Device Prototyping

The physical prototype. It’s the same sequence as the image below, except there was no timer in the littleBits toolkit, and thus there is no timer in this prototype version.

1.) littleBits was such a fun and interesting kit to use to build various prototypes. Becoming familiar with the pieces in the kit and the color coding of each piece allowed me to quickly understand what each piece was for. I learned the most initially from putting various combinations of pieces together to see how the input/output combinations worked. It would have been great if there were more input and output options, such as a timer, as not only would that have helped with the prototype, but it would’ve expanded the possibilities for experimentation.

Link to Video

The layout for the prototype, with the power (p1), followed by the input (an off button), an inverter, another two inputs (the oven door switch and the timer), and the output (a buzzer).

2.) Building the prototype after our initial experimentation with littleBits was a great experience, as we had already generated various ideas for things to prototype, before we even began working on our project. Creating a device that helps remind children to turn the oven off (with the limited inputs/outputs we had) proved to be a challenge, as in many cases, we had to envision what it might look like on a stove, rather than building an actual prototype for a kitchen. Regardless, it was an informative experience that raised many issues that we’d like to solve in the future, such as how might this work if a parent was using the oven, if the oven was purposefully left on, or if the user was deaf/hard-of-hearing and couldn’t hear the buzzer. Next time, we would take into consideration these points, and try and explore other ways to remind the child to turn off the oven, perhaps in a more immediate manner (rather than the buzzer going off after five minutes).

3.) In what ways could you gather data to improve the prototype?

In order to improve this prototype, data would need to be gathered on how the potential user (a parent concerned over their child forgetting to turn the oven off when they’re cooking) uses this product and what they’d like to improve. Beyond the improvements mentioned above (such as considering how this might affect an adult’s cooking), one of the best ways to gather this data would be from doing user research. By providing families with this device to test out and collecting data on their thoughts and opinions about it, we would be able to look at the whole of this data, and analyze it to see what similar trends arise. Whichever trends arise in things that the user would like to have improved upon would be places for the prototype to be refined. These conversations and observations between the users and the designers would help this prototype be improved to be the most desirable it can be for the end user.

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