Designing the best hardware wallet for cryptocurrencies

Shift Devices, an ETH spin-off needed help in designing their new flagship product – a state-of-the-art hardware wallet for cryptocurrencies. 

Unicorn Labs already has proven itself to be successful in revolutionizing in areas related to hardware and software. But how about Design and User experience? ETH-Spinoff Shift Devices AG already launched a successful entry-level hardware wallet to store cryptocurrencies in a safe manner. The following image shows the first generation device from shift-devices, the digitalbitbox.

They needed help in designing the next standard for hardware wallets and we accepted the challenge.

Most of the available hardware wallets remind people of simple USB sticks. Newer ones consist of a display for additional security which makes the distinction between hardware wallets and USB sticks much clearer.



To tackle the design and UX challenge we got help from a professional designer participating as a breeder. During the brainstorming phase in the design thinking workshop, we realized that the devices lacked personalization. They are very valuable devices to us since a lot of money can be stored on them. Some want to show this value as a token of prestige and others just want to hide it in a pocket. Finding a good trade-off between having a common USB dongle-like device and having the super cool and good looking device is not an easy question.

Saturday started with a very intense hands-on session. First, we prototyped many different shapes of the device using modeling clay, wood and polystyrene. Experimenting with those more “old-school” materials is much faster than wasting time on 3D printers. We came up with many different ideas from wearables to big and heavy blocks. From this session, we learned, that a USB stick like shape is a very good trade-off between having something valuable you can store at home and something valuable you can take with you every day. However, we also realized that the device should come with some sort of storage box to be safely stored at home. The microSD with the backup should get a safe storage space to reduce the fear of losing it.

Next, we researched different USB sticks and evaluated their form. To add a touch of personalization we experimented with different elements such as colored rings or crowns. Especially the crowns gave the final design an unique Swiss touch since it reminds people of Swiss watches. Finally, we started working on the final CAD. We slightly varied parameters such as size, thickness, and form, 3d printed all of them for a direct comparison. Finally, we agreed on one prototype which for us was best in terms of size and handling.



The final rendering shows a sleek design being a worthy successor to the first device. There is still a male USB connector, but USB-C instead of A to make it more compatible with next-generation devices. The stick is shipped with two microSD cards, one for the backup and one as a placeholder to close the hole in the stick. The high-quality OLED display is covered by darkened glass making it appear borderless. There are no buttons but touch sliders on both upper edges of the screen. They help you to select, scroll and interact with the device. Below you will find final renderings, once the wallet with a crown and once with a ring.

With this project, Unicorn Labs set first steps in the field of design innovation. We wish Shift Devices all the best with their launch of the new product.