Core77 Design Awards
- Other Years
The Garmin inReach Mini is the smallest, lightest, and most powerful satellite messaging device on the market. The Mini has been proven to be an invaluable companion by outdoor professionals and enthusiasts alike, no matter where life takes you.
Utilizing Iridium's true global coverage satellite network, the Mini features off-the-grid two-way messaging, GPS tracking/sharing, weather updates and life-saving 24/7 SOS access anywhere in the world, all packed into a device no bigger than the palm of your hand.
Built for maximum portability and durability, the Mini gives you the freedom to roam while staying connected with loved ones, ensuring their peace of mind. From backcountry pursuits, to international travel, to search and rescue efforts, you can be certain that help is always within reach.
One of the most unique functions of the inReach Mini is the SOS feature. In the event of an emergency, the user can trigger the dedicated SOS button that sends a distress signal to GEOS®, a 24/7 International Emergency Response Coordination Center. GEOS will track the SOS signal, notify the proper contacts, and send the necessary emergency responders to the exact location. With two-way messaging, GEOS can continually stay in contact with the distressed user, updating them on the rescue efforts.
The inReach Mini can be used as a standalone two-way messenger/GPS tracker or be paired with a compatible device, streamlining and enhancing the user’s experience. Understanding that more people are using their phones during their travels, we integrated the Mini into Garmin’s Earthmate® smartphone app, giving the user access to on-the-go tools like unlimited maps and aerial views, faster messaging, and access to all inReach features. When paired to a fe¯nix or similar Garmin smartwatch, users can send and receive messages or trigger the SOS from their watch, keeping the Mini secured to their pack, kit, or vehicle.
Through a cloud-based website, inReach Mini users can plan and share future trips with specific waypoints and routes. To make messaging on the Mini faster in the field, preset messages and quick texts can be made on the website and then uploaded to the device.
When we started development on the inReach Mini, we knew that the biggest challenge would be designing a truly portable device that kept the users connected and safe during their outdoor pursuits and not hinder their performance. To achieve this would mean a significant size reduction but keeping the core GPS and communication/SOS features.
This required us to start our design efforts from the ground up. Dozens of iterations exploring form, internal component stack-ups, and interface design were reviewed. Through further refinement we arrived at a design that was half the size of its competitors. At such a small scale it was necessary for new electrical components to be designed. A smaller integrated Iridium chipset and quad-helix antenna that uses both GPS and Iridium satellite communication were designed to fit into the smaller footprint. Knowing that core users would be exposed to the harshest environments, we engineered the Mini to MIL-SPEC impact standards (MIL-STD-810F) and to be water-resistant up to IPX7.
We strategically used a rectilinear form factor and crisp chamfered transitions to keep the form as compact as possible. We also took an honest approach to the design by eliminating any visual noise, focusing on the essential functions and interface points. The grip details reinforce the rugged build of the Mini, while accentuating the button surfaces from the body. Color accents were used to highlight functional elements on the Mini.
The physical design of the SOS security door balances quick accessibility for emergency situations and security from accidental triggers. A custom carabiner and over-molded swivel webbing attachment allows the device to rest in its optimal position when mounted to a pack or on person.
The success of the inReach Mini was the result of constant collaboration within Garmin’s product development team. The team of industrial designers, engineers, and product development managers from specialized locations across the US and Europe worked over the span of almost two years to complete the design of the Mini.
Since its product launch the inReach Mini has seen steady success. It has also reached new customers that have been looking for a more portable, light-weight GPS/satellite communicator for their outdoor activities. Long distance trail runners, ultra-light backpackers, and bike-packers amongst other users are benefiting from the Mini’s portability and communication features.
The inReach Mini has also been recognized as a key innovation in the outdoor industry. It received the highest accolades from two of the major outdoor product shows, the US Summer Outdoor Retailer Show (’18 Gear of the show) and Europe’s OUTDOOR Friedrichshafen Show (’18 GOLD winner). Backpackinglight.com, a key source for rigorous product testing/reviews, information, and education for the outdoor community awarded the Mini its highly recommended + guide’s gear awards.
The inReach Mini has created a new standard for consumer satellite messengers by giving users core communication and life saving features all packed into the most portable device on the market. The two-way communication and GPS tracking/sharing have provided thousands of users and their loved one’s peace of mind. Additionally, numerous SOS-triggered coordinated rescues across the world have brought inReach Mini users’ home from danger.
inReach Mini SOS rescue testimonials:
- Two brothers hunting trip incident
- 3,000th SOS incident/rescue