Design a Smarter Smart Product, Win Up to $2500 in Prizes

UPDATE (7/26): The deadline has been extended to November 15th, 2012.

Smart appliances were all the rage at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. A smart refrigerator might let you check if you’re out of eggs from the grocery store aisle. You could turn on your smart Roomba from the office and return to a vacuumed house.

But when we add short-lived electronics to long-lived appliances, the complete product’s lifespan is usually reduced to the lowest common denominator. A refrigerator could easily last 20 years—but a touchscreen embedded in the door probably won’t.

So here’s a challenge for the students among you: Can you design a smarter “smart” product? Can you make a product that is connected and wired, but also environmentally smart—repairable and designed to last, even if some of its components need to be replaced?

After our recent article about Apple’s unfixable design direction, many people told us it isn’t possible to design compelling products that are also repairable. Well, here’s your chance to prove them wrong. One idea: set up a free Dozuki site and write an iFixit-style repair manual for your product.

We are partering with design magazine Core77 and design software company Autodesk to present the second-ever Design for (Your) Product Lifetime contest. Details below. Submit here.

Smart product
LG’s new smart refrigerator


This contest is open to students age 18 or older, from anywhere in the world, currently registered in an educational institution at the college/university level.

Submission Requirements

  • Tell the story: One-page storyboard. (This can be a one-page poster/graphic or 2-minute video). Tell a story, describing your user’s experience and the problem being solved. What environmental issue are you seeking to address? How does your design solve that?
  • Solution description: Show off your design with at least 3 product images/renderings. These can be hand drawn or computer generated/rendered with Autodesk software (see Tools & Resources) or other design software
  • Describe the details: 200-300 word written description of solution, including environmental impact improvement (with supplementary details if you have them)
  • Format: All submissions must be in English and packaged as a single PDF document, or zipped folder with PDF documents, video files if relevant, and CAD files.

Judging Criteria (100 Points possible)

Design Concept (50 Points)
User benefit – How compelling is the solution? (evaluated with storyboard/video)
Environmental benefit – How much potential is there for improving the environmental impact of the design (specifically end-of-life)?

Design Communication (50 Points)
How well do your illustrations and/or renderings communicate your concepts? How compelling is the product appearance? (Evaluated with images and design files, if submitted). Those submissions that include use of Autodesk software will be more favorably judged in this section.


1st place

  • $2,000 USD
  • Pro Tech Toolkit from—70-piece tool set to fix all the personal electronics in your life
  • Oak Gerstner Toolbox—holds all your new tools

2nd place

3rd place


• Allan Chochinov, Co-founder and Partner, Core77
Kyle Wiens, Co-founder and CEO, iFixit
Dan Lockton, researcher and founder of Design with Intent Toolkit
Jeremy Faludi, sustainable design strategist, educator and researcher
Fred Bould, Bould Design
• Dawn Danby, Senior Sustainable Design Program Manager and co-creator of Autodesk Sustainability Workshop, Autodesk, Inc.
• Adam Menter, Sustainability Education Program Manager, Manager and co-creator of Autodesk Sustainability Workshop, Autodesk, Inc.