From the two ideas discussed in Domains and Precedents, I continued with the idea that had a personal impetus and allowed me to explore a field of recent interest.
Before diving into prototyping, it was essential to understand the focus area and identify crucial domains for research. The process began with learning what is meant by low back pain, why is it an area of concern and what are its causes and remedies.
The interesting or surprising thing was that a “mundane” low back pain could result in a serious health condition or disability. This made it important to understand what was meant by a disability and how reducing back pain could potentially avoid serious conditions. Another question was the role of wearables in improving different abilities. After preliminary research, four main domains were identified with sub-domains for further emphasis within those fields. As an individual, I felt the need for a fashionable wearable that provided immediate relief to real time back pain. The current medical aids appear bulky and give the feeling of isolation in a crowd. There was a need for a wearable that would blend easily in a crowd while providing relief as well.
The idea was to test this belief with other people. For the same reason, a primary source of research, a questionnaire was created. As part of researching on low back, some available wearables for aid were identified.
There are common prototypes of different kinds of belts and pillows or back rests for back support and the heating bags or cooling packs. More specific wearables are recent introductions like TruPosture, TENS and Quell. TENS and Quell are good examples of technology used to ease muscle pain. While TENS is applicable to any part of the body, Quell is focused on back pain. But Quell is wearable band on the leg and does not blend in with everyday attire.
On the other hand, TruPosture acts as a precedent as it is focused on back posture. It does not ease real time pain and instead improves muscle memory over a longer period. To further research, there was a phone conversation with Jason Rizzo. He is an ABC certified Prosthetist/Orthotist. He has over 15 years’ experience working in Orthotics and Prosthetics and is passionate about creating devices that enable his patients to be as independent and active as possible. He is currently working at Rogerson Orthotics and Prosthetics in Boston.
When talking to Jason, two words were highlighted during the conversation, ‘stability’ and ‘compression’. He emphasized the need for low back stability by reducing the back’s range of motion through compression.
Taking inspiration from existing belts for back support, the sketch was to envision how the brace could be enclosed in a formal attire. It was about incorporating the construction pattern of a back belt in to an everyday attire.
As part of a class exercise, we were asked to write down domains, ideas and precedents on post it notes. They could or could not be related to the Grid of 9 created.
The domains are in yellow, ideas in orange and precedents or research areas in pink. Although I am interested in all three ideas, the magnetic lock for bags was researched and a proof of concept was created as part of the previous semester’s Major Studio 2 final. Thus, I focused on the other two ideas to research a little more.
The first idea was to create a smart mirror or rather a ‘digital’ mirror, as said by David Carroll. The purpose was to explore the behaviors of early adopters, their decision-making process and their motivation to try new technologies.
Mirrors, in many cultures, represent not only the visible self or the physical representation of a being. They have deeper symbolization of being reflective of a person’s karma and spiritual self. Drawing an analogy between the karma and spiritual self and decisions and motivations of early adopters, the mirror was to be reflective of their thoughts and criteria.
The digital mirror fell under three main domains or research areas:
The mirror is about understanding behaviors, decision-drivers and motivators which differ based on individuals
Internet of Things
The technology that would be used to construct the mirror
Human Centered Design
The idea was to use this research to improve interactions of smart or digital mirrors and their purpose
Smaller domains included:
New Media Art
The digital mirror would be a technology based interactive installation to test with early adopters and draw inferences from the user testing
The smart or digital mirror exists in the research and development phase with several companies and diy mirrors are experimented with using currently available lo-fi technology. But mass production or actual use of these mirrors is not wide and accepted as yet. It would be at least 2 to 5 years before such a design was widely used as a smart home product.
The precedents for the mirror include:
Amazon Echo is a current example of acceptance for a verbal smart home device that pulls information on demand but lacks the push of information to the user without having to ask for it
Rebecca Minkoff’s store in Soho, New York
This store is a live example of how interactive digital mirrors can positively change user experience
Microsoft Smart Mirror
Microsoft’s research and prototype for a digital mirror is in the works. This mirror replicates a Windows phone screen
Ikea Future Kitchen Table
It is an example of a speculative smart home device that changes the way people interact in their kitchens and alters the cooking experience
The second idea is to create a wearable for chronic low back pain. It is a fashionable alternative that people can wear for easing pain in public environments without having to resort to wearing a belt for back support.
The idea for the wearable originated from a personal impetus. The problem of having to wear a belt for back support but not wanting to wear it as it gave the feeling of being differently abled among friends was a motivator to create a better looking alternative. It would include options for heating and cooling for immediate pain relief and posture monitoring for long term benefits.
Among the research areas, there are:
The idea is that of a technology enabled garment for immediate pain relief and long term management
Internet of Things
The technology used would be based on Internet of Things
Low back pain is a growing health concern with existing alternatives, more widely medical devices but with recent advances in specific wearables for healthcare
The wearable would be a product that had potential to serve a larger audience, beyond a personal solution. Product design was to focus on designing a more global product
Human Centered Design
The garment was to enhance human interactions with humans at the core of it.
An inspiration for the wearable is from TruPosture. It is a startup for a wearable for posture monitoring. It only focuses on posture monitoring and correction and does provide ease and relief to current back pains. It is a long term practice.
The idea is to extend this and also provide immediate relief or ease pain in realtime.
To create a fashionable alternative to provide immediate relief and long term review for millennials suffering from recurring low back pain originating from non-specific causes to be used while performing daily activities in environments outside of personal homes.
Research and Design Questions (Ranking and Grouping):
How does fear-avoidance behavior affect low back pain?
Does immediate pain relief alter fear-avoidance behavior in people?
How does low back pain correlate with psychosocial factors?
What is low back pain?
What are the different types of low back pain?
What are the causes of chronic low back pain?
How can chronic low back pain be treated?
How is chronic low back pain a disability?
What is a disability?
Can people suffering from chronic low back pain be considered ‘disabled’?
Why are medical devices for low back pain considered as aid for the disabled?
Do millennials care about people’s perception about their medical conditions?
Can medical devices for low back pain be fashionable?
What categories of professions are involved in creating medical aids for low back pain?
Do they have to wear a brace to be ‘disabled’?
Why are medical devices for low back pain considered as aid for the disabled?
What kind of non-specific causes result in low-back pain?
In what situations would the wearable solution be donned?
Can a change in appearance of braces affect the way people feel about donning them?
Do people with low back pain want a fashionable alternative to existing solutions?
What are the immediate pain relief solutions deployed by people?
Technical Means of Creation
What are the key factors considered while designing wearable solutions for low back pain?
Can the solutions be made portable into a single wearable?
Would a combination of compression and heat/cold provide immediate relief to low back pain?
What kind of fabrics are suitable for compression?
How can heating and cooling be included in wearables?
Can body heat be used as a possible solution?
Key Qualities and Value:
Combination of solutions
Low back stability
Muscle memory and posture training
Immediate pain relief
Tensions, contradictions, patterns:
People do not use braces or belts for support unless recommended by a doctor whereas, compression of the abdomen to the back eases pain easier and faster than physical therapy or the application of heating or cooling
Physical therapy needs commitment that not every millennial is willing to provide
There is awareness that wrong postures and sitting for long hours causes low back pain and while most newer solutions focus on preventing the pain from recurring, there is little done for the pain that is recurring and could be chronic
People who use the wearable should experience ease of pain and reduction in recurrence with an increased commitment to improving their body posture.
The biggest cause of low back is non-specific causes, those that do not originate from any disease or injury. Such causes are difficult to identify and hence cannot be treated. People who identify with such pain resolve to popular suggestions of physical therapy, application of heat or cold and in rare cases use of belts for support. While physical therapy helps, it requires commitment. And heating or cooling is possible only with additional devices that are not easily portable. The aim is to create a fashionable alternative that millenials would we be willing to wear as daily attire and provides the compression needed to ease the pain and if possible include application of heat or cooling in the wearable itself.
Adaptive technology versus assistive technology. in Assistive Tech [database online]. Web, 2016 [cited September 19 2016]. Available from http://www.assistivetech.com/adaptive-technology-versus-assistive-technology/.
Assistive technology. in Wikipedia [database online]. Web, 2016 [cited September 15 2016]. Available from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assistive_technology.
Cognitive psychology. in Wikipedia [database online]. Web, 2016 [cited September 20 2016]. Available from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_psychology.
Movement disorder. in Wikipedia [database online]. Web, 2016 [cited September 15 2016]. Available from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Movement_disorder.
Orthotics. in Wikipedia [database online]. 2016 [cited September 15 2016]. Available from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthotics#Spinal_orthoses.
What is AT?. in Assistive Technology Industry Association [database online]. 2016 [cited September 19 2016]. Available from https://www.atia.org/at-resources/what-is-at/.
Back pain facts and statistics. in American Chiropractic Association [database online]. Web, [cited September 15 2016]. Available from http://www.acatoday.org/Patients/Health-Wellness-Information/Back-Pain-Facts-and-Statistics.
Ehrlich, George E. 2003. Low back pain. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 81 (9): 671-6.
Elfering, Achim, Anne F. Mannion, Nicola Jacobshagen, Oezgue Tamcun, and Urs Miller. 2009. Beliefs about back pain predict the recovery rate over 52 consecutive weeks. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health 35 (6) (November): 437-45.
Freeman, David. Top causes of chronic pain. Webmd.
Gupta, Deepti. 2011. Functional clothing – definition and classification. Indian Journal of Fibre & Textile Research 36 (December 2011): 321-6.
Howell, Jared. March 31, 2015. Spinal orthoses: Use and application in adults and pediatrics. PhysicalTherapy.Com.
Jayson, Michael I. V. 1996. Back pain. British Medical Journal 313 (7053) (August 10): 355-8.
Koes, B. W., M. W. Tulder, and S. Thomas. 2006. Diagnosis and treatment of low back pain. British Medical Journal 332 (7555) (June 17): 1430-4.
Seymour, Ron. 2002. Prosthetics and orthotics
lower limb and spinal. United States of America: Lippincott Williams & WIlkins.
Tulder, Maurits Van. 2008. Non-pharmacological treatment for chronic low back pain. British Medical Journal 337 (7667) (August 23): 417-8.
Ullrich, Peter F. J. Lower back pain symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. in Spine-health.com [database online]. Web, 2015 [cited September 15 2016]. Available from http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/lower-back-pain/lower-back-pain-symptoms-diagnosis-and-treatment.
Wagner, Ward. Muscle memory and lower back pain. in Dixie Chiropractic [database online]. Web, 2016 [cited September 15 2016]. Available from http://dixiechiro.com/muscle-memory/.
World Health Organization. Disabilities. in World Health Organization [database online]. Web, [cited September 19 2016]. Available from http://www.who.int/topics/disabilities/en/.
Hailing from a business family, I did what was a logical thing to do – pursued my undergraduate in management and took the job of a Risk Analyst at Ernst & Young. In an attempt to succeed in the corporate world, I continued my education to graduate with a master’s degree in management as well. However, I remained inclined to art, having nurtured my artistic expression since the age of 8. Throughout my career in business, I also worked as a freelance graphics designer, branding and designing for multiple startups and small enterprises.
It was during my tenure at Ernst & Young, that Steve Jobs’ quote strongly resonated with me. He said, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
I came across this quote while preparing my valedictorian speech, but truly understood it when I decided to follow what ‘I love to do’. After a year at Ernst & Young, I took a few months off to create a portfolio worthy of showing and interned at a hobby art studio, sharing my love for art with people of all age groups. With the motivation to shape a passion into a full time career, I took the opportunity to come to Parsons and attain an MFA in Design and Technology (MFADT).
Bootcamp was an eye opener to the opportunities DT offered beyond visual design. I had learned the basics of coding in Java and C++ as a high school student. I enjoyed coding but did not continue with it, as I remained oblivious to the potential of these programs. Also there wasn’t much needed for coding in a management program in India.
When introduced to Processing, I understood the power of these languages in creative coding. More than creative coding, web development caught my attention. Not comprised of complicated syntax when starting to code, web is a highly accessible medium making it convenient to spread a message and communicate. In a technological world, as Marshall McLuhan said, “Medium is the message”, the symbiotic relationship of what I made and what it signifies was important to me. Identifying my love for code, I started the journey to being a creative technologist. Creating beautiful visuals was not longer a priority. It also became important to create immersive experiences for my users.
Given the opportunity to learn Internet of Things in the first semester, I found the technology that I associated with strongly. Being able to find that balance between physical creation and digital development led to a creative outburst of ideas. With understanding of the technology, I tapped on speculative design and biomimicry. Aurelia was my first complete project as a DT student and made me realize the potential of a technology used as a medium of expression. Learning about these domains also taught me the importance of conceptualization and research in the design process.
By the end of the first semester, I was improving at my coding skills and would better them with practice. To become a good creative technologist, learning to code is not sufficient. I had to learn the aesthetics of good design and better my circuitry skills with physical computing. The short projects in the second semester were opportunities to apply what I knew and learn what I aimed to.
The first semester was about identifying my interests while the second semester was for experimenting and improving. Taking forward the knowledge I had, I wanted to investigate further with the digital and physical dimensions individually. Thus, my first project was a website for book swapping. As a concept, book swapping exists and so do websites for it. For the purpose of this project, the concept was to advance existing swapping ideas and create a community of readers and literary enthusiasts. The main aim was to understand the scope of design aesthetics in an already existing web concept.
The second project was based on an impromptu brief ‘Spicy Space’. The process from conceptualizing to iterating led to exploration of the process of creating technological installations. Conceptualization and research were the easier milestones in the creative course. Iterating, prototyping and user research were the areas requiring more learning and dedication. Since the installation was a creative expression and not a problem solver, it was important to know that the users understood its purpose.
As the second semester progressed, I realized how much I enjoyed creating artistic problem-solvers combining the physical and digital realms. I call them realms and not media because each medium is a world of applications within themselves. And with the prospect of combining the two, there was no need to pick one. The third project, in the second semester, was an opportunity to maintain balance between the media. Another significant change was using a realistic design problem rather than a critical or speculative one. BagLock was a walk through the entire design process, from ideation to iteration and prototyping. It served as a proof of concept and not a product ready for the market. In the given timespan, I was able to achieve the first working prototype. The fact that I was working with technology I was comfortable with and still learning more about coding and developing using the technology made the process interesting for me.
An entire year in DT was not only about learning design concepts and technological development. It was about learning life skills as well. There was a struggle to meet deadlines, display meaningful creations, grow as individuals and excel as a team. The process of ideating and conceptualizing made research and intrinsic part of my creative practice. The need to understand your audience and include them in the development was more important than making something that held no relevance to them. Failure in DT was not a standard of competence. It was a sign of attempt and learning. The skills, knowledge and experience gained during the first year were now to be applied to thesis, an adventure we would dedicate an entire year to.
As DT students, we are always told to pick an idea before picking a technology. But what if the technology leads you to an idea? When you don’t force an idea into a technology, rather it fits with the technology of your choice like missing puzzle pieces? Internet of Things and Big Data were domains I wanted to focus on. There was a project I had proposed for Major Studio and realized it required more time, research and effort to accomplish it. I wanted to pursue ‘Data Catcher’ in thesis year and finish what I started. Data Catcher was a concept based on social login and the negatives of interdependent social media. It was an artistic piece showing the dark side of information sharing. By the end of candidacy review, I thought I was clear about what I wanted to do and had a clear idea of how to proceed.
The summer was a game-changer for me. While interning at a New York based artist studio and as an engineering fellow at Open Style Lab, I realized that I was more of a designer than an artist. As much as I liked artistic expression and critical art pieces, my focus had shifted towards solving design problems. I was increasingly interested in wearable technology and interactive design. My domains shifted from Big Data to Human Centered Design and People’s Perspectives. Although I want to continue in the realm of speculative design, I want it to be product oriented, sustainable and people inclusive.
I am not sure whether I am creating a wearable solution or a usable product. In terms of speculation, the technology will be no more advanced than two to five years into the future. The biggest dilemma as of now is deciding whether to step into the field of healthcare or to continue with progressive technology for smart homes. While both fields are advancing with inclusive wearable technology in healthcare and connected objects in home environments, each idea comes with its own set of pros and cons. With the ideas being executable, the need and desire for the ideas is also important.
I want to take the opportunity of thesis studio to create a problem solver with the aim of enhancing my abilities and bettering myself at the design process. The ideas are not inventive but are innovative. I want to create something I am proud of and know I can accomplish to achieve personal learning goals. Besides creating something for a larger audience, self-growth is also important. Self-learning, motivation, accepting failures and striving towards success are lessons I am taking from DT to further my academic objectives.
My grid of 9 is a collection of 3 concepts with the first concept in red high on form and low on tech while the third concept in yellow is high on tech and low on form. The ideas below the concepts are more like stages of iteration rather than individual ideas.
The first concept is creating a wearable garment for people with chronic back pains. It would incorporate some of the medical aids used by this group, mainly a back support belt, a heat bag and a back massager. However, this project idea would require involvement of a medical group or user group that can facilitate and corroborate the research. The need for this wearable is also a personal need. I have a chronic back pain due to an old injury that requires me wearing a belt for support. But the belt shows through clothes, especially formal outfits. With a growing number of younger population suffering from chronic back pain while being fashionably aware, I see a need for such a wearable.
The second concept is an extension of my second semester Major Studio Final. It is a seamless invisible magnetic bag lock that seals the bag from the inside and is controlled using an app. In the second semester, I completed the proof of concept by creating an electromagnet controlled by a phone app. But I would like to take it forward and miniaturize the concept and potentially make it marketable. There are many locks that exist but they all pull attention. I wanted a lock that would secure my bag without speaking for the valuables in it. This led to the creation of an IoT based lock that protects the contents of my bag, especially while traveling or in a crowded public space.
While the first two concepts are focused on solving current problems with a product at the base, the third concept is more of an art piece. The third idea is to create an interactive touch screen mirror that is used to study people’s response to seeing themselves in a public space and capturing their personalities as a way of introspecting and self-identity. Although this is a psychological concept, the idea of people having multiple personalities is interesting to me. We don’t have to have a disorder to have multiple personalities. We play several roles with certain overlapping traits, the mirror would be one way of depicting those traits and personalities in a particular individual.
I am excited about all three ideas as I have been thinking about them for a long time. The confusion lies in choosing one. While one ranks high on my need list, another ranks high on my likes list. Each of them has potential and requires deeper research to make a decision.
While applying for an internship, I was asked to give access to my Linkedin Profile to sign up. Following that, they parsed all my information based on what they needed. That made me think about the extent of information someone can access based on social login. Several questions came to my mind. These include:
How aware are we about information shared online?
How easy is it for someone to get access to your information?
What is the extent of access to user profiles through social media APIs?
How often do you use one user profile to login/sign up for another?
How can we physically represent social media existence?
While researching data representation, I realized that it all looked circular.
That reminded me of a dream catcher. The way a dream catcher filters our dreams, Big Data also filters structured and unstructured data available.
A dream catcher is a Native American concept and one of their most conspicuous symbols today. Carl Jung considers its an archetypal symbol and believes that through its contemplation, one can contemplate one’s self.
Big data is large volumes of high velocity, complex and variable data that requires advanced technologies and techniques to enable the capture, storage, distribution, management and analysis of information. One part of big data is social media analytics. It is the analysis of structured and unstructured data from social media. It is a small part of a lot of data.
Data representation is a convention for arrangement of things in the physical world in such a way as to enable information to be encoded and later decoded by suitable automatic systems. There are 2 types:
Analog representation – based on analogy
Digital representation – symbolic – finite symbols used
Thus, my research question is ‘Can physical representation of social media existence make users realize the negatives of social login?’. The concept statement is ‘I am creating a Internet of Things installation for social media users to realize the ease with which anyone can access their personal information and online activities in the context of the convenience of social login.’
For the same, I aim at using seven of the most popular social media sites:
The idea is to take input from the user and light up a dream catcher based on the amount of information received. The digital representation in binary is symbolized by LEDs.
I started with working on the Facebook and Twitter APIs. The Twitter API works. However, the constraint with the functioning is that unless the username is inputted, it finds all the people with that particular name and lists them. While twitter still manages to give some information, the remaining APIs have moved from oAuth 1.0 to oAuth 2.0 which does not allow pulling of any information without authorized access by the user. As part of installation, it is not ideal, feasible or appropriate to ask a viewer to grant access six times. They would get annoyed and walk away.
The APIs are a bigger challenge than I anticipated.
Individual authorizations for every media are time-consuming and would push viewers away
The shift of APIs to oAuth 2.0 makes it difficult to pull data without user authorization
A new access token needs to be created to access every user account and they only last a few minutes
The amount and difficulty of coding required would not allow me to complete the project by the due date
Keeping these challenges in mind, I am looking at changing my idea and pursuing a new one.
To work on a new idea, I have had to move on from most of my domains. However, I still want to work with Internet of Things. Although I am not making a physical installation, I want to combine the idea of a physical device controlled by an app, which is the essence of IoT. Thinking about all the IoT possibilities, I did not want to work with home applications as that is a widely tapped market. Doing some more research, I realized that one of the least targeted markets is an IoT lock for a bag pack.
IoT locks exist for homes but not for bag packs. There are other ways of locking bags like:
All these are external locks. They are limiting in multiple ways like pad locks can be used only with zippers, cable locks are long and exomesh fit only a certain style of bags. Mainly, they give away the fact that the bag contains something valuable. But what if there was a lock that was not visible to the eye? A lock that was internal and could be used on any bag? No new bag brand but a new bag lock. Thus, I want to create an Internet of Things lock for people to use with any kind of bag, which allows them control over the lock using a phone application in a way that can be used in their daily lives and not give away the contents of the bag.
‘How can Internet of Things be used to create a better bag lock than the existing options?’
While researching further, I realized that my focus is not to replace the existing options. Instead I want to focus on adding to the options. Thus, I changed my research question.
‘Would an invisible lock, created using Internet of Things, be a viable option to secure backpacks?’
‘I am creating an IoT lock for bag users to secure their backpacks and handbags easily and discreetly using a phone app in the context of public places.’
The focus of the project is on keywords:
Based off the concept statement, the concept is to create a physical device that can is invisible externally. Thus, there is a lock. But the lock functions on the inside of the bag. That is how the lock is ‘invisible’. It is discreet by not being visible to people. In other words, its ‘keeping honest people honest or rather dishonest people less dishonest’, as quoted by Morry Galonoy.
Physical security and access control
Physical security is security measures that are designed to deny unauthorized access to facilities, equipment and resources, and to protect personnel and property from damage or harm. Within physical security, the emphasis is on ‘alarm systems and sensors’ as the lock is to avoid theft without raising a finger at someone in a public space.
Implemented physical security means controlling access to personnel and property. The only way to access the control is by providing the right key, in this case, using the app with the right 4-digit code. The lock is the barrier to access but the alarm in the lock lets you know that the control is working.
Internet of Things
Internet of Things refers to the networked interconnection of everyday objects, which are often equipped with ubiquitous intelligence. Such interconnection transforms the objects into smart objects that can understand and react to the environment. Similarly, BagLock is taking the concept of simple electromgnets and making them smart by allowing controllability of the magnets in the hands of the user to proctect their bag contents.
Product design presents an in-depth study of the structured design processes and methods. It is a set of activities that involves more than engineering. It is fraught with risks and opportunities, and it requires effective judgement over technology, the market and the time. As BagLock is a new option for an existing market segment, it requires to be designed and presented in a manner that highlights its need and people accept it over other existing options.
Human centered design
Human centered design is based on physical and psychological needs of the human user, enabling the user to function at the highest level possible. The design has to enhance human abilities, overcome human limitations and foster human acceptance. BagLock highlights the need for discretion and easy use of locks in public places like crowded trains and subways or semi-private areas like cafes and libraries.
Design and User Testing
To make this concept a reality, I started with branding the project first. Giving it an identity makes it feel more real than just a concept. Since the idea is to lock a bag, I have named it ‘BagLock’.
Then I went on to identifying the colors generally used to depict security. Based off the color psychology for consumers in the below image, I initially decided to use green as the lock is to protect belongings considered ‘wealth’ metaphorically. However, while identifying the project domains, I changed the color scheme to blue. One of the domains is ‘Physical Security and Access Control’ and so Blue seems to be a more appropriate choice; with the color inducing ‘sensation of trust and security’.
The initial concept of the logo was a monogram in shades of green. But the first idea did not represent the idea as desired. I tried changing the structure of the monogram and added a zipper to give the feeling of a lock. But then realized that when the logo is minimized in size, the zipper looks like a blob. Then I moved on to making it look more like a lock and created the letter ‘B’ using lock handles inspired from Google cliparts of locks. But the green shades did not go with theme. And then I changed the color scheme to shades of blue to play on the ‘trust and security’ psychology of the color.
The logo I am using for the project is
The research for the product was divided into 3 parts.
Part 1 – Survey questionnaire
Part 2 – User test paper prototype of the app
Part 3 – User test digital wireframes of the app
The survey questionnaire contains questions regarding the users’ demographic information, current interest in physical security for backpacks and potential interest in a product like ‘BagLock’. The form was created in ‘Google Forms’ and distributed over social media to receive feedback on the possibility of acceptance for the said product. Five responses were recorded and used to derive a conclusion. The questionnaire did not focus on the app. It aimed at the researching people’s need and desire for such a product.
The second research phase was user testing the paper prototype of the app. The proposed layouts for the app were sketched on paper and cut out, as they would actually appear on the phone. The participants were identified from my friends and family based on the predefined user behaviors. They were not given any specific tasks but were asked to think aloud as they navigated through it. The app contains a limited number of pages, mainly four, so the focus was to see the learnability of the app if they were to actually use it. As the participants clicked or swiped on paper, the page would manually be swapped for the next one. Their interactions, mainly hand movements and gestures and vocal thoughts, were recorded to analyze and improve on existing designs. Responses of six participants were recorded for the next iteration.
The third phase included creation of digital wireframes. Based on suggestions and user responses in the second phase, the digital wireframes were created in Adobe Illustrator as a guideline for the specifications of the actual app. The wireframes were shown to a single participant. The main purpose of the wireframes was to be used as a base for developing the app rather than redesigning the interaction.
The final user test will be conducted as the fourth phase. This phase will occur after the app and physical product have been developed for functionality. The application will be developed as website that interacts with the lock over Wi-Fi using a Raspberry Pi. Based on an instructions sheet, participants will be asked to install the lock in their bag and run the app on their phones. This will provide an opportunity to make the final tweaks for the product to be ready.
Location: Online, through social media using Google Forms
Number of Participants
18 to 24
24 to 30
30 to 35
Current use of locks:
Lock to secure backpacks
Number of Participants
Potential use of externally invisible lock:
Lock to secure backpacks
Number of Participants
Use an app to control a backpack lock:
Use an app
Number of Participants
PHASE 2: PAPER PROTOTYPE
Attachment B includes the paper prototype:
Number of participants: 6
D12, Parsons School of Design
Age of Participants:
Number of Participants
18 to 24
24 to 30
30 to 35
Enter code and press submit
Swipe the zipper up to lock
Swipe the zipper down to unlock
Swipe to pull menu down
Swipe to push menu back
Click on settings in menu
Tap on options in settings for dropdowns
Adjust volume in settings using range
PHASE 3: WIREFRAMES
Attachment C includes the wireframes:
Number of participants: 1
D12, Parsons School of Design
Showed the wireframes to get feedback on layout
RECOMMENDATIONS AND SUGGESTIONS
Based on the three user tests done, the following recommendations and suggestions were received:
Phase 2: Recommendations
An alternative for the pass code could be found to access the app. This would reduce the time taken to lock or unlock
The zipper is fun as all 6 participants enjoyed swiping it to lock or unlock
3 out 6 participants expected a prompt to tell them what the zipper does
4 out 6 participants expected a feedback once the zipper was pulled to the top of the screen
The options available in the ‘Settings’ were sufficient, as they would not change much besides the volume or tone of alert and probably the passcode.
Phase 3: Recommendation
The words used as prompt could be more playful and less direct, although the play on words should not be too indirect.
3 out 5 people were willing to try out a product like BagLock if it did exist
The participants appreciated the zipper interaction
Immediate learnability of the app was high as all 6 participants new how the interactions worked, although limited prompts would ease the process
4 out 6 participants tapped the menu button to drop it down instead of sliding it to pull it down.
Attachment D includes screenshots of the actual app and sketches of the physical lock prototype:
The technology fot the physical lock includes:
The first attempt was using a raspberry pi. But due to wrong wiring, the pi was spoilt.
The second attempt was using an Arduino and corrected the wiring and the circuit worked. The magnetism could be controlled using a digital signal from the Arduino to the electromagnet.
After one successful attempt, I replaced the Arduino with the RFduino to try using Bluetooth to control the magnet. However, for the RFduino BLE module to work with the web app, I do not have adequate technology. The other limitation is that the BLE module works only with certain pre-coded apps and devices. Thus, I am using the raspberry pi and Wi-Fi to control the magnet.
The prompt for short project 2 is “Spicy Space”. Each word has a lot of synonyms, with a few standing out particularly. Namely:
These 6 words refer to ‘energy’ and ‘movement’ which signify ‘Kinetic movement’.
Kinetic movement has a lot of types, ‘interactive art’ and ‘stabiles’ being of interest to me. With the influence of ‘dadaism’ to the concept of space and spice, my theme speaks of human encroachment into the lives and lands of other creatures.
The idea is to create an interactive installation that is a combination of the mobile and stabile form of kinetic art. The base of the installation would be a city divided into 4 layers while the mobile is a bunch of houseflies. As the viewer moves closer to the installation, the city begins to rise layer by layer depicting the growth of places for people’s comfort while the increase in fluttering of the house flies shows the discomfort caused to them with the architectural development. The installation aims at making people feel empathetic towards other creatures whom they cause uneasiness to.
The idea of the installation emerged as being from the human perspective, giving the viewer a disgusting feeling seeing flies. Instead, taking the suggestion of the class, I would like to present the project from the creature’s perspective.
Further research, into creatures affected by encroachment, highlighted a certain specie of butterfly majorly affected among other creatures. The specie “Lange’s metalmark butterfly” is native to the Antioch Dunes at the southern end of the San Francisco Bay. It has been one of the most endangered species in the United States. It has declined from 250,000 in historic times to 45 butterflies in 2006. One particular fire in 1906 led to the beginning of their decline. This effect of one insignificant event has led to a significant decline in the butterfly population. Coincidently, this effect has been termed the butterfly effect.
Keeping the butterfly effect as the theme of highlighting human encroachment, my idea of an installation is modified from flies and cities to butterflies. I now intend to create an installation of a huge butterfly made up of a 100 or more smaller butterflies made from origami. This installation represents how numerous butterflies are one specie. I would then project the actual butterfly image onto this installation to show how the specie looks. When someone walks closer to the installation, the projection changes from the wings to skulls on the butterfly.
This image has been the inspiration to the projection concept of the installation. I could not have found a better way of depicting the atrocities faced by this specie due to human activities.
The main idea of the installation is the butterfly effect, making people think about how their choice of walking towards the installation has taken the color from it. The same way actions we consider insignificant in our everyday lives have a huge impact on our environment.
I am making the butterflies using origami. I experimented with 3 types of origami butterflies and asked about 8 people about their opinion as to which butterfly would they like to see in an installation. Based on their preferences I selected the center butterfly which most resembles the natural butterfly shape.
I also tested multiple types of paper in terms of their weight, feel and look. Rice paper was the most appropriate option as it has a slightly grainy texture and is really light to hold. It gives the butterflies a naturally flowing appearance. The butterflies made are of two sizes. The big ones are about 11 inches and the smaller ones are 5.5 inches. In all, the installation has 75 big butterflies and 11 small butterflies, totaling up to 86 butterflies being used. The size of the installation is about 3 ft x 2 ft.
The initial idea of the project was to hang the butterflies from an aerial suspension. However, due to time constraints and wanting to deliver a finished project, I modified it to be a wall mounting.
While the physical prototype is ready, the digital projection code is a combination of Arduino and Processing. The Arduino reads the ultrasonic sensor for proximity while Processing manipulates the projection. I am comfortable with the Arduino and the ultrasonic sensor. The challenge was to send the sensor data from the Arduino to Processing in order to manipulate the projected image. I tried two or three different codes before using the one I am now.
The projected images are:
The final projections:
The journey of understanding human encroachment led from H.E.L.L.O.C. to The Butterfly Effect.