Metrasens, a technology company that was spun out of Qinetiq, the research and technology organisation, had developed a ferromagnetic detector to be used in hospital MRI facilities – which are highly magnetic and are damaged by the presence of ferrous metal.
Called the Ferroguard, the detector stood in pairs either side of a doorway, and emitted an infrared beam which monitored the level of ferrous (or magnetic) metal people were carrying near an MRI scanner.
Metrasens wanted to commercialise the Ferroguard, and brought in product design consultancy Smallfry to make it more user-friendly and less clunky.
The original Ferroguard comprised a pole, and a metal box containing the battery and electrics, which was attached to a platform. Lights on the box went on if someone nearby was carrying too much ferrous metal, and an alarm sounded if someone broke the beam.
Smallfry’s version has a heavy base to stabilise the machine and stop the beam being broken by accident. Meanwhile, all the electrics and battery are stored in the pole while the lights alerting users to the presence of too much ferrous metal are at eye-level.
With no extra promotional support, Smallfry’s Ferroguard gave Metrasens an eight-fold increase in turnover in its first 12 months, with it also being used as a conventional metal detector sold to prisons and schools.
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