Art And Layout By Kai Javier
Art And Layout By Kai Javier.

Pandemic products: How COVID-19 reshaped the product design process

Interested to know the different products that skyrocketed to popularity this pandemic? Let’s take a look at some of these products and their design processes.

By Casey Delvo | Friday, 17 September 2021

Product design and innovation have shaped the world as we know it today. From the invention of crude stone tools, products have evolved into complex, mostly digital items that make the current standard of living possible. But with an ongoing global pandemic, how have product innovations come to reshape the times?

Pandemic innovations throughout history

  • The Plague of Athens, 430 B.C, - The earliest known pandemic in history killed 25% of the Athenian population, during the Peloponnesian War. Less than a century before this, the aqueduct was invented, enabling water distribution, indoor plumbing, and the earliest form of showers. 

  • The Black Death, 1347 - Spreading throughout Asia and Europe via trade routes, the Black Death was a surge of bubonic plague which exterminated a third of Europe’s population. The beak-shaped plague doctor’s mask used aromatic herbs and cotton as an early filtration system and social distancing device.

  • The Spanish Flu, 1918 - Known as history’s second-deadliest pandemic, it affected over 500 million people worldwide. One of the most significant products then, was the Bell Telephone, invented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1877, used for emergency calls.

  • SARS, 2003 - In February 2003, the first pandemic of the 21st century struck. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) infected over 8,000 people worldwide. This event would become a catalyst for the rise of one of the largest online commerce platforms to date—

  • COVID-19, 2020 - The Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a pathologic viral infection that targets the respiratory system. COVID-19 was officially classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020. In the Philippines alone, it had infected over 1.9 million Filipinos by August 27, 2021.

With vast developments in cases, product designers have been quick to step up with groundbreaking product solutions which made pandemic experiences such as going out for groceries and other essential interactions with the outside world, safer. 

    • Face Masks - Cloth face masks have been used since the 19th century, while modern surgical masks have been in use since the 1960s. Since the pandemic hit, brands, designers, and inventors alike have scrambled to create some of the safest, flashiest, or techiest iterations of the product. 

  • LG PuriCare - This wearable air purifier is form-fitted with medical grade silicone rubber to create a seal around the nose and mouth. It houses two replaceable HEPA filters that filter out 99% of bacteria.

  • MASKFONE - Putting masks together with in-ear bluetooth headphones, MASKFONE was designed for those on the go. It's equipped with a built-in mic, lightweight earbuds, and an interchangeable filter system.

  • Bio VYZR - Face shields provide a second layer of protection, covering the face with acetate or molded acrylic. Taking things to the next level, Bio VYZR is a wearable personal bubble with an air filtration system that completely isolates the head and shoulders of the wearer, eliminating the need for separate masks.

  • Charlotte Valve - Designed by Italian design company Isinnova, the Charlotte Valve is a 3D-printed adapter that transforms a full-face snorkeling mask into a ventilator for COVID-19 patients by enabling connections between the mask and an oxygen tank. It's 3D printable files are available for download on the company’s website.

  • Kumospace - Video conferencing is a new normal game-changer. This platform creates virtual rooms that minimize the typical video call headshot. Kumospace is styled in 2D art—a space where users have the freedom to move around, talk to other users in the space, or design their own spaces for private sessions.

With the uncertainty of the times, the only choice left for designers and consumers alike is to simply move forward one new product innovation at a time.

This article is also published in The Benildean Volume 7 Issue No. 2: Restored.

Last updated: Friday, 17 September 2021