We’re all settled into our home for the month at Hax in Huaqiangbei (华强北), nicknamed ‘The Silicon Valley of Hardware,’ and the world’s largest component market, drawing in over 100 billion RMB in revenue per year.

The team has a number of concrete goals for the month, across a very broad section of the ‘creativity and innovation’ spectrum. We are ambitious, but organized.

Specifically, we are:

  • Testing the assumption that physically being in Shenzhen is a one-of-kind benefit when building innovative hardware products by designing, prototyping and producing our own ‘social hardware product’. A trash can lid that encourages recycling, cleanliness and sustainability.
  • Learning about the hardware prototyping to manufacturing supplier ecosystem through interviewing Hax members, teams and suppliers and building a simple web app for Hax, NYU Shanghai and teams to better source design, prototyping and manufacturing services.
  • Writing a number (4) of short-form articles on the SZ hardware ecosystem. Look for them on our medium.com site. Our topics include using the number of Bitcoin mining hardware vendors as a measure of the rate of product turnover (The Hashrate of HuaQiangBei) all the way to a comparative analysis of the markets of the Roman Forum, the role of 15th century entrepreneurs and the product mix of various HuaQiangBei buildings.
  • Producing experimental educational media content to support future courses and help to grow and promote the program (be sure and check out the video with Clay below).

It’s an ambitious agenda for a month, but the team is very diverse (Global China Studies, IMA, computer science and business). We also operate like a startup, we have a Slack group that automates our schedule and tasks and we have 15 min stand up meetings every day at 9am (we literally stand, in order to encourage brevity) where we ask three questions:

‘what did you do yesterday?’
‘what are you doing today?’ and
‘what do you need help with?’

Week 1 Highlights

Here are a few highlights from week 1.

Experimental Educational Content Production

Clay Shirky came for a couple of days. We explored the electronics market with the primary purpose of pushing our research project forward. We also had the opportunity to trail an innovative interview style that we plan on using to create bit-sized and engaging educational content. Our first cut is here:

The next step is to add dynamic content overlays to the video, including links to further information. Look forward to one of these a week, each highlighting personalities and perspectives on hardware and tech across cultures, genders and industries.

Smart Hardware

As part of our project, we wanted to design and build a hardware product that would be (a) possible for a group of students to create and (b) give us the opportunity to learn about as many design and manufacturing concepts and processes as possible. Our product is a smart trashcan that solves the following 4 problems we identified:

Liquids interfere with recycling. When people throw away bubble tea in HuaQiangBei, the liquid mixes with batteries and causes a toxic mixture that’s dangerous to humans. We want Encourage people to remove liquids from containers prior to throwing them away.

  • Help reduce trash overflow.
  • Encourage sustainability and reduce waste.
  • Make the process of replacing the trash bag cleaner

Given that we only have a month on the ground, we’re setting aside 5 days to prototype. In the video below, Jennifer Huang (CS / IMA, 2018) describes the foam core prototype she designed.

Supplier Sharing Platform

We are also building a supplier sharing platform for HAX members to manage their supplier manufacturer information. This platform aims to:

  • provide new HAX residents a starting point for outsourcing and contacting manufacturers,
  • encourage contribution to the existing list, and,
  • allow circulation of supplier information among HAX member.

We spent the first week interviewing teams and staff members, understanding their priorities and their challenges when finding a supplier and iterating our design hypotheses. Based the outcome of our interviews and our competitive analysis, we designed a wireframe of the application. Next week, we will be spending one to two days on user testing and iteration. After that, we will be diving into development.

Written by

A joint project between Hax and The Program on Creativity + Innovation at NYU Shanghai. June 1 - June 30, 2018, Shenzhen China

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