achievement.

Image Credit: Ashley Chloe Inc.

Image Credit: Ashley Chloe Inc.

The Red Dot Award has become a world known “quality seal”, it stands for the globally leading design competition, for highest competence in design, and for excellent design. All award-winning products need to be manufacturable as one of the main criteria in Red Dot Product Design Award. This demonstrates the capability of the winners of bringing design from concepts to functional products.

The Helix Cuff was one of over 5,200 products entered into the Red Dot design competition. Forty one experts from around the world sit on an independent expert panel to assess entries strictly and fairly live and on site. Professor Dr. Peter Zec, founder and president of the Red Dot Award commented, “With their performances, the Red Dot winners not only demonstrated an extraordinary design quality, but they also showed that design is an integral part of innovative product solutions.”

All of this accomplishment and recognition started with a wearable design challenge and a thoughtful solution and was made possible by the early support of people around the world.

Ashley Chloe is committed to creating wearables that fill the gap between fashion and function while providing high performance as well as style and convenience.

Interested in wearable design? What do you think is missing in the wearable technology space? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

The community’s support for the Helix Cuff continues to impress us. Subscribe to our newsletter below to get the latest updates on Ashley Chloe’s wearable design. Find out what’s inspiring our team at Ashley Chloe in tech, music, style and more by following us at Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and LinkedIn.