Black & Decker Gyro and Matrix Deliver High-Tech Tool Innovation
TOM KRAEUTLER: Welcome to this edition of the Money Pit’s Top Product Podcast, I’m Tom Kraeutler. And, you know, as a home improvement expert I am fortunate to get to see dozens of new product launches each year. And every once in a while a company comes out with a truly unique innovation that completely takes me by surprise. Such was the case when I had the chance to review two new products by Black & Decker.
The first is called Gyro, which is a really fun new power driver that uses gyroscopic motion to activate the tool. And the next is Matrix, a versatile module tool system that is built around three different power bases, that delivers changeable attachments which help you drill, cut, sand and a whole lot more. With me to talk about both is Matt Nestorick, Product Manager from Black & Decker. So you’ve been a busy boy, Matt.
MATT NESTORICK: Yeah, thank you very much, Tom, and thanks for having me on the show.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Hey, it’s our pleasure. Now, let’s first talk about Gyro. Now, I gotta tell you, when our friend Todd handed me the Gyro and put it in my hand, I wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. Because in all the years that I have handled power screwdrivers, I’m typically accustomed to looking for the trigger.
MATT NESTORICK: Yeah, this one’s a little bit different.
TOM KRAEUTLER: There’s always a button that makes you start the thing. So I’m kinda like, “Uh, kinda cool looking, but what do you do with it?” And I tell you what, when you finally figure this out it’s amazing. So what the Gyro is, is a motion-activated power screwdriver. The trigger is sort of on the back of it, so when you squeeze the Gyro you actually engage the power switch. But to turn it on you rotate it. And once you start playing with this thing you don’t want to put it down. How did you guys think of this?
MATT NESTORICK: Hey Tom, we really started with the problem that a lot of our users were having, that’s really trying to get increased control when they’re trying to use a screwdriver. A lot of people are familiar with manual screwdrivers and with power screwdrivers, we just wanted to make sure that people felt like they had enough control over the application, both in speed as in direction.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Now, we’re used to motion-activation for a lot of the applications that we use, for example on an iPhone. Is it the same sort of technology?
MATT NESTORICK: Yeah, it’s a very similar technology. It’s a gyroscopic technology that we adapted from a number of different industries, and I think that’s really what makes it groundbreaking for the power tool industries. Really the first time in the power tool industry that we’ve taken a gyroscope with a lot of electronics leading up to it and really put it into a power tool.
TOM KRAEUTLER: So let’s describe how this works for our listeners, Matt. You put the Gyro in your hand, you engage the power button, which as I said is on the back of the handle, so as you squeeze it you’re engaging it. Initially it’s still. You rotate your hand slightly to the right, what happens?
MATT NESTORICK: It will go to the right. So it will change both speed when you go to the right. So the further you turn it, the fast it will go. Very similar to righty tighty, lefty loosey.
TOM KRAEUTLER: So you engage this, turn to the right, it starts very slowly, turn it more to the right and it goes full throttle. To slow it down you simply turn it back towards neutral or center, wherever you started with this. And then to reverse directions on it you simply turn it to the left.
MATT NESTORICK: Correct.
TOM KRAEUTLER: So as you say, right to tighten, left to loosen. And the more you twist it the faster it goes.
MATT NESTORICK: Yeah, I mean, we’re really excited, it’s the world’s first motion-activated screwdriver, and the key is that it controls both the speed and the direction.
TOM KRAEUTLER: So what stores will see this in, and when is it going to be in those stores?
MATT NESTORICK: You’ll start seeing it at Lowe’s, Amazon, blackanddecker.com starting October 1st.
TOM KRAEUTLER: That’s great. So it sounds like it will be a very good stocking stuffer. Do you know what the retail’s going to be yet on it?
MATT NESTORICK: Suggested retail is $39.99.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Wow. Inexpensive, very innovative, and I got to tell you, it doesn’t matter what tool you have in your toolbox, you don’t have this one, you gotta check it out. Where do you see the technology going in the future with Gyro?
MATT NESTORICK: We’ve looked at a lot of different products that it can fit on. We’re evaluating a bunch of different ones. It’s certainly a very exciting technology that people understand and get from gaming and from phones. So certainly we’re looking at all avenues to take this technology to.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Very cool, well done. We’re talking to Matt Nestorick, he is a Product Manager with the Black & Decker Company. Besides the Gyro, you guys have also come out with a new tool called Matrix. Now, this is interesting, because a lot of us are living in smaller spaces these days, and that includes the spaces that we have to take care of our tools. You basically have designed a system that has a tool base, a portable tool base, that can have a number of attachments added to it that gives you a wide range of abilities. So let’s talk about that.
MATT NESTORICK: Yeah, really what we found out with a lot of customers is that they had limited dollars to spend, as you said, limited space, and they want to get more evolved power tools, but often they were intimidated or didn’t understand them. So really what we tried to do is simplify this as much as possible so the user can buy a drill, and on that drill will come a drill driver, but then that drill driver can then detach and they can attach various other tools. So impact driver, jigsaw, sander, a lot of the tools that everyone would need throughout their house to get their projects completed.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Yeah, and not only those tools, you can also attach a router, there’s a router attachment, and even a trim saw.
MATT NESTORICK: Yup.
TOM KRAEUTLER: So this is really versatile in terms of the projects that you can tackle with this. Now, it’s cordless. What kind of battery technology is behind it?
MATT NESTORICK: We have it both in a 12 volt lithium battery and a 20 volt lithium battery. And the key for that is that it will maintain the charge. So you can put it into your drawer and pull it out 18 months later and it’ll still maintain that charge.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Yeah, and it’s also lighter. I gotta tell you, Matt, when I had a chance to review the product and play with it, it’s very comfortable in my hand. Balance is very key with a product like this, because if it’s too heavy or lopsided, or if the user has to really work to hold it up, you get tired quicker. But you guys kinda really nailed it. How much do you put into those aspects of the design?
MATT NESTORICK: Oh, they’re critical. I mean, when we’re developing products we really go back out to see how our customers are using those products. And ergonomics, balance, those are critical in terms of getting the job done for the user.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Now, where will the Matrix be available, and what do we expect the retail cost for the attachments to be?
MATT NESTORICK: Yeah, so the power units will start at $49 for 12 volt and $69 for 20 volt, and then the attachments will range from a suggested retail of $29 all the way up to $39, so really a great value there. And they’ll be available at all major retailers, so Home Depot, Lowe’s, Walmart will all support the program.
TOM KRAEUTLER: Amazon, blackanddecker.com of course, right?
MATT NESTORICK: Of course.
TOM KRAEUTLER: All right, now let’s talk about combo kits. Do you anticipate that you’ll be selling these in sets? Because it seems like it would lend itself very nicely to that.
MATT NESTORICK: Yeah, we’re definitely going to have a couple of sets available. The key thing that we looked at with this is value. So what we want to do is allow people to have the flexibility to kinda build their own combo kit. So often people might not like the configuration or need the configuration of a particular combo kit, so what this allows them to do is to buy into a system and kinda customize their own combo kits as they want and at their own pace. [7:00]
TOM KRAEUTLER: Great quality tools, great value. Gyro, the new very fun power screwdriver that uses gyroscopic motion to activate the tool, and Matrix, a modular tool system that’s going to let you tackle all sorts of projects around the house. Very affordably priced, great gift ideas for the home improver on your gift list this season. Matt Nestorick, Product Manager for Black & Decker, great job on the development of these products. Clearly they are going to be top products and we wish you the best of luck as they roll out this holiday season.
MATT NESTORICK: Thank you very much, Tom.