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Results of Technical Review

To view a team's prototype and provide feedback, click on the links provided below.

red therapy robot orange

HUD helmet

green swimming pacer purple horse leg cuff
blue mat cleaner silver drill bit sizer
yellow yoga mat pink vegetable trailer

General comments
31 instructors and guest reviewers attended the review. Team specific comments from Professor Wallace are below the general comments section.

Teams have shown good progress since the mockup review. The current prototypes are great platforms for testing, and they are a concrete reference point from which one can carefully design and detail a "productized" alpha prototype. In detail, the prototypes are closer to mockups than designed products, so there are still significant challenges on route to the alpha prototype and final presentation.

It is now critical to design and execute the devices as coherent, integrated, elegantly-resolved products, thinking carefully about efficient use of materials, ease of fabrication, cost and user safety, overall form, and human factors. Think about how the current designs would need to change to be comparable to a product that you can already buy. It is often helpful to look at details in related, real products for inspiration at this point in the design process.

For teams with key functional aspects or system integration issues yet to be resolved, it is very important to tackle these problems soon in order to avoid surprises a few days before the final presentation. The core, integrated functionality should be solidly resolved before the Thanksgiving break so that there is time for implementation, planning, testing, and preparation/practice for the final presentation. As noted in the lab notes for this week, it is critical to keep things moving and have your next design revision worked out before the break.

All teams should aim to have the prototypes completely ready and available for presentation practice by the Saturday before the final presentation at the very latest.

Your team will need to take a split approach during the final weeks, working on the prototype and at the same time designing/preparing materials for the final presentation. A large number of product development professionals will be in attendance and will review your projects, so it is a terrific opportunity.

The Team-specific comments/suggestions below from Professor Wallace are intended to help each team in preparation for the next design revision. Please consider these comments before setting priorities before the holiday, and feel free to ask if there are questions. I hope to discuss design details more when we meet on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday this week to talk about your presentation setup. Please contact Professor Wallace to schedule a time for your team.

You will also receive written comments from individual instructors before your lab or by Wednesday morning (whichever is first). The average score for each prototype, with standard deviations, is at the bottom of the page.

Team-specific comments and suggestions
red, green, blue, yellow, orange, purple, silver, pink

Red:Therapy robot
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A lot of solid work and progress has taken place, and your list of issues and priorities is thoughtful. The challenge is that you have many functions, most of which are working but not quite as hoped. Now, it is important to really focus on a minimum set of key functions for a reasonable/viable product and really nail them rather than chasing a diffuse feature set. Also, ultimately, it seems like the device needs to be as visually compelling as a conventional stuffed toy.

Some additional examples of issues to consider are:

  • having a back drivable device is important. In general, robustness and ability to withstand abuse is important in this product.
  • the issue getting the device to work standalone on batteries should be tackled right away.
  • for the capacitive sensors: Would buying rather than building help? Are touch sensors in other commercial toys appropriate?
  • many of the motions seemed very small and subtle. Are these motions sufficient? Can you test this? In general, until one tests different motions and at least qualitatively validates user responses, how the device behaves will seem somewhat arbitrary.
  • Eye details seem like they will be important. I wonder if blank, expressionless eyes are appropriate.
  • think about how the toy feels to hold and hug.
  • A good effort was made working on the patterns. Gail Cormier can likely help with sewing methods.

Green: Swimming pacer
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Impressive progress has been made and the UI development has also been very good. Assessment from reviewers suffered because they could not see it working, but it is more important that a lot of progress has been made.

Some additional thought are:

  • aim to have printed circuit boards and soldered assemblies in your prototype. Avoid breadboard-like implementations because they are very unrobust under use, and you can almost count on something going wrong after the device is moved around or bumped.
  • the overall UI is coming along nicely. Some graphic design detailing will help with the display, and more product-like detailing of the waterproof buttons will help the prototype read as a real product
  • consider the overall form/package of your product. The GoPro case look might be a good direction, but it can be further refined.
  • Focus on your core function and get it to work really well. Flat bottom pools, or with different depths at each end and a line between seem to be a good compromise at this point.
  • to help with resolution issues, perhaps project a line, say 1-2 feet long, rather than a dot. This might help keep a uniform image over a wider range of distances.
  • the magnetic suction cup idea is compelling, but seems like the approach still needs refinement to work well.
  • an option to program pace changes as a function of lap number might allow your product to be used by a wider range of swimmers, not just constant pace distance swimming.


Blue: Mat cleaner
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When all the subsystems are working together, it seems like the device is accomplishing what it should, which is great. In order to make it reliable, it is really important to now take this mockup to the next level of design detailing and execution. You will want to isolate/mount electronics from wet components (either through potting or physical enclosures). Wiring harness and designed wiring routing and restraints are needed, and you definitely will want only soldered boards (not protoboards) in the device. You will also want to have mounting points for mechanical hardware, etc. Now that there is a clearer picture of what is in the device, it will be more manageable to think all the details through. It might be helpful to look at the insides of some existing products for inspiration.

I would be happy to think through some of these details with you, if you wish.

Some other suggestions and thoughts follow:

  • think carefully about the overall integration of the product. Develop an overall coherent form and think carefully about how the user interface integrates with the form, giving more prominence to frequent types of information, and lesser prominence to infrequent information (e.g. a burnt out bulb).
  • the "finger" contact switches seem fragile. I wonder about having the wheels be slightly spring-loaded and a micro switch above each wheel, so only when each wheel carries a load will it be on. This would allow the sensors to be fully enclosed in the device.
  • Larger diameter and slightly fatter wheels would help it move on the mat more easily. Omni wheels are nice, but seem like they will trap dirt. Perhaps another route would be to make a special cart for the device for moving it for longer distances. Cart can be narrow. Would also keep wheels clean and protect the bulbs.
  • management of power cord would be good to address. .
  • microfiber seems like it is a bit awkward to remove. If the tray/mount for the fiber was flexible, one could bend it up as it is pulled out.
  • it seems like the handle could be simplified. There might be nicer ways to embed the switches in the hand to engage the steam.
  • it is a bit confusing that the warning sound for everything is the same. It might help to have different types of sounds for different issues, with more alarming tones being used for things one really does not want the user to do.
  • it might be more reliable and cleaner to buy encoders to determine how fast the device is being pushed rather than building your own.


Yellow: Yoga mat
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Really good progress on the mat fabrication methods have been made, and the overall lighting effect is really quite nice. As mentioned to some team members, I think that it will be possible to control this thickness so the brightness of all LEDs is similar. One of the key steps to making it reliable will be to move away from breadboards to printed circuits and soldered boards with designed mounting points. Breadboard circuits in real use environments are notoriously unreliable. I am happy to think through the electronics enclosure/mounting points or other details with you, if you wish.

Some other thoughts and suggestions follow:

  • the finish of the edge of the mat is a bit rough. I wonder about using an opaque/colored silicone in the core around the perimeter to create a nice detail.
  • with the flexible mat, I think that most users will still try to roll it up, which will almost certainly ruin the device. Given this, it seems like it would make sense to think about a trifold design, especially given there will be 3 force sensor pads in the mat. That way, the parts that you don't want rolled could actually be stiffer so they can't be rolled, and expectations for how to store the mat are quite clear.
  • some graphic design/grid layout concepts for the UI would improve the instructional software. Also, many of the instructions seem text heavy. They might be streamlined and the use of graphics might cover many of the points concisely.
  • I think that instructional videos should be filmed in front of a seamless backdrop so that the videos are clean and uncluttered (can arrange access if you are interested).
  • now that you have something, can you reassess what people are willing to pay. I suspect your number is low.
  • the color mapping for too much/too little pressure was not clear. Perhaps use more distinct and obvious colors.
  • it seems like your overall user experience/use model would benefit from further exploration. You want to have a very strong and compelling use scenario. There were times when it was not clear to me how the patterns on the mat might map to an arm stretch type of activity.
  • being tethered to a laptop seems a bit unclean. It would be nice if one could use it in "do" mode as a standalone device.

Orange:Head's up helmet
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The new display seems quite bright and crisp, which is great. That said, it is a real concern that there does not seem to have been a lot of movement on the overall product's design— things seem not overly different from the mockup review. Overall product/concept integration, dealing with weather elements and minor abuse, and mounting to the helmet seem up in the air. These are not small ME challenges. Additionally, it was not clear if the wireless communication aspects of the product have been prototyped yet so please jump on these issues right away.

Some other thoughts follow:

  • it seems like the brightness of the display would need to change (automatically?) as a function of the ambient lighting level. It was not clear if brightness was being addressed.
  • it was quite interesting to ride the scooter with the low resolution display. One definitely needed to change focus, and could not look at both the road and the display at the same time.
  • if you can write a specification for the information one would want to receive from a GPS map application we can look into finding a programming resource to address this aspect.

Purple: Horse leg cuff
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Overall the data from the device looks to be quite clear and repeatable, which is great. To be reliable, you now really want to move your implementation from a breadboard level to using printed circuits and soldered boards. Try to get an early start on this.

Some other thoughts and suggestions are below.

  • it seems that there is a lot of interest in injury detection in addition to warm up detection. It would be good to make it clear how you might start with warm up and ultimately gather data to predict injury.
  • feathering the edge of the silicone electronics potting in the cuff would reduce the likelihood of it bothering a horse's leg.
  • a wood charger stand is fine, but you still want it to reflect that it is part of a many hundreds of dollars device. I am happy to discuss design details with you.
  • My preference is for induction charging. The posts for the cuffs could be leg shaped so that they are consistently positioned on the charging station.
  • is there a way that the UI could more intuitively give a sense for which leg is which? (the current square shape is ambiguous). The new armband approach should give you the real estate to explore other layouts/representations.


Silver: Drill bit sizer
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Exploring the different measurement methods was quite useful, and it seems that after the review today you have the information to see what challenges the different approaches present. Based on the experiments today it seems like you have the information needed to make an informed decision about which technology to use. Time is tight so you want to make this decision and move to others without delay. In your final implementation, you want to be using soldered circuit boards with well-detailed component mounting points.

A few other comments are:

  • consider using open source libraries, such as python libraries to support your image processing requirements. They libraries might use more efficient algorithms for quickly measuring the bits.
  • the overall enclosure design shows promise, but there are many areas of detailing that might be refined. I would be happy to meet with you to discuss aspects of this.
  • chose the buttons carefully for the product. You would like to have the buttons integrate nicely with the product.


Pink: Veggie trailer
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The trailer handled pretty well behind the bike, and a clear picture of what the main pieces are within the product is now in place. This is good! That said, the construction of the current prototype is erector-set like, with many joints, fasteners and pieces that would make it a very expensive, low reliability, and difficult to clean product. However, you are now in a very good position to redesign and achieve a very nice, clean, and useable product. If you are interested, I would be more than happy to think though possible simplifications of several details with you. Just let me know.

Some additional notes follow:

  • in looking at your design, I can envision how the existing structure/overall topology could become quite minimal, and perhaps even have the imagery of a grocery cart... which might be fun. This is something that we might discuss/sketch about together.
  • the base trailer platform was very useful for putting this model together, but could readily be eliminated with your current architecture, significantly lowering the cost of the product.
  • the lid details could be refined, and should be damped so that they cannot fall and injure people.
  • it would be nice to design the table to fit the aesthetic/form of the overall design
  • will the cash box be integral to the frame?
  • one can envision a U-shaped piece that folds down over each side of the rear wheel to stand the bike when in "store mode". It could also be the trailer feet—so that one does not need to crawl under the trailer to deploy the legs on the current prototype. Would be happy to sketch some possibilities with you.
  • it seems like braking downhill would be a concern. It might make sense to spec a minimum brake pad quality or recommend bike disk brakes for bicycles to be used with the trailer.
  • the current telescoping design for the canopy seems to bind easily.
  • cleaning is important. I wonder about a design where all the containers are mesh fabric, and everything pops off and could even go in the laundry, with just the frame fully exposed to be washed.
  • the hooks for all the bags are a bit of a hazard. The bags might be designed to have their tops wrap around the frame and use snaps to fasten, This would eliminate the need for hooks.
  • the bags might contain a bungee/compliant top rim to provide suspension for veggies. Were the bins a bit on the deep side?
  • are the polycarbonate sides needed? I suspect they could be eliminated and this would lower cost a fair bit.
  • the attachment point to the bike could be a bit more refined.
  • more durable fabric screens would be more appropriate than the window screen. There are also cleaner attachment methods that could be made. Happy to discuss.


Average reviewer score
The average reviewer score is on a scale of 0-10, where 10 is highest. The score is based on prototype operation and the assessment viewpoints outlined in the technical review description. The data are averaged from rankings provided by 31 reviewers.