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OFF! Is Just Off

How do you deal with bugs and mosquitoes in a muggy warm climate? Other than avoiding going outside at all or toughing it out, smothering yourself in spray-on lotion repellants seems like your only recourse.

 What are the outcome expectations? Very simply:

  • Minimize (i.e. eliminate) the number of bug/mosquito bites
  • Minimize the time it takes to ready mosquito repellent solution
  • Minimize the number of times the solution has to be re-applied to control mosquitos
  • Increase the effectiveness of the solution in repelling mosquitos
  • Increase the ease with which the solution can be applied
  • Minimize the health hazard while using the mosquito repellent solution
  • Maximize the time the solution is effective (don’t want to have to reapply, get it on clothes, have to wash hands, etc.)
  • Minimize odor from the mosquito repellent
  • Minimize the cost it takes to use the repellent

No matter what your favorite solution would be, none of them meets all the outcome expectations.

However, OFF! Clip-on bug repellant offers an alternative. Just turn the unit on, clip it on somewhere and bugs will leave you alone for 12 hours. No more bites, no more gunk on your skin, it just works!

Testing the product reveals that it is a battery-operated device that circulates an odorless repellant with a small fan. Using it reveals a serious problem though: It is not very effective. Trying to validate whether I am missing the point, I looked at other consumer reviews of the same product on Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com and Epinions.com. Here is some of their feedback:

  • “Waste of money”
  • “Does not keep mosquitoes away”
  • Headaches shortly after turning it on
  • Tongue felt funny
  • Burning sensation in the eyes
  • Clip did not work well

There is even an independent test out on ConsumerReports.org, which demonstrated that the product did not live up to its claims. The site also brought up another issue: The product packaging warns users to avoid breathing the vapor. Really? OFF! seems to function by circulating vapor. How do you use it without inadvertently breathing the vapor?

From an innovation perspective, the OFF! Clip-on used the same chemical solution to the bug repellant problem, but combined it with a different distribution mechanism. The solution appears to be, just, off! In The Innovator’s Toolkit second edition, we discuss multiple conceptual solutions using fields (based on the TRIZ Substance-Field Analysis technique) that offer solutions that would better fit all the outcome expectations held by users.