While it’s absolutely appropriate for this column to feature reviews of whiz-bang tech gadgetry such as the new AirPods Pro and the Apple Watch Ultra, those types of stories are actually few and far between. One of the goals I have for the journalism that appears here is to show people that technology, cool and futuristic though it is, is not singularly about stuff that lights up and makes noise. To wit, technology—especially that of the assistive variety—is not purely about how, for example, AirPods by any name hook deeply into system software like on iOS. It’s instructive to remember, particularly since humans exist in a physical, tangible realm, that technology can be analog too. Granted, these sorts of tools aren’t nearly as exciting as the baddest smartwatch around in Apple Watch Ultra, but they nonetheless matter. Analog technologies are deserving of recognition too.
The EEasy Lid by Consumer Convenience Technologies (CCT) is one such tool.
The EEasy Lid’s primary objective would make any occupational therapist swoon: it’s designed to assist people with limited fine-motor abilities—muscle tone and the like—open jars containing foods like pasta sauce, mayonnaise, and more. The EEasy Lid uses a push button mechanism to open, which alleviates the friction long associated with twisting a vacuum-sealed component of conventional lids. Functionally speaking, it can be more accessible for many people to use their finger or thumb to press a single button rather than contort their whole hand around a lid and turn. The latter movement takes more strength and finesse than many are capable of exerting; never mind the fact even those with typical dexterity can (and do!) struggle with opening standard lids on containers all the time.
CCT has a short video posted to YouTube demoing how the EEasy Lid works.
Brandon Bach, CCT’s president, told me in an interview via videoconference last month the EEasy Lid has been in research and development for the last eight years. Accessible packaging, he said, has a large addressable market. There are over 100 million Americans, many identifying as having some sort of disability and/or are elderly, who would truly appreciate an innovative product like the EEasy Lid. The majority of people likely would look at CCT’s gadget and deem it convenient; while this is true, it’s a mistake to conflate sheer convenience with accessibility. The EEasy Lid may be more convenient to open, sure, but it may also be a lifeline for those who can’t open things easily, if at all. As ever, talking about the benefits of accessibility and assistive technologies comes with a lot of nuance.
“We’re definitely trying to make jars easier to open [with the EEasy Lid],” Bach said of CCT’s raison d’être. “If I gave you our textbook definition, the EEasy Lid is a software design technology that reduces the amount of vacuum sealing, which makes it up to 50% easier to open the EEasy Lid jar versus a standard lid.”
Bach stressed the EEasy Lid isn’t a commercial product for consumers just yet; you can’t search for it on Amazon or at your nearest Target or Walmart. The product is currently being tested in nearly two dozen Boyers Food Market across Pennsylvania. Since launching last October, Bach said the company reported a “126% increase in sales” over the private label brand, which was subsequently removed from store shelves. CCT went through numerous designs during development before deciding on the final push-button method. One of the benefits of the design, according to Bach, is the EEasy Lid withstands shipping extremely well in addition to being easy to use. Manufacturing-wise, CCT has spent the better part of the pandemic investing in and readying what Bach described as a “state-of-the-art technology center” where the EEasy Lids are assembled.
Feedback on the EEasy Lid has been positive, with people responding in surveys saying they prefer the product over those from competitors. Bach was keen to emphasize a salient point: the abled amongst us must come to grips with the fact everyone will need help someday. Whether through conditions like carpal tunnel or arthritis, or via accident or injury or plain old age, things like the EEasy Lid makes life easier. Much of the EEasy Lid’s successes thus far has come from good old-fashioned word-of-mouth advertising, where buyers are excitedly sharing the news about the product with family and/or friends who may find it useful themselves. “We definitely looked outside to make sure that our product we were we were moving in the right direction, and that we were actually accomplishing what we were saying [in] trying to make an easier opening [lid],” Bach said.
It should be stressed CCT’s ambition with the EEasy Lid is not a pure play for utilitarianism. What’s so special about a dumb plastic lid? On its face, absolutely nothing—but therein lies the rub. It’s entirely plausible that a jar of marinara fitted with CCT’s lid that’s easier to open may be the spark that causes a person to pair some spaghetti with that sauce and feel more intrepidity towards cooking independently, thereby building on their life skills. Put another way, accessing that inconsequential jar of sauce can instill confidence in the kitchen in a similar vein to how the straightforwardness of the iPhone’s interaction model pushes someone to try more with their supercomputer of a telephone. Again, building a skillset.
Going forward, the plan for CCT is simple: keep pushing towards further commercialization of the EEasy Lid while investigating other avenues for expansion. On that second point, Bach told me the company is hoping to grow the product’s awareness globally, with grocers being interested in carrying the EEasy Lid in their stores. Moreover, CCT hopes to experiment with different size lids to accommodate different containers, as well as other aspects of accessible packaging. All told, Bach is heartened and encouraged by the reception his company’s work has garnered thus far. It portends a bright future for an organization that looks at assistive technologies in a unique way.
“We’re definitely seeing a lot of interest [in the EEasy Lid],” he said. “From there, who knows where we could go with our concept and looking at other packaging to see how we can make [packaging] more accessible and sustainable. That’s our goal. When we started this—and [this is] one of the reasons I was excited to be a part of the brand and CCT—is because ultimately we’re helping people.”
For the foreseeable future, growing the existing EEasy Lid gets highest priority.
“We’re just starting with getting the lid out into the market,” Bach said. “Then in due time, we will be looking to offer [it] for the home consumer as well.”