The 2008 IBO Portable Instrument Awards

Gold Award

IBO’s 2008 Gold Award for portable instrument industrial design goes to GE’s total organic carbon (TOC) analyzer, the Checkpoint. According to Steve Poirier, vice president of Marketing and Sales for GE Water and Process Technologies, the main goals of the design was to create a product that was lightweight, had a small footprint and was easy to use. “The idea for the design was rooted in customer feedback, particularly from Asia. It was the customer requirements that defined the industrial design,” he said.

One of the main challenges in creating the product—the first battery-operated TOC analyzer—was designing a battery that was long lasting and did not drastically increase the weight. The Checkpoint weighs only 3.6 kg (7.9 lb), including the battery (which lasts for four to five hours). Its dimensions are 38.48 x 25.40 x 15.24 cm (12 x 10 x 6 in) and it costs $10,000–$14,000.

Mr. Poirier described how the decision to make a portable TOC tester came about: “This device is focused on pharmaceutical and microelectronics users and, from a use standpoint, there was a clear need for diagnostics applications in both of those markets. Traditional TOCs bolt to a wall at a critical point and measure that point.“ GE decided to court customers who did not want to commit to purchasing numerous devices for all critical points.

The Checkpoint’s smooth exterior is topped with a classic black handle, allowing for both easy handling and placement. The fluidics portion of the product can be seen by a slight break in the side of the casing, which opens for end-user access. The cleanliness and simplicity of the design is also evident in the panel controls and the small screen.

Silver Award

This year’s Silver IBO Design Award for portable instrument design goes to GE’s StreetLab Mobile, which uses Raman spectroscopy for the detection of more than 1,000 dangerous chemicals, including benzene, formaldehyde and various explosives.

The StreetLab Mobile’s dramatic appearance was clearly designed to visually grab the end-user. The vivid yellow and grey color scheme unmistakably fits the urgency of its use by military personnel and first responders. The product’s ruggedness is highlighted by its ridges, grooves and indentations, while the varied texture of the handle aids in stability. Made of the tough polycarbonate LEXAN, the StreetLab Mobile can withstand harsh environments and is easy to decontaminate. The system’s counterbalanced grip allows for easier carrying when on the move. One of the most interesting aspects of the StreetLab Mobile is how it permits multiple ways to analyze a sample. A sample can be inserted into the StreetLab using the vial holder, or the StreetLab can be placed down against the sample, or it can simply be pressed against a sample. Later this year, GE plans to release an attachment for identifying biological matter. The StreetLab Mobile measures 13.9 x 38.1 x 20.32 cm (5.5 x 15 x 8 in) and weighs 2.9 kg (6.5 lb) including the battery.

Bronze Award

IBO’s Bronze Design Award for portable instruments goes to A2 Technologies’ 3.17 kg (7 lb) Exoscan FT-IR system. The product comes with a loading dock for indoor use, but its lightweight and easy-to-hold frame makes it simple to take into the field. The Exoscan’s pentagonal body is mounted on a triggered handle. Its red and black color scheme makes for a striking look, a sharp difference from other portable FT-IR systems.

The grooved sides and the angle of the system’s body give it a sense of movement, and the head can be swapped out so users have a choice between a single or external reflection ATR. The system is also equipped with a PDA for data control that piggybacks on the angled edge and is held in place by a fitting clip. The PDA can be wirelessly networked with various systems for data transfer. The Exoscan measures 17.15 x 11.89 x 22.37 cm (6.75 x 4.68 x 8.81 in).

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