Device Prototyping

In the device prototyping sprint, I focused on the scenario involving pet owners attempting to limit their pet’s diets and get their pets to exercise while the owner is away. LittleBits provided a very simple and approachable introduction to device prototyping, and it only took a few minutes from unboxing the kit before I understood how all the pieces worked and fit together. Although the functionality of the LittleBits set was limited and some of the pieces didn’t work as well as I wanted, it was still a good way to visualize and prototype ideas to solve the problem. A video summarizing the user group, design question and device prototype can be found here:

An early device prototype using LittleBits

The idea I chose to focus on involves incentivizing the pet to exercise by rewarding it with food for exercising. The pet would be trained to push a button that would remotely trigger a food dispenser, so that the pet would run back and forth and get exercise while it ate it’s meal.

The main problem I encountered was getting the LittleBits pieces to function properly. My prototype utilized the IR transmitter/receiver pair, and it proved to be slightly finicky in practice. This may have been worsened by the fact that I chose to use 2 IR transmitters chained together to create a quick on-off switch at the press of a button. Most of the time, the receiver would fail to recognize one or both of the transmissions, but seeing it work a few times made me confident that my idea would work better using higher quality hardware. Next time I work with LittleBits, I won’t worry so much about the pieces not working some of the time, because the purpose of LittleBits is only to prototype not create a finished product.

Final prototype using LittleBits

Wildcard Question: What did you like about this project, and why?

This sprint involved more hands-on experience than other sprints. I think that this was very helpful because it was easier to imagine and design for a specific user group when given the ability to actually create and test physical prototypes, instead of just visualizing ideas/concepts.

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