Lighting the way in design - CTRUS football by AGENT. Strategic Intellience Embassy
red dot award: design concept
Last year, a newly established Mexican company, AGENT, received the red dot: luminary for their CTRUS football. CTRUS is an airless ball which contains electronic components that communicate factors such as kick force, travel speed and ball location. More than just to provide statistics, the football is able to provide a visual guide in the game, with light and colour suitable for the situation.
The red dot: luminary award is the highest achievement at the red dot award: design concept. In the 2010 award, it stands over 180 red dot awards and 28 red dot: best of the best awards, selected from out of 3,023 entries from 55 countries. The red dot award: design concept serves as a platform for companies, design studios and individual designers to present their latest and most innovative ideas and prototypes. From now to 10 July, the red dot award: design concept is in its final phase, submit now before it closes.
red dot (RD): What inspired the team to conceptualised CTRUS?
AGENT (AG): With CTRUS we wanted to demonstrate how a mundane product can be taken into a new direction and produce a positive impact in its context, industry, and market. Historically the soccer ball has only had incremental innovations (natural vs. synthetic skin; stitched vs. glued; etc.), and mostly superficial changes. But we wanted to explore how it can actually be taken to the next level by applying a more radical innovation: integrating technology to use the ball as the main information hub of the football game, and creating a whole new set of functions that either help the referees make more accurate decisions or provide statistics that are useful for the teams, media and public.
Other sports (such as tennis, track & field, swimming, american football, etc.) have adopted technology for several years already, but soccer has been slow at integrating technology.
Also soccer players have evolved and they have developed amazing skills through the time, the new players are faster and more agile than players from the past, so we think the game infrastructure should also be up to date and evolve accordingly.
RD: Tell us about the prototyping/manufacturing process.
AG: We are currently in prototyping and testing stage. While we run a series of prototypes to test durometer, structural design and materials, we?re also running engineering feasibility studies and developing the electronic components layout and configuration.
CTRUS is a product that requires a high investment (both economically and time wise), and we calculate that about 2 to 3 years of solid engineering and detailed design work still need to be done in order to bring it to market. We want to make sure we have a tuned up product that complies with all the official requirements of a soccer ball, while at the same time it achieves its technological goal. It should work perfectly.
While the electronics are actually a more feasible and “easy to test” part of the development, the mechanical, manufacturing, and material aspects of the ball structure are more difficult. It implies re-inventing how a soccer ball is made and this requires a lot of work.
Also, there are other aspects of the system that need to be defined as well, such as the RFID sensors at the goals and field limits, as well as the related software & firmware infrastructure.
RD: Are there changes from the original design?
AG: Yes, we are making a few iterations with changes in structural design. We need to optimize the dynamics of the ball when it is kicked and while it travels. We’re also investigating a range of materials that are the most appropriate for the highly intense mechanical activity and stress required in a soccer ball. This will impact the original design but we’ll make the necessary adjustment in order to achieve its purpose.
RD: It has been several months since the award annoucement in November 2010, are there any feedbacks from the market?
AG: We have received a good amount of press with this project. And a few companies have approached us either with commercial interest or with specific technologies that can be integrated.
On the other hand, there has been a great response and interest in the market. We constantly get inquiries about where it can be purchased, but we have to make sure the product and technology are proven before it hits the market.
RD: What does it mean to win the red dot: luminary for AGENT and CTRUS?
AG: AGENT is a relatively new company (18 months old) and the red dot: luminary award was our first award as a company. So it has motivated the team a lot and it helps position AGENT as a leading firm internationally.
The award also creates great exposure and helps communcate credibility to our clients. The red dot award has become a world known “quality seal”, so having the red dot: luminary is definitely a good starting point for a young company.
RD: What is your team working on now?
AG: On our consulting business unit (what we call PULL), we are involved in a range of different projects, some interiors and furniture, some strategic and branding work, and consumer electronics. We are working with clients in 3 continents.
On our PUSH business unit, besides the continuos effort on CTRUS, we are developing other projects in very different segments (water footprint reduction, travel accessories, house-ware, social/cultural, etc.)
RD: What are the future plans of the group?
AG: We are psyched about the response we have gotten with AGENT so far, and we are working hard in both PUSH and PULL business unit to provide solutions for the industry, society and environment.
We are planning to release soon some of the PUSH projects we have been developing and we are working to establish key partnerships for these projects.
As we gain our voice in the design scene, we are also solidifying our company philosophy and core values. Even though the design industry is becoming highly competitive we believe we have clear differentiation factors that make our work unique.