Brief – My Friends & Other Things

You will explore the future of interactions where the boundaries between self and sensor erode and where our products are active actors in our behaviours. You will investigate the realm of “problem” behaviours like over eating, wasting energy, spending too much time on the internet, and leaving the toilet seat up. You will imagine ways of helping people change their behaviour through the design of deeply emotional products and systems. Products that we can live with, products that bring us together, products that feel like friends.

Understanding the Behavioural Problem

As this project didn’t have much scope for a deep user research phase we took on approach of storytelling and body-storming the typical journey of a Cup. We got a whiteboard together and through our own experiences we drew out a typical use case of where a cup can be abandoned. With this task undertaken we were able to identify 3 opportunities for design.

  1. The first is when a user takes the cup from the kitchen and in transit could be distracted and leave the cup down somewhere
  2. The second is on a desk or workspace where a user can consume the hot beverage and ignore afterwards
  3. The third and final is when a user has the intension to clean the cup but only gets as far as dropping it in the sink

As a group we took these 3 problem areas and began exploring or concept sketching some ideas to solve this.

You can read these in more detail on our blog post here

Concept Development

For our first presentation out as a group we wanted to present 4 developed concepts. We actively took on sketching and ideation individually to come up with as many ideas as we could. I was focusing on particularly two areas – The user who was moving from one point to another and secondly the user leaving the cup on the desk. For each idea I was ensuring to refer to emotional design principles. Could we harness any methods of design appeal or pleasurability?

Concept Presentation

To present our concepts we setup table in the studio with our 4 early prototypes from the workshop, a storyboard to support the user scenario and some initial branding/ideas.

Our first concept was Cupz. A vibrating cup that focused on the idea that after a set period of time in which the cup is away from the docking station it would begin to vibrate a few times reminding the user that it needs to be washed. Cupz personality traits were cheeky – in that it has the temerity to tell you to wash it, needy – in it is going to be bothering you and cute – in the sense that it’s like a baby that needs your care.

Cupplunk is a for those serious about keeping clean. If all cups are not placed back on the rack by the end of the day a cup is sacrificed by the retracting rods. The personality traits of this product are serious but there is also an element of black comedy to the over the top violence of it’s punishment.

Click was a concept that made your cup very much your own as the detachable arm of the cup remained attached to your keychain so only you could be using the cup at any one time. You also would have to use the product or you might burn your hand on the hot cup. The personality traits of the product would be organised as well as slightly quirky. It invites you to play with the components and customise as well.

Rolly played with form as it’s cylindrical base doesn’t let you put it down just anywhere except in the customised coster. It is simple, smart and aesthetically pleasing. It’s personality traits are friendly, playful and encouraging.

To support our concepts I developed two moodboards which captured some of the design aesthetics we were interested in and also referenced some characters which we felt best summed up our personality.

Moodboard_1 Moodboard_2

Taking on Arduino

As part of the task breakdown we decided to divide and concur the project utilising our individual skill-sets. I was assigned Cupplunk branding and design style, technical requirements the Arduino setup and production planning the video. I would also look after any after effects work.

We were keen at the beginning to have a functioning Arduino element to the project. This would build on our experiences from past projects. After consulting with Ed our Technician I was able to outline the following technical spec.

Circuit Layout

Luckily in the Arduino Starter kit there was a project call ‘Lesson 10 – Zoetrope’ which contains a large portion of our circuit design. We have used this as a basis.
Cases

The following outline the use cases we believe our circuit will support:

  • The ability to control the speed of the retracting rod
    The ability to control direction of the rod (in and out)
    The ability to automatically (time based) have the rod withdraw and thus dropping a cup

Hardware Requirements

We believe the following items meet our technical requirements:

  • DC Motor – Power Cog for retracting rod
  • 1 Cog – Potentially extracted from a scanner which will attach to rod
  • 9V Battery – Power DC Motor
  • Breadboard – Contain assets
  • H Bridge – Allow multiple directions
  • 12V Power source – Power the UNO Board without USB
  • 2 Switches – Controlling direction
  • 1 Potentiometer – Controlling the speed
  • Cabling

Software Requirements

We will be using the Arduino Starter kit project as a base for our code with some minor modifications. Taking this in to consideration the following meet our technical requirements:

  • Arduino IDE
  • Arduino Example Project 10 – Zoetrope

I quickly prototyped the Arduino setup and had it working with a simple motor and gear setup.

Video Planning and Production

As my role in the video production and planning I worked closely with Rob Clarke to go through the script he had created. We extracted all scenes and shots we needed to create in to a spreadsheet and prioritised what we would do from High (required) to Low (nice to have). The key story was important to tell but we had a limited shoot time and editing time.

We were planning to shoot the film over two evenings and one morning in the studio. The sound production would be completed over the easter break.