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This project is a good example of complex mechanism design, design simplification, DFM, and safety critical design practices. Boa Technology’s flagship reel-based closure system uses a wire or lace and a ratcheting reel to close all types of boots and footwear. The noise of the ratcheting element and failures caused by environmental stress in the traditional system were unacceptable for military service. Boa Technology sought to create a silent, reliable version of the device that preserved its traditional form factor and brand. OutsideInnovation provided a solution that accomplished both and was ready for mass production.


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Removing the ratcheting component from a Boa reel is like removing the engine from a car; every other component needs to be rethought. The redesign took numerous iterations and some out-of-the box thinking, but the solution eventually produced the same Boa experience without making a sound. Beyond the reel, the manner in which the system attached to the intended footwear was also redesigned to drastically reduce the failure of the device. The final system increased reliability in every category and produced less than 25 dB of noise when actuated.


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In order to verify and validate the fail-safe reliability of the system OutsideInnovation designed the most comprehensive set of field tests ever performed at Boa Technology. Exposure to chemicals, extreme environments, impact, fire, and even ballistics were tested. A brainstorming session was also conducted with military experts to identify secondary uses of the Boa hardware. This information resulted in a convertible tourniquet, RF antenna, and numerous other alternative uses for the Boa Military Suite. Rigorous testing and engaging with users guaranteed the safety, reliability, and performance of the system during field use.



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Designing around every failure mode of a system while changing its entire inner workings is no small task. Additionally, the traditional Boa system had seen no military use so engaging with personnel with military experience was critical. Initial interviews, product testing, and in-house design reviews were all conducted with military experts input. New design features and extra up front analysis provided a significant edge in addressing the experts concerns and ensuring a fail-safe design while minimizing initial lab testing. The final product was delivered on time and was well received by prospective customers and management at Boa.

Boa Technology Reel-based closure system

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Former CEO at BOA Technology

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