In the software business and in consumer electronics, “over-engineered” is usually an insult. But we apply that term to our Wash Cube line of products, and we’re proud to do it. Because while we may have competitors, we can say this about ours:
Portable handwashing station — health department approved
One notorious example of over-engineering is also pretty recent. In March 2016, a startup company named Juicero introduced “the first at-home, cold-press juicer and juicing system.” Created with more than $120 million in venture capital, Juicero allowed users to “leave chopping, cleaning, and other juicing hassles behind, and drink fresh raw juice on demand.”
Juicero was a countertop device “engineered to press nutrient-dense, raw produce into a glass in minutes.” And as the ads claimed, it was “powerful, fast, and effortless — with zero cleanup.” The secret to all these benefits was the Juicero Pack; a flexible pouch you could order online from a menu of 10, each containing enough healthy ingredients to make eight ounces of juice when pressed by the Juicero into a glass.
Sales were slow at first, probably because of the high price of the unit: $700. The packs weren’t cheap either, at $6–8 each, and they had a shelf life of just over a week. But they were available only from Juicero, and they had to carry a proprietary digital code before the press would work. So … sales were slow, and after a few months, Juicero lowered the pressing unit’s price to $400.
Then in April 2017, Bloomberg ran a story about the “lavishly funded gadget startup.” And the accompanying video showed an anonymous Bloomberg staff member “pressing” the juice pack into a glass — squeezing the contents out by hand, and faster than the Juicero. Soon, a photo of the disassembled Juicero appeared online, proving it to be the most over-engineered product, not to mention the most over-funded, in recent memory: a $400 machine for doing what you could do faster by hand.
Still, we’re proud our Wash Cube is over-engineered
Juicero the company lasted only about 18 months from the launch of their signature product. It incurred a lot of scorn for its CEOs and the venture capitalists who bankrolled it (and who seemed as surprised as anyone to see what was actually inside it). It became a laughable example to be taught to MBA and marketing students everywhere. If you Google “over-engineered products,” Juicero is guaranteed to be somewhere on page 1 of your search results.
And if Wash Cube was right there beside it, we wouldn’t mind at all.
The fact is, Wash Cube is over-engineered — if you define “over-engineered” the way Wikipedia does: “… designing a product to be more robust or have more features than often necessary for its intended use.” It’s because we over-engineer Wash Cube that we can say it is a health department-approved portable handwashing station. And if there’s another one out there that can say that and that does everything Wash Cube does, we haven’t found it.
Why should your portable hand-washing station be health department-approved?
First, you should understand what “health department approved” means. Local and regional health agencies across the U.S. use standards set by NSF International, founded in 1944 as the National Sanitation Foundation. NSF has four divisions that set standards for food and water safety, health sciences and consumer products. Within the water safety division, the standard most widely used for clean-water plumbing products for use in homes and businesses is NSF 61, Drinking Water Systems Components.
NSF 61 is the standard the faucets in your home have to meet, in your bathroom and your kitchen. It regulates the amounts of harmful compounds that could be introduced into your water by a component of your system; substances such as lead, volatile organic chemicals, phthalates, bisphenol A and others that can be harmful if you ingest them in your drinking water.
NSF 61 is the standard we designed Wash Cube to meet. And that’s over-engineering.
Why? Because Wash Cube is for hand washing, anywhere you need it to be. There are many other products around that let you do the same thing. None of them have all the same features of Wash Cube, but yes, they let you wash your hands.
The reason Wash Cube is a “portable hand-washing station — health department approved” is that it meets the same stringent health standards as any faucet in your house; including the faucets you can drink from. In addition, Wash Cube provides heated water, anywhere, plus a touch-free faucet and a touch-free soap dispenser. So not only does it meet NSF 61, it also lets you wash your hands according the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, no matter where you use it.
We designed Wash Cube as a 100-percent portable hand hygiene station. Then we over-designed it to meet NSF 61 so that users — you, your employees and customers, your family members — can use it to stay healthy, and know that it’s completely safe.
You don’t have to drink from it.
But doesn’t it feel good to know you could?