Dunedin designers earn accolades for back device

Backpod co-designers Nick Laird (left) and Andrew Wallace continue to reap international rewards....
Backpod co-designers Nick Laird (left) and Andrew Wallace continue to reap international rewards. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Bodystance New Zealand has some ambitious targets for the future, including being a $20 million company by 2020.

The Dunedin-based company was ''absolutely on track'' to achieving its goals, director Andrew Wallace said.

Bodystance produces the Backpod, a self-treatment for neck and upper back pain, and has other other products and services in the offing.

Last year, the Backpod earned an honourable mention in the Red Dot international design awards in Germany.

Now it has been nominated by the German Design Council for a product excellence award.

That was an ''invitation-only'' accolade which placed Bodystance in a ''very select group globally'' and among a handful of New Zealand companies to have been nominated, Mr Wallace said.

The Backpod was also being launched for sale through EBOS this week, so physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths and other medical professionals would be able to buy it at trade price, he said.

Bodystance has three directors - Mr Wallace, who is an industrial designer, design strategist Nick Laird, and physiotherapist and inventor Steve August, who all live in Dunedin.

What the company was achieving globally was due to its strategic design thinking. It put design first, Mr Wallace said.

Mr Laird said it was a design-led approach ''to an epidemic most people don't see''.

Upper and lower back problems cost billions of dollars in lost productivity and caused ''misery'', he said.

Being a design strategist involved integrating design thinking and human-centred design into developing new products, processes, systems and services.

He introduced Mr Wallace and Mr August, who spent 30 years as a physiotherapist, specialising mainly in the treatment of backs and necks.

For any project, the real test of success was how the skills were integrated.

''I can't believe how helpful people are if you've got a good idea and are serious about it,'' he said.

Mr Wallace said the Backpod, which was manufactured in Canterbury, had some ''pretty serious'' design values. It was designed for sustainability, did not have any batteries, did not need servicing and it was 100% recyclable.

As well as producing ''a world-class and brilliant piece of industrial design'', the company was scalable. It could manufacture in any country in the world, he said.

Some companies in New Zealand failed because they did not ''team up''and share information with other businesses so they could collaborate and co-create design solutions, he said.


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