Capstone Kick-Off

Major Progress Update

  • Created and signed team contract
  • Revised project plan and updated Research Summary accordingly
  • Conducted two field studies and interviews
  • Had one data analysis meeting (4h) and one brainstorming session (5h)
  • Composed slides for first concept presentation

It’s the first week of our summer quarter, we started our capstone studio by creating a team contract to consolidate and smoothen our team dynamics. We also modified the project plan according to the current progress and resource arrangement. In addition to these assignments, we continued conducting our field studies and interviews, and in the meantime we started to progress into ideation phase. We had one meeting on Friday to analyze and organize what we have so far and another meeting on Saturday to generate possible solutions based on the conclusions from previous meeting.

Defining Target Areas

In order to facilitate the process of brainstorming activity, we had a meeting to analyze the data collected from SME interviews and field studies and try to construct a framework to find out the areas Ambient Backscatter can fit in properly.

We started doing this by generating several attributes that are suitable to describe the items that people intend to track in our field studies and using these attributes to create a 2 by 2 framework. After trying out several combinations, we found that the attributes, “Impact of Losing It” and “Frequency of Use”, can well organize these items and group them into three main categories.

I want to find it quickly” — These items such as TV remote, stationery, and portable mouse are used frequently and people want to find them within 1 minute. You don’t want to spend a lot of time on pulling out your phone, opening an app, and then starting to track your item, so finding it in a quickest way would be an important factor for this group.

I need to know that it is safe at home — You don’t need your passport until you are going to travel abroad, and if it is missing, you will get in a lot of trouble. The items in this category are rarely used but have a great impact on your life. You probably will not actively track it frequently, but you would want to get a notification when there is something wrong.

I carry these things with me, and don’t want to lose it — Phone, key, and wallet are categorized into this group. We think a lot of existing products such as Tile, stickNFind, and Chipolo are primarily focusing on this group, and we are trying to evaluating some of these products and find out how we can improve the user experience when tracking things.


In the brainstorming session, we started to sketch our ideas based on the categories we have found in the last meeting. We produced and sketched almost 30 concept ideas and then categorized them into nine groups.

Eventually, we picked three promising concepts that are fit for our interests and also can maximize the benefits of ambient backscatter technology.

Convenience” — We are going to use auditory and visual cues to help our users find their items. In an optimized situation, they don’t even need to pull out their phones.

Ex. By integrating with Amazon Echo, you can say “Alexa, ask AB to find my key”, and users can get a voice response that indicates a right place to find the key “Your key is on the sofa”.

Security” — For those item that are rarely used but have great impact, in addition to notifying users when necessary, we’d like to provide several security modes and dynamic switching approaches for our users.

Ex. With the help of motion and proximity sensors, we can create a virtual locker. When the item is moving or out-of-range, the user would be notified.

Improvement” — For the current scenarios of existing products, we think integrating with the information from the Internet will make the tracking service more SMART!

Ex. By integrating the weather forecast information from the Internet, we will notify you to bring the umbrella with you if you leave the house without one.

After the data analyzing meeting and the brainstorming session, we think we already have several initial directions for our project, and we will continue refining them with the feedback getting from the class presentation.

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