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The Best-Designed Products of 2014, as Chosen by Design Experts

Jason O. Gilbert

On Tuesday, Yahoo Tech picked its best overall tech products of the year so far

Now let’s turn our collective attention to the products with the best design. 

What are the sleekest, simplest, most ingenious design ideas of the year? One answer, as the tech site Gizmodo points out, comes from the International Design Excellence Awards, or IDEAs. The prizes celebrate fantastic design and are doled out annually by a panel of design experts associated with the Industrial Design Society of America.  

The IDEAs are awarded in 23 different categories, from Automotive & Transportation to Student Design concepts. 2014’s winners were sorted into four categories: Finalists, Bronze, Silver, and, the victors, Gold. 

We’re going to focus on the gold here, because we love the gold. Several of this year’s winners were either tech products or tech related; here’s a look at some of the gadgets and gizmos that design mavens found most praiseworthy. 

The LBR iiwa Robot

The Best-Designed Products of 2014, as Chosen by Design Experts

“LBR” stands for “Leichtbauroboter” (German for “lightweight robot”) and “iiwa” stands for “intelligent industrial work assistant.” That’s pretty much what the LBR iiwa is: The robot lets human workers control the robot in situations that call for automation and human-robot interaction. Not only is the LBR iiwa effective; it’s also quite sleek. You can see a video of the iiwa in action here

Square Stand

Square Stand with an iPad

You know, for credit card swiping.

The Square Stand combines a tablet stand for iPad and a credit card machine for a simple, low-cost cash register. This is a more professional-looking version of the Square credit card reader, the revolutionary little dongle that you could plug in to your iPad to turn it into a point-of-sale machine. 

Nokia Lumia 2520

Nokia Lumia 2520

Jennifer Lopez using Nokia Lumia 2520

No, Apple isn’t the only company that makes nice tablets. The Nokia 2520 might not have the sales of the iPad, but it did win points among design experts for its “bold polycarbonate unibody design” and its ability to be seen in direct sunlight. It is also endorsed by Jennifer Lopez, which can’t hurt.

Ultimate Ears Boom Speaker

Row of Boom speakers

Jawbone’s JAMBOX may win all the headlines, but the $199 UE BOOM Bluetooth speaker has turned some heads, too. Like the JAMBOX or the Beats Pill, the Boom connects to a smartphone via Bluetooth and can play music and receive phone calls. The IDSA also awarded the BOOM points for its water-resistant casing and tangle-free charging cable.

Tesla Supercharger

Car parked at Tesla supercharger

“Where does the gasoline come out?”

Well, nowhere: The Tesla Supercharger can be found all over America and in Europe and Asia and provides jolts of energy for Tesla’s electric Model S automobiles. Charging a Tesla, the ISDA noted, was “designed to be simple, intuitive and unintimidating.”

Book by FiftyThree and Moleskine

iPad image transcered to book

iPad image transcered to book

A new product from the makers of the popular Paper drawing app for iPad, Book lets artists print their iPad creations into a Moleskine booklet. The Moleskine is specifically designed to fit the iPad’s aspect ratio, so your drawings aren’t distorted, stretched, or pixelated.

Identica Blue

Identica Blue

The 3D scanner for dentists and orthodontists can transfer a physical mold of teeth accurately onto a computer. 

L-Burner

L-Burner

L-Burner

This tube that folds out into a portable gas burner is far more compact and aesthetically pleasing than your garden-variety gas stove. 

Trompe

Woman holding doll wearing Trompe

Doll wearing the Trompe
(Core77)

A respiratory apparatus to help premature babies breathe, with an adorable elephant trunk design. 

PillPack

Hand holding PillPack

PillPack ad

The startup has invented a better way to receive pills by mail. Every two weeks, you get a tear-away roll of your prescriptions, printed with the date and time each pill should be taken. 

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These are just a smattering of the products that won IDEA awards this year. Head over to the IDEA website to see the dozens of other gadgets, gizmos, and more that took industrial design to new heights this past year.

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