Device Prototyping Process Blog

This week in studio…

We worked on device prototyping, we were introduced to our materials to work with that came from a littleBits electronics kit. First off, we had to explore each part in the kit and learn how they generally work. There were different, simple exercises that we went through to learn how to use them. For example, different pieces in the kit are different colors and each color represents the input/output. You must connect the pieces a certain way for them to work right.

In this picture we were experimenting and learning how to use the pieces from the littleBits kit.

Our Prototype

To generate our prototype, we had to first define the user and their situation. The specific user we were designing for was someone who is cooking something that also easily gets distracted. Most likely, a child or teen who doesn’t always remember to shut off the cooking devices. Before actually working with materials, we had to generate ideas and think about what exactly we wanted our device to do.

This image shows some of our ideation during the process of making our prototype.

Our device was designed for an oven, it is meant to be a auditory and visual alarm that alerts the user when they forget to shut the oven off. This is useful to help prevent house fires from kitchen appliances that have been left on.

Then, we decided which of the littleBits pieces would best fit our situation and began trying different prototype options. We troubleshooted and tried many different things before we got to our final prototype. We used various pieces which included a timer, thermometer, LED light, and beeper (audio). Before getting the prototype to work we had to make sure it was properly plugged into a power source.

In the end, we created a device for an oven that will alert the user that they have left the oven on, the device will not stop beeping until the oven is turned off. It would be useful for parents to be able to turn this feature on and off, when children will be using the oven.

This was our final prototype, it has the ability to sense when the oven is at a certain temperature and after a certain amount of time, alert the user visually and using sound that it is still on.

Wildcard: What About This Sprint Intrigued You the Most?

One thing that intrigued me was the electronics kits we were using. During lecture, in the advertisement video we saw for littleBits, there were young children building and playing with these kits. I wondered if it would be beneficial for elementary aged students to experiment with these and make designs of their own? The teacher could have curriculum that teaches students a simple design process and then they could invent what they please.

How Did This Sprint Go?

Being able to, for lack of better words, “play” with the littleBits pieces, and learn more about them before going into prototyping went well. I think it was beneficial to do the sample exercises and to figure out the function of each piece in the kit. The variety of users we had to choose from was good, and the simplicity of the situations they were supposedly in was nice. Also, I wish we had even more time to read the directions/functions of each piece so that we could’ve known how to work with them even better. But overall, this sprint went well for me and I would consider experimenting with the littleBits kit again.

Reflection

In thinking about this week’s sprint, my question is if we could have made our device have more functions? I know we were limited to the materials in the littleBits kit but, possibly, if we had more time we could have made the prototype more complicated. Like I mentioned before, I would review each piece in the kit thoroughly so that I knew how it worked and how to use it properly, before beginning to build the prototype. I believe if I would have been familiar with all the various pieces before encountering our user and situation, that I possibly could’ve thought of a more creative device. Here is a link to a video that further explains the project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neiYD3-kUxw

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