HCDE210 — #7 — Prototyping
My first exposure to the littleBits kit and finally developed a working prototype
I have never used the littleBits before, and I have no idea about what is the physical computing prototype in the past. By exploring how the littleBits work and how will it help the designers to develop new ideas, I finally become familiar with the litteBits and design a prototype which helps the children who are alone at the home to remember that they have food are on cook, therefore they will turn off the oven in order to avoid burnt food or some dangerous situations that over cooking might cause.
I worked with Amanda, and we first explored what are the functions of the individual devices of littleBits and place them in different groups. By doing that, we have a clearer understanding of how each part of the system works and the different categories of devices will help us to design our prototype quicker and more efficient later. Also, we find out that the different order of the devices might have different outcomes of the system.
After exploration, we did the ideation of the topic of ‘overcooking’ and decided to design a system to warn the children to turn off the appliances who bake alone at homes. We then do the imagination of how will the littleBits work by drawing how different pieces of devices link together. Finally, we decide to have a split system in the prototype, one is for pre-heating and another one is for the normal baking.
What went well
We indeed generate a lot of ideas during the ideation. However, we as a group find out some ideas that another person come up might not be helpful and useful. The group work really helps us eliminate some useless ideas and do the design more efficiently.
The things could be done better
Actually, our imagination of how will the littleBits work didn’t totally fit what come out when we place those devices together, and then we did some alternations about that prototype and that cost longer time than we expected. It might be better for us to come up with several different ideas of how will the devices work together next time instead of only one. In that way, the possibility that the prototype can successfully work will increase.
Reflection on my experience
Through the process of using the littleBits, I got some insights in how to build up a good prototype and found some answers to the questions that I formed before start hands-on project.
How to fix the design if the plan doesn’t work?
The design which you did on the paper or in imagination might not work, so you need to find out which step goes wrong and fix it. If it still doesn’t work, it’s better to do a totally new design instead.
What kind of design will really help the users?
When I did the design with Amanda, we both came up with a question: which kind of design will really help and attract the users? Then we decided to use the MP3 device to play ‘Cookie Monster’ to warn the children that all the baking is done because the song like ‘Cookie Monster’ could easily attract the children then they will remember to switch the power off.
What might I do differently next time?
I’d like to have more ideas of how the devices will work together before I build the prototype. Also, I might have some talk with the parents and children to find out what kind of design they really want in the cooking appliances.
How could the prototyping help the designers to have a better product?
The prototyping which we did is a low fidelity prototyping, and it turns a really large system into a simple litteBits model. Through this simple model, the designers could form cognition of how will the system works. Also, the basic ideas will help the designers easily find out the problems that exist in the prototype in order to avoid the further problems that a small mistake might generate in the real product, thus the final product could be more useful and feasible.