Week 1: Introduction to Project Embrace
Project Embrace is a little idea I’ve wanted to work on, consisting of a wearable product aiming to bring people together. This will be a weekly update of my development of the product from prototyping to pitching, to proof of concept, to manufacture. This will be my full journal of this process.
First… A bit about me
Hello everyone! I'm Scott, a designer and front end developer, working / living / playing in London. I have very little knowledge on the world of creating physical products. Although I've always wanted to give it a crack.
Only recently have I thought of an idea that gets me excited enough to start building it. So I've taken the plunge, and in my spare time, I’ll be going through this adventure that I’ll call “powering through the steep learning curve”, or PTTSLC for short.
So skills wise… I am a designer first, developer second. I believe that for this to work, the design and brand need to be truly on point. The value of this product needs to be in the beautiful design and the brand its representing. The brand will grow from the core values that this product will hold, and emanate from there.
I'm comfortable in programming. My university days consisted of many Arduino experiments. Awing at the successes of getting an LED to blink, or a sensor to print out readings always gave you the brief feeling of owning the world. I've learnt enough of the basics to plough straight into getting messy with some circuits and some soldering. So let’s go!
It’s a wearable piece of kits that lights up when someone tells it to.
Okay.. maybe that’s too short. Picture a bracelet. A beautifully designed bracelet that people want to buy regardless of technology or not. That’s key. The extra sweet bonus factor is that it DOES have some primitive technology in it. Nothing too fancy, some kind of wireless receiver (radio, bluetooth etc…), a programmable multi-colour LED, and an RFID chip.
But what does this all mean?!
I guess the best way to describe its use is to describe my vision of what I want it to do. I want to embody the idea of the bracelet to bring people together. A subtle piece of accessory that can be a mysterious yet charming reminder that we are all moving through life together. That we can go somewhere and see through subtle charms and lights that we are unified together, which can persuade us to open up, put down our phones and chat to people around you.
Use Case 1
Imagine wearing this bracelet and going to an event. As you walk towards the event (say 50 metres) away… You see the bracelet subtly start to glow. As if you have reached somewhere that the bracelet is calling out too. The light is beaming in colour directly connected to the event, and as you walk closer and closer, you see others with the same soft glow on their wrists. A sense of community. You’re all about to experience the same thing.
The RFID chip on the bracelet acts as your entry to the event. A unique code, specific to you, linked to this event and others you may attend, abolishing the need for print out tickets or awkward phone scanning.
Now you’re in, you see many others with the bracelet. Happy glows all round! Perhaps people have different charms, different designs, but all with the same colour light. You’re a unity.
30 minutes in and oh wait! The colours on yours and everyone else’s bracelet has changed… You realise it signifies that the main event is about to begin, so you round up your friends / drinks and head to the main arena. You’re seeing your favourite band. Lucky you.
Bam. Your band is killing it. You’re happy, a little drunk, and everyone is belting along to their number one song. Out of no where, you and everyone else’s bracelets around you is pulsing to the beat, creating a spectacular wave of lights throughout the arena. Wow. What a sight.
And there’s more…
That’s just one use case. Retailers and restaurants can use this too with endless possibility. All they need is the transmitter, and with it, they can light up the bracelet when customers approach the store in their brand colours. An intimate halo of welcome from their brand. Why not use the RFID chip to give these customers special discount. The customer can register their bracelet online and turn on / off certain discounts, store loyalty cards, and store payment cards. Abolishing the need for all those pesky wallet padders!
And there’s even more!
You can sell them to conferences, festivals, holiday parks, theme parks with the technology ready to go. Perhaps we can make custom charms that house this technology for specifically branded bracelets. An alternative to the ropey festival wristbands. Something you want to keep as an intimate reminder to a euphoric event.
Basically. This idea seems too exciting not to explore and try out. Phew! With that foundation of knowledge over, lets get into next steps.
The Plan & Next Step
I've sourced the materials and circuits ready for prototyping. My main aim is to get a workable prototype that I can show to others and gauge their reaction. As well as use it as a starting point to show product engineers, giving them a good cue into how to manufacture the product. All this seems a long long away, but I’ll document any updates on this journal.
If you've read this far… Thank you! I hope you stick around with the updates. Next week, I’ll document my first whip at the prototype. Expect a colourful variety of frustration, dangerous wiring, the occasional win and lots and lots of soldering.