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This Holiday Season, See Why Drinks Are About To Spill A Whole Lot Less Often

Dec 08, 2014   |   by Elizabeth Segran   |   Fast Company

Two Dartmouth engineering students, Krystyna Miles and Shinri Kamei, were blowing off some steam last year by going out for dinner and drinks. In a casual conversation with their server they discovered an interesting fact: the trusty serving tray that we have used since, well, drinks have existed, has major design flaws.

Tray Bien
Shinri Kamei '16 & Krystyna Miles '16

For one thing, serving trays force you to awkwardly contort your hand backwards, putting way too much pressure on the nerves in your wrist. "It turns out that all the waiters at that restaurant had tendonitis from carrying trays," says Miles. "They were just waiting for carpal tunnel syndrome to set in."

Then, there’s the fact that tall, heavy glasses are prone to toppling over and shattering because trays are unstable. But Miles and Kamei happened to be enrolled in a product design course, so they immediately started thinking of possible solutions to the problem. They played around with a ton of different prototypes and brought them to restaurants to see what waiters thought. Eventually, they came up with a winning design which they called Tray Bien. (Cute, no?) It is a simple round slab with holes that fit glasses and a handle, so users can grip it firmly with their hands. It is made of a light material that can withstand the industrial dishwashers that restaurants use.

Tray Bien diagram

"We wanted to make the tray as simple as possible because the standard black plastic tray is our biggest competitor and the best feature of that tray is that it is so simple," says Miles. "We knew that we couldn’t create something complicated with moving parts. It needed to be intuitive to use."

And it turns out, there’s a huge market for an improved wine tray.

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