Parents have noticed all the really great technology and design that has been incorporated in the latest baby strollers. In this episode of The Lab, Daddy Clay talks with David Cocks, one of the designers of the Micralite Superlite stroller. He explains the story behind the design and the features included in this lightweight stroller. Why does the Micralite include a mesh seat? Does the increase in participation by dads account for the changes in stroller design?
Daddy Clay: Daddy Clay from the ABC Baby Show. One of the things that we've observed in the last few years of coming to this show has been a fundamental change in strollers. The technology that's emerged has been absolutely incredible. So that's one of the reasons why we're really excited today to be joined with David Cocks. He's going to talk to us about what goes into designing a stroller including one that he's displaying here this year. It's the Micralite Superlite. So talk to us a little bit about. When you went to go design a stroller, there's lot of strollers out there. David Cocks: Absolutely. Daddy Clay: What was the problem that you were designing to solve? David: Well, every stroller has its shortfalls basically. They're like cars. Some people want a station wagon. Then they want a sports car. Then they want the van. It's very hard to come up with the right solution to fit everyone's needs. So basically my aim was to come up with a stroller that was lightweight, easy to operate, did all the jobs you wanted it to do, and really take the baby through from very first days to three or four or whenever it finds its feet. Daddy Clay: One of the things that I think is unique about your stroller is also the folding mechanism. Talk to us a little about how that works. David: That was fundamental really. It actually started from basics and looking at how these things fold. We really want a one-piece fold so there wasn't lots of pieces to come take this thing apart and put it back together. Daddy Clay: Was there an Aha moment in the design of this stroller? David: Definitely. Daddy Clay: Was there a moment at which you said, "Now we've got it." What was that? David: Definitely. It's the noise. It's when you first fold it. You get that clack. Like a good expensive car door shutting. We find that when we demonstrate it now like at shows like this. You demonstrate it, you get that clack, everyone turns. Daddy Clay: Do you have a test lab? Do you put your own kids in these? How do you try them out? David: Oh yeah. Well this started with my first child ten years ago, and he was very much the test pilot for our first prototypes. Daddy Clay: Have you noticed the change in strollers and the design of strollers and do you think that this has any relationship to the change in dads participation in families? David: Oh definitely. I think the wheeled item suddenly becomes the dad's decision. And dads do look for something they feel comfortable with. Dad appreciates a little more what goes into it rather than just the fabric work. The engineering side of things. But strollers have definitely become more and more elaborate. They're becoming bigger and bigger. And what we really tried to do with the Superlite is strip it back down. Daddy Clay: One of the things I noticed about this particular stroller that is such a distinguishing feature is the seat itself. It's a mesh. David: It is. Yeah. Basically, I found with my son when he was growing up, he'd get incredibly hot in the back. And in our first design, we just did a mesh panel which sort of half did the trick. But especially, we sell to a lot of hot countries, a lot or far eastern countries. And then just the ventilation to get through the mesh is very important. And then of course you have the option of putting a liner in it if the weather's slightly cold. And also, you know how mucky they are and the biscuit crumbs and everything else. You can just get the hose out and hose the whole thing down. Daddy Clay: Super cool stroller. Thanks so much for sharing with us the story that went into the design of that product. And thanks a lot for talking with us on DadLabs today. That's all for us here from the ABC Baby Show.