HCDE 210 Sprint07: Prototype
A prototype is a simple model with low fidelity of a product. We usually create a prototype to test the desirability, feasibility, and usability of the product.
What we did
This week, I did a project with my partner Aadya. The topic for the project is to design physical device for children who are learning to cook and often forget turn off the kitchen appliances.
In order to solve this problem, we came up with different types of physical reminders for the children and gradians. We used littleBits to build up our prototype. For one of them, we connect a battery, a switch, a light sensor, an MP3 player and also a speaker together. This device is aimed to play loud music to remind the children to turn off the kitchen appliances when they finishing cooking. Sometimes when the children remove the pot from the stove and forget to turn off the stove. If there is a pot upon the fire, the light sensor would not be able to detect the firelight. However, if the pot is removed, the light sensor can detect the firelight. Once the light sensor detects the firelight, the speaker would play the music.
The process of building a physical prototype by using LittleBits is harder than I thought. It was the first time that I used LittleBits to build my prototype; therefore, I had to take a lot of time to figure out the functions of the bits. For example, one of our ideas was to set up a timer for the children. Once the food is cooked, there would be a LED light turned on for reminding the children. So we decided to use the timeout bit, however, the light was turned on if the timeout bit was on. I didn’t notify there was an inverter in the LittleBits kit, so I and my partner took a long time to figure out how to turn the light on when the timeout bit was off. What’s more, the order of building up the prototype would affect the function of the prototype. If I can do this project again, I would like to go over all the functions of the bits before I started my project.
Application in the Future
Physical prototype is very useful for designers to display their physical device design ideas. It can make the concept of the design becomes more understandable and intuitive, especially some totally new design ideas. Also, the designers have to consider the feasibility, usability, and desirability when they make a physical prototype. For example, the concept of Virtual Reality is hard to explain to other people; however, the designer can use a simple prototype to explain what they are trying to achieve and try to figure out how to build up a real product though building up a prototype for the Virtual Reality.
In the future, designers would come up with more and more incredible design ideas of physical object or devices, so physical prototypes would be more and more useful for the designer to build up a model for testing. A simple model costs less money and resource for the designers to introduce and test their product. Physical prototypes can be used in the different area. For example, designers in a cellphone company can build up a physical prototype of a cellphone and see which sizes of the cellphone are most convenient for people to use. A robot company would create a simply model in order to come up with the best appearance and function of a robot.