Easy-install child safety gate
Client: Safety 1st
Dorel’s Safety 1st division noticed an irritating trend in stairway child’s safety gates: installation was always an arduous & fussy process for (assuredly busy) parents, involving multiple bags of various easily-lost hardware, tedious alignment checking & re-checking, multiple tools, & the likely possibility of starting the whole ordeal again after realizing that (despite the user’s best efforts) the gate had been mounted crooked.
They asked us to assist in developing a product that could be installed without this rigmarole, providing the end-user with a safety gate that could be installed hassle-free with as few tools as possible while maintaining all the features that had become standard in the market: one-handed operation, a dual-action latch mechanism, secure anchoring, & a no-threshold design to eliminate tripping hazards.
Internally, we set a goal of making the gate’s design as close as possible to self-assembling, treating every step between opening the box & having the thing mounted on the wall as an obstacle.
After some initial deliberation about methods of assembly and ease of use, the client focused on two possible methods of installation: a separate template that could assist the end-user in aligning & mounting the gate, or a one-piece gate, ready to screw into the wall upon removal from its packaging. We helped the client flesh out both of these ideas, developing both to a point where they could be prototyped, packaged, and tested by consumers.
With testing, it became apparent that users preferred a fully-assembled gate to a separate template. It eliminated bothersome fiddling with multiple parts & awkward, simultaneous manipulation of both a template & the components being mounted. The one-piece construction felt simple & robust, but it presented additional challenges - how could we ensure that the customer could align the gate properly on the first try without creating separate loose pieces?
Creative designed inexpensive cardboard jigs that shipped attached to the final product, using the body of the gate itself as a tool to ensure proper height and alignment. We also designed swiveling internal mounting brackets that folded flat for shipping, eliminating the need to precariously hold both the gate & bracket one-handed while trying to fasten both to the wall with the other hand. In our final design, the consumer merely removes a single piece from the box, expands it to fit the space, & screws it to the wall, using only a single screwdriver.