Chervon has been developing and perfecting its industry-leading line of cordless outdoor power equipment (OPE) for more than a decade. Its promise to provide power and performance of gas “without the noise, fuss or fumes” has gained traction for its EGO Power+ platform of products while fueling company growth.
With a strong foothold secured in the outdoor equipment market, the company recognized an opportunity to leverage its underused, rechargeable power source. By making it into multi-purpose power station and portable generator where its batteries are charged, it could also expand its reach and tap a broader customer base.
To expand the EGO brand with its Nexus Portable Power Station, Chervon needed to achieve two outcomes – retain and expand usage among existing EGO product users as more products will require multiple batteries; and attract a new base of customers interested in a lifestyle product or “power source before power tools” product.
The key to attracting interest and understanding is this new, multi-faceted product, Chervon understood it needed to design a technology-driven user interface to clearly communicate important and intuitive information to the user through an LED display.
“TACKING BIG PROBLEMS REQUIRES TAPPING QUALIFIED PARTNERS.”
-Jon Hamm, Director of Industrial Design, Chervon
Understand the Possibilities
Chervon knows battery power and recognized how a device-reliant society could benefit from a rugged, portable generator capable of powering experiences while also charging its EGO equipment batteries.
We met with Chervon’s project team to understand what they envisioned and where their new product could be applied successfully, including outdoor worksites, camping, and tailgating scenarios, as well as indoors during power outages for appliance support and device charging. Together we studied what we didn’t know – specifically how different user needs, usage models and configurations would need to communicate the power status of the generator and real-time status across active USB ports, 120V A/C outlets, and EGO batteries.
Key Learnings Revealed via Design
Equipped with Chervon’s desired functions and priorities for the Nexus Portable Power Station, we began developing designs to meet those specifications, including critical LED display messaging at various distances for readability and coherence.
Prototype designs developed to meet current specifications revealed limitations in the display technology on a two-battery power station. While still on paper and in the internal assessment stage, the digital display proved to be too small. Given that reality, several “what if” designs also were proposed. While a smaller, low-resolution display fit within existing cost constraints, it was clear that a larger, more intuitive technology display was critical to the product.
To achieve a larger screen with a higher quality display and more information required Chervon to consider a larger four-battery platform rather than its original two-battery expectation. This meant a more expensive development process and end product that would need to be tested with customers to confirm if customers would be willing to pay for it.
Truth in Testing:
If you build it, will they buy it?
Just because a design team passionately believes in a product doesn’t mean it has market viability. We needed first-person insights and engaged in dialogue with consumers around key issues such as:
- Can you see yourself using/benefitting from this product?
- Does this product power the things you want?
- Is it easy and intuitive to operate?
- Is the user interface easy to understand?
- Would you be willing to pay this price?
As a result of VRT testing we learned what customers liked and didn’t like, what they found confusing, how we could improve the visual display and, in turn, influence and direct overall design. It needed to convey the sophistication of technology but also the ruggedness of the outdoors (consistent with other EGO products), while also be at home in the home where generators aren’t typically present.
A Rugged and Reliable Display
EGO is battery technology expertise. We knew we needed to create an interface that communicated futuristic, cutting edge technology while also remaining rugged, reliable and utilitarian to fulfill the brand promise.
We developed the technology platform that powers the prominent display, which has become the face of the product. Its easy-to-read, white-on-black LED display contained a large custom number font consistent with the EGO brand as well as intuitive icons for every charging application.
The stylized look of the display – along with a product design that is rugged and weather resistant, and performance that brings more power to any environment that its competitors – makes the Nexus Power Station a stand-out product in the electric portable generator category.
For Chervon, bringing this product to market is a significant result on its own. With changes in scope, size and budget, the Nexus Portable Power Station far exceeded a typical 18-month development timeline. However it was the start-and-stop nature of moving from a two- to four-battery platform that proved necessary.
The Nexus Power Station achieves the desired outcome of envisioning and then bringing to life new product with strong appeal to existing customers who know and trust EGO battery powered tools. Just as important, it works to create interest and demand as a lifestyle product for customers who are yet to experience what EGO products have to offer through reliable battery power.
Financial results are yet to be determined as the product recently arrived on the market in spring 2019.