Ideation: 28th of April 2017


10 sketches in 10 minutes

This week’s studio session focused on rapidly producing ideas (regardless how silly they might be) with the goal of having at least one of the ideas be the most promising out of the batch. We started out with a brief introduction to the concepts and tools to start the process, and then we were off to the races. 10 sketches in 10 minutes about improving vacations: it sounded simple enough when we first started but it felt like an immense roadblock once I actually got started. Being artistically challenged definitely felt like a bit of a blunder but did not get in the way of the essence of the activity.

After the first 10 minutes, we were then introduced to a couple of tips to help us out. I chose to focus on a small group of then: apply constraints to avoid getting stuck, use panels to help tell a story, and use labels. I was pleasantly surprised at how applying constraints to oneself helped to inspire design; this is definitely something I will be using in my own pursuits.

The Sprint

For the sprint itself, we were given a choice to either focus on accessibility or sustainability for transportation. I chose accessibility, and got to work in producing 10 more (awful looking) sketches. Below is an example:

An example of one of my initial sketches

My initial group of 10 sketches were “divergent” in that they were 10 separate ideas that had little to do with each other. I covered public transportation in buses to improving traffic crossings as shown above. Afterwards, I did another group of 10 sketches that were “convergent” in that I chose one of the initial ideas from the divergent sketches and explored 10 different variations of it. I chose to explore the idea of a wheelchair design that could climb stairs, and explored both silly and practical ideas to see what might come out of it. In the end, I settled on the following idea:

A maglev stairs to help wheelchairs move up with minimal friction

I borrowed the idea of a maglev train and thought that I could pull off a similar design with a miniature maglev but for a wheelchair instead. At first I merely drew the design and continued on with the sprint, but upon more reflection and consideration, I started to really like the idea. My rationale was that the magnet on a wheelchair or the stairs could be repurposed and made modular for whatever suits the user. It could be made to both repel and attract, and so could be used to both ascend and descend stairs. Cargo could also be attached with similar magnetic modules to assist in moving up and down stairs. While, of course, the impracticality of the design stems from the initial cost of installation for such infrastructure, part of the purpose of this entire sprint was to disregard such obstacles in pursuit of a nobler idea.

A Reflection

This was a very troublesome sprint. After the first small group of three or four ideas, I always staggered and ended up sitting and pondering what to even consider. To me, ideas were best when struck suddenly but then molded and crafted slowly over days, not churned out like an overworked factory. Yet, there is benefit in trying to see how many ideas you can come up with. There is a boldness in forgetting the practical constraints in favor of rampant creation that might eventually become an applicable concept. This rushed attitude is certainly much more relevant in the context of any kind of job; no one is going to wait for you to come up with a good idea.

To many, this might be the more interesting component of HCDE. If anything, it’s the ideas that require HCDE to bring the plan into fruition (or vice versa). I myself found that I enjoyed the practical components more (such as the interaction design with Marvel) and found this week to be difficult and almost frustrating. Hopefully, this is not something that will deter me in pursuing any further interests in the design field.