Device Prototyping

Working with hardware has been a long time interest of mine that I have wanted to dive deeper into. There are many popular electronic hardware kits out there made for beginners like myself. Common ones are Arduino and RasberryPi but the one I worked with is called LittleBits. LittleBits consists of various pieces and has a wide range of input/output components such as microphones, light triggers, etc.

For the purpose of learning about LittleBits, I decided to develop 3 device concepts for pet owners who have to work long hours and worry about their pets becoming overweight. After ideating and sketching to generate 3 ideas for this user group, my three device ideas were:

  1. An automatic stick thrower that a dog could bark at to play fetch with.
  2. The same stick thrower but with the dog needing to press a button for the stick to be thrown.
  3. An interactive game where a room full of laser pointers would automatically turn on a random laser pointer when a dog barks, causing the dog to see a laser on the wall and run to that location and have continuous fun chasing laser pointers.
This is an image of the prototype for the laser pointer game. I substituted the laser pointer for a light because we did not have a laser pointer in the LittleBits kit.
This is an image of the prototype for the stick throwing fetch game.

As usual, I made a video about my work:

Process Reflection and Ideation

Using LittleBits was an extremely fun way to think about designing for the physical world. A lot of the times I am designing for digital interfaces so this type of ideation was very refreshing. One thing that went well was my ability to easily understand how LittleBits. The pieces were very straight forward and the magnets helped make the process much smoother.

One thing that did not go so well was the ideation. My second idea was simply a variation of my first and not so much deviation. I think I did not give myself enough time to develop a second unique idea. I found myself getting stuck with ideas involving the microphone. They were also very simple scenarios that could have had more depth to them. In order to counter this issue, I would go back to what I learned in my exploration of Ideation and applied the 10 by 10 rule to generate ideas that had both variation and depth. Next time, I would focus on thinking about each component and how I could design a solution for dog owners using that specific component.

At what point should you switch from LittleBits to something more advanced like Arduino?

This is a question I often ask myself when trying to decide which set to invest in. I feel that it would often depend on level of complexity of what you’re trying to build but at the same time there is often overlap of the most advanced thing you can build in LittleBits that can also be built in Ardunio. For my purpose though, I would go with something more advanced like Arduino because I like to think I will get to a point where my future projects will be more advanced and require greater capabilities. Also you can code your programs on Arduino so that’s always fun!

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