Whipsaw Retrospective 2020

By Gabrielle Whelan

As much as the 2020 pandemic forced the world to isolate, shelter in place, and switch to work-from-home paradigms, it also created a heightened sense of team spirit here at Whipsaw. We learned to deal with it and thrive. We adjusted our processes and stayed busy. We didn’t let it get us down. We reached out frequently to our community in the form of webinars, podcasts, and virtual events because we’re all in this together after all. Our work this year evolved too. It included a wide range of projects that focused on the new realities and issues of the day. We delved into projects around safety, health, diagnostics, services, robotics, home solutions, and many more. Here are our top projects and awards from 2020. 

Medical & Scientific Devices

Koniku KoniKore

The futuristic KoniKore sensor uses living rat brain neurons to detect explosives, pathogens, and cancer cells. This unique, bio-inspired form with cellular pods literally smells the air around it and can be trained to detect virtually any compound. This society advancing device is now in trial phases for Covid-19 detection. We also recently designed a refresh of this product intended for mass production.

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Omnicell Automated Medical Syringe Dispenser

We set out to solve the critical issue of dispensing medications in hospital settings in this project. Our end result was an automatic quad-auger system we engineered to perfectly orient and transport syringes with minimal wasted space. Its helical augers cleverly dispense a single syringe from each of its three columns in turn.

Empatica EmbracePlus

EmbracePlus is the world’s most powerful, compact, and versatile health smartwatch. It’s used by healthcare and research professionals to remotely collect and monitor a broad range of physiological data and health conditions, EmbracePlus is the world’s most powerful, compact, and versatile health smartwatch. It’s used by healthcare and research professionals to remotely collect and monitor a broad range of physiological data and health conditions, from vital signs and sleep patterns to respiratory infections (including COVID-19). We selected a clean and stylish design that reflected Empatica’s sophisticated brand and could be worn comfortably throughout the day.

Medostic Intravenous Nutrition System

Medostic is a lifesaving system for ICU patients. Its intravenous nutrition delivery and management is used to accelerate healing for patients during their recovery process. The device precisely measures blood nutrient levels and automatically adjusts them to their optimal amounts and ratios. Our moving graphical ring interface displays what a nurse needs to know about their patient’s nutrition at a glance.

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Health & Wellness

MXXY Hydration Pack

We designed the first hydration system that features a dual reservoir system (one for water and the other for electrolytes), along with a strap-mounted dial that enables toggling between the two bags. The MXXY system ensures users receive a perfect blend of electrolytes and hydration simply by twisting a valve.

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Optimist Cannabis Vaporizer

Whipsaw partnered with the co-founder of Cards Against Humanity to create an entry-level cannabis vaporizer that is completely recyclable. Optimist offers the medical and psychological benefits of CBD through a sleek and eco-friendly form factor.


Volta SoNo

Volta is an electric car charging station that incorporates two large advertising displays which allows the charging fees to be free for the driver. Our innovations on this project ran deep. We developed a unique cord retraction system that used a large mechanically sprung take-up reel, a robust vandal-proof chassis, a cement and sheet metal housing, and a stunning perimeter light that acts as a beacon.

Uber Beacon

Uber created Beacon to make the process of riders and drivers finding each other as seamless as possible. This dashboard-mounted visual communication device features a bright U-shaped light that instantly lets riders identify their driver, even at night or in bad weather. Beacon also features an interior-facing LED matrix display that gives riders safety tips and more.

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Consumer Electronics & Soft Goods

Hisense UST Projectors

Chinese electronics company Hisense engaged us to educate the market about a new type of television that displays a huge screen at a more reasonable price than conventional TVs. These Ultra-Short-Throw (UST) laser projectors are placed directly against the wall or on top of a table surface, so users can experience a large TV image in a small space.

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Ventir Modular Backpack

Most people use one backpack for everything, and it’s usually too big for daily use but too small for an overnight trip or gym visit. Ventir is different. This modular backpack system lets users effortlessly change their bag’s configuration. Its primary “Core” backpack was designed for light days, and users can zip on up to three additional bags with ease (“Basic” for heavier days, “Gym” for gym visits, and “Travel” for overnight trips). Each backpack combination looks completely integrated.

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Home Efficiency

KODA Robot Dog

The next generation of household robots has arrived. KODA is the world’s first high-end consumer robot dog powered by AI. KODA wears multiple hats, including documentarian, security dog, assistant and companion. Our design transformed this futuristic technology into an approachable and friendly sidekick.

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TCL Zoom

Zoom is a kid’s TV remote control and movie channel with a magic wand-like feel that responds to gestures. It also features voice control and sound effects. Our playful design incorporated child psychology with an emphasis on discovery, surprise, and physical action.

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Glint Hero Lighting System

Hero is the first luminaire that lets users point light in any direction without needing to move the fixture itself. Hero’s 10 fixed LEDs shine up into a corresponding row of 10 tiny reflectors that users can move with a joystick in an X-Y axis. As the row of reflectors moves relative to the fixed row of LEDs below it, the angle of light changes dramatically without creating any glare whatsoever. Glint has been designed to disappear into its surrounding architecture. 

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2020 Awards

International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA)

Tonal Strength Training System, Gold
Cisco Meraki MV Line Cameras, Silver
Google Trekker, Silver
Glint Hero Lighting System, Bronze
Ceribell Rapid Response EEG, Bronze

Red Dot

Cisco Meraki MV Line Cameras


Glint Hero Lighting System, Platinum
Google Trekker, Bronze

International Forum Design Award (iF)

Open Path Door Readers
Tile Pro
Penumbra System
Cisco Meraki MV Line Cameras

International Design Awards (IDA)

Ceribell Rapid Response EEG, Gold
Penumbra System, Gold
Bizzy Robot, Gold

Good Design Australia

Cisco Meraki MV Line Cameras

Goldreed Industrial Design Award (GIDA)

Tonal Strength Training System
Glint Hero Lighting System

European Product Design Award (EPDA)

Cisco Meraki MV Line Cameras
Ventir Modular Backpack, Honourable Mention

Chicago Athenaeum Good Design

Glint Hero Lighting System
Ventir Modular Backpack
Ceribell Rapid Response EEG
Google Trekker

German Innovation Award

Glint Hero Lighting System