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Tap your way to a cleaner home with Design Lab finalist Gyu Ha Choi’s Robo-Tap vacuum cleaner

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Gyu Ha, 26, is the only finalist from Asia in the Electrolux Design Lab 2011 competition.The Robo Tap is a robotic vacuum cleaner that allows you to clean up messy spots just by tapping your foot on the floor.The Robo Tap is a robotic vacuum cleaner that allows you to clean up messy spots just by tapping your foot on the floor.

Invention runs in the family of Gyu Ha Choi, 26. Growing up, he remembers having great interest in watching his father create new products and dreamed of doing the same someday.

The South Korean Industrial & Information Design student from Handong Global University is now living the dream.   Realising that a product designer has a similar job description, Gyu Ha did not hesitate to plunge into the field and its “exciting and interesting challenges”.

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Gyu Ha, 26, is the only finalist from Asia in the Electrolux Design Lab 2011 competition.

It was his thirst for a new challenge that led him to enter the Electrolux Design Lab 2011 competition. Motivated by friends and fellow students who also participated, he designed the Robo-Tap, a concept robotic cleaner capable of following the commanding foot taps of its owner to spot-clean messes in any part of the home.

The effort has paid off. Gyu Ha is the only finalist in the competition this year from Asia, and will be headed to London in September for the finals, where an expert jury comprising internationally renowned designers will evaluate his work.

His inspiration? A naughty child in a home he visited while conducting user surveys. Watching the child push over household items and making a mess was enough for him to realize how much mothers needed help around the house.    And the Robo-Tap was born.

We catch up with  Gyu Ha for more insights into his innovative concept:

Robo Tap_1 (1)

The Robo Tap is a robotic vacuum cleaner that allows you to clean up messy spots just by tapping your foot on the floor.

What inspired your design?

The idea of controlling the cleaner by tapping the floor with one’s feet was inspired by tap dance. As the user had to control the cleaner with a body part, I selected the foot, which I believed was a part closely related with user movements. After brainstorming a method for controlling the cleaner with feet, tap dancing came to my mind. How about tapping the floor using  your feet? And maybe use that to even  define the place  that needs to be cleaned?

What were the biggest challenges you encountered in creating your design?

After coming up with my  new idea for the robot cleaner, I faced difficulties in designing the form of the product. I wanted to differentiate its image with previous robot cleaners. This was because the products of Electrolux always impressed users, not only with their superior function but also through their  novel designs.

I also wished to create something that would fit the design values of Electrolux. In truth, it was difficult to deviate from the conventional form of a robot cleaner.  The round, flat shape commonly seen in previous products is actually the most suitable form for cleaning. By choosing new, unconventional forms, new weaknesses would be presented in the product, and it was difficult to remedy such faults.

Robo Tap_1 (2)

The Robo Tap is a robotic vacuum cleaner that allows you to clean up messy spots just by tapping your foot on the floor.

What’s your design philosophy or process?

There are numerous designs in the world, but not all of them are helpful to humans or their environment. It’s probably more accurate to say that a majority of these designs harm the world. When making designs, I always try to create ‘items that are essential and necessary’ as I do not wish to add more garbage to the world. Therefore, I make plans to satisfy the ‘actual needs of people’. My design process also progresses based on observations on the lives or behaviours of users.

What is your dream design project?

I want to do a project in which I can commercialize an entirely new product.  A good example of this is  a closet  by a Korean home electronics company.

This closet presented new, special functions: it smoothed out the wrinkles on crumpled clothing hung within it and also got rid of any smells or odours  in the fabric of the clothes. It was as though the closet had acquired the functions of a washing machine!

The lives of users can be drastically changed by this product. I don’t know whether this product will be liked by users for a long time, but I have no doubt that it was an innovative creation.

Which is your favourite Electrolux product? Why?

My favorite product is the ‘Vac from the Sea’ collection by Electrolux. I learned that this product was manufactured  using waste plastics collected from five oceans. I believe that this was an excellent product that allowed companies and designers to deeply think about the definition of social responsibility.

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