My Gap          
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WEEK #1

This week there were four assignments, two project based to identify a gap to base my project on and begin work on an idea to meet my need for the product, one to demonstrate design skills and one to identify something (an artifact) that has an impact on my life.

Assignment 1.4 Design for You

posted Oct 27, 2013, 12:36 PM by Rose Almond   [ updated Oct 27, 2013, 12:36 PM ]


An Initial Design

When designing a solution to the coffee cup problem that works for me personally I was able to break the product down into two parts the cup and the lid. 

I like the feel of the paper takeout cups. They fit nice in my car and are a good size for my smallish hands Of course these cups still tend to leak but its the shape I was focused on so I used this as my starting base and elaborated from there.


Next I looked at the design of the lid. The most common problems for me are the seals are just not good enough to prevent the liquid escaping and the screw threads trap the liquid to drip on me at a later time (like when I lift the mug to take a drink). The lid on my current mug also has the flaw that while the cup itself is thermally insulated the lid is not so is freely allowing heat to escape.

Prototyping

Using this idea, some paper cups, aluminium foil and tape I was able to build a model to see how well the idea works. Obviously paper is not representative of the heat conductivity properties of plastic but as an initial tester base it works just fine. 



I tested my model by pouring 1 cup of boiling water into both my prototype and a standard single layer paper cup and covering with a thin layer of plastic wrap to avoid spills and a foil 'lid' layer on the prototype version. I then waited 20 minutes (the length of my morning commute) and then had sip from each cup to see which was a better temperature. The foil lined double layer was a clear winner with some (very small amount) steam still coming off the liquid when the lid was taken off. This gives me some confidence that this concept may be feasible for a developed product.


Because of the complexity of the inner working of the lid and the need for real engineered materials to test the concept further prototyping of this wasn't possible just yet. That being said the use of the foil on the paper cup did show some ability to trap the heat from the top and give better insulation through pure reflection.








Assignment 1.3 Visual Expression I: The Basics

posted Oct 24, 2013, 5:35 PM by Rose Almond   [ updated Oct 24, 2013, 5:35 PM ]

Practice sketch of a chair: 







Assignment 1.2 Find the Gap

posted Oct 24, 2013, 12:08 PM by Rose Almond   [ updated Oct 27, 2013, 7:38 AM ]

This assignment suggested looking for gaps in service that affect me personally. I took this literally and spent the majority of the week actively thinking about what annoys me the most about the things I use everyday. I could just write a short bullet list, but that's not much fun or very informative as an exercise (but it is down at the bottom in case you can't be bothered reading my full post).

Gap #1: So I started off Monday morning as I do every Monday, with a coffee (I'm a certified coffee addict). I have a coffee machine that is pre-programmed to go off at a certain time everyday. There are two problems with this though. Firstly I often forget to load it the night before which means the feature is redundant since I still have to go load it and turn it on in the morning instead of finding a nice brewed pot of coffee waiting for me. Secondly, I get up about 4 hours before my significant other meaning my pot of coffee is now cold and stale for him who has to microwave his coffee (yuk). Therefore a gap exists in a coffee machine that would load itself and do two separate brews at different times so that we both get nice fresh coffee to start our weeks with absolutely no effort.

Gap #2: Having got the coffee brewed I now have another dilemma. I have two coffee mugs, one leaks and the other doesn't fit into my car's cup holder. Or rather it does fit but it wobbles (because of the top heaviness because it's a BIG mug) and spills hot coffee on my leg every time I go around a corner too fast (a little too often). The only option is then to put the coffee mug in the cup holder between the driver and passenger seats which then means I can't drink my coffee until I reach work unless I contort myself  into an awkward position to reach the coffee, which usually results in me spilling coffee on myself. I did have a third mug but I gave it away when I realised it didn't keep the coffee warm on my 20 minute commute. Clearly these mugs are inadequate and a better solution is desperately needed.

Gap #3: Tuesday I have leftover Pizza for lunch. A lunch staple in my opinion. I like my pizza crust crispy, but unfortunately once microwaved my crispy pizza is reduced to a molten soggy mess in a poor reflection of it's former glory. Add in the fact that i had to mangle the pizza slice to get the triangle to fit into the square box and it's not looking so appetizing anymore. I assume I am not alone in routinely finding this problem so clearly there's a gap here.

Gap #4: While microwaving my pizza in the lunch room I find food debris splattered all over the inside of the microwave. Kinda grosses me out and I'm tempted to just eat my pizza cold. Instead I clean the microwave before using it to make sure no unidentified particles land on my uncovered lunch (unlikely to happen but it's a random phobia of mine). Why don't microwaves have a self clean operation like ovens?

Gap #5: Tuesday night is Brownie meeting planning night (I'm a Girl Guide leader). While I find the dining table great for doing craft organisation and entertaining, it's got a huge footprint in our tiny apartment. Perhaps there's a way to make it disappear when it's not needed? We have next to no storage so folding into a closet is not an option, but perhaps it could become something else useful?

Gap #6: The reason we have no storage is because my Brownie craft supplies are loaded into my closet (loaded in the sense of throw it in and slam the door). This is because we have zero storage in our office/den area which typically looks as though a paper monster threw up. A  way to organise this area would allow me (and people with other small apartments) to reclaim the rest of their apartments- that has to be a great gap to tackle.

Gap #7: Wednesday I have my Brownie meeting which means I get home late to find white kitty litter paw prints tracked all over the dark hardwood floors. Last week I bought a special mat to stop this. It's not working.

Gap #8: Thursday I have to go grocery shopping. We have zero lunch stuffs and no coffee. Lucky me has Ramen noodles and instant espresso stashed in my desk for such emergencies, my other half doesn't. Guess he's going to McDonalds. I hate shopping, any shopping, but especially food shopping. Before I moved to Canada I used on-line grocery shopping so I never had to set foot in a grocery store. Here the alternatives for that are depressingly expensive. Perhaps there's a way to create a competitive business model or system that would help me avoid shopping again?

Gap #9: I have a pedometer. A fancy pedometer. A Fitbit One. I love it to bits (see assignment 1.1). That's the functionality though. The accessories are kinda... erm... yeah. The sleep wristband in particular is a stretchy velcroed nightmare which is super difficult to put on yourself and mine sometimes even comes off in the night if I toss and turn too much. Yes I could upgrade to the new Fitbit Force (and it's tempting since I currently have no watch either) but that's pretty expensive and I've only had my Fitbit One for a relatively short time and there's nothing wrong with it so I'm naturally reluctant to part with more money than necessary. 

Gap #10: Finally Saturday was the fall cookie sale in the subway to raise money for our Brownie camp activities for the year. Thursday was the day I realized I had no table to take and that folding tables are surprisingly expensive. $20 later I now have a (very) small plastic folding table for such events. Hopefully I'll be doing some similar things again that will warrant having this table, and storing this table and lugging this table around. Note the previous issues with storage space. 
Why is there no inexpensive option for exhibition tables that are only needed on a one off basis?

And to summarize here's the nice short bullet list in case you glossed over half way through my epicly long post:
  1. A way to load and brew two separate pots of coffee at different pre-set times to avoid stale coffee.
  2. A better way to take coffee in the car that doesn't leak, fits my car's coffee mug holder and keeps the coffee warm and fresh.*
  3. A way to take left over pizza for lunch and keep it crispy after microwaving.
  4. A self cleaning microwave.
  5. A convertible piece of furniture that will create a 4-6 person dining table when needed, but otherwise take up minimal physical space while doing something else.
  6. A solution for the un-organized chaos that is the Den/office area of our small apartment.
  7. A way to avoid or simplify food shopping.
  8. A solution to avoid kitty litter being tracked around the whole apartment.
  9. Better functioning Fitbit One accessories.
  10. A one-use lightweight exhibition table with minimal cost.

*This will be my gap.

Assignment 1.1 Good Design

posted Oct 24, 2013, 12:06 PM by Rose Almond   [ updated Oct 24, 2013, 12:06 PM ]

I never used a pedometer before but now I can't go anywhere without my Fitbit.

For such a small sleek device it has immense capabilities, allowing me to track my every waking (and sleeping) moment; helping me to increase my activity level and improve my overall health.

The user friendly on-line tracking lets me see whether I'm meeting my fitness goals and the inclusion of the social interactions push me to continuously improve (or at least to get more steps than Ricky). 

Best of all there’s no messy wires to deal with, except to charge up every two weeks. 



References:

Image courtesy of Engadget.com: http://www.engadget.com/2012/09/17/fitbit-one-fitbit-zip/

More Product details at: http://www.fitbit.com/uk/one/specs


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