Brainstorming on a design concept? DuPont Co. has got an app for that.
Trying to find a way to connect with designers? DuPont hopes it has an app for that too.
The Wilmington, Del.-based chemical giant is reaching out to architects and designers with the mySurface application for the iPhone, which will allow users of the iPhone and iPod Touch the ability to carry color samples of its Corian cast acrylic building material in a digital format and access it any time.
Over the last six to nine months, we've really been focusing on how people have access to the knowledge that we've got, the design information we have and the inspiration from how people are using our materials all over the world, said Tom Schuler, president of DuPont's building innovations group, in a Nov. 17 telephone interview.
Material suppliers have spent the past few years trying to bridge the gap between the engineering world of resin production and product designers who help decide how to use those resins through brainstorming sessions, Web sites and collaboration with schools and design communities.
DuPont's iPhone application is another step in that process, taking advantage of a smart-phone platform that commonly is found in the design community.
An application or app for the iPhone and its sibling, the iPod Touch, is a tool specifically designed and formatted to be viewed on the iPhone, rather than navigating an entire Internet page. Common applications include games and media sites. DuPont's mySurface application is a free, streamlined digital version of the sample box of Corian and the company's quartz-based Zodiaq material.
Using Apple's development tools, Schuler said he had a rough concept of the application he could view on his own iPhone within a week, then the company fine-tuned it.
You have to really consider what are the customers' most urgent needs, he said. You've got to be careful not to have a large download size because that's an issue, and you need it to be intuitive and simple to use.
MySurface allows users to scroll through the range of colors and looks of Corian and Zodiaq products. Users can then mark favorite samples, and scroll through photos of how other people have used the materials for wall cladding, counters, benches and other architectural highlights.
A phone number embedded within mySurface also connects users directly to DuPont to order real samples of their favorites.
While DuPont has always made traditional samples, those samples are not always available when inspiration strikes, Schuler said. With the app, designers can access the color palette without needing to carry an entire box of samples with them.
It's a question of how we can make sure that people can get the information when they want it, he said.
Corian and Zodiaq will not be the last DuPont products to get the iPhone experience. Schuler said the company is looking at other applications for other products and for other users.
Once you've got a pretty good vision of what you want to do, the actual writing of the application is pretty quick, he said. The next iteration of this is going to be a heck of a lot faster [development process]. We've got to be able to move faster to keep up with what our customers want.
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