Results of Technical Review
Over 45 instructors and guest reviewers attended the review. Team specific comments from Professor Wallace are written on this page, below this section of comments for all teams. You will also receive longer written instructions from other instructors before your team's lab this week.
Teams have shown good progress since the mockup review. The current prototypes are great platforms for testing, and they are a concrete reference point/architecture from which one can carefully design and detail a "productized" alpha prototype.
While some were more refined than others, across all teams the current prototypes are closer to an engineering mockup than a designed product. There are still significant challenges and design resolution on route to a looks-like, works-like prototype and final presentation.
It is now critical to design and execute your device 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 (amongst many other things). This is where the transition to being the design of a product, not just a concept, takes place. Please think about how your current prototype 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. This is what we are aiming for.
If your team has 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.
Use your current prototype well to test and understand how to resolve challenges. 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. Your team will have a 30 minute design review with course instructors next Monday afternoon (23rd).
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, plus many of your peers will be in attendance and will review your product, 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 final presentation setup. Please contact Professor Wallace to schedule a time for your team if you have not done so already (often during the later part of lab works well).
Finally, the average score from reviewers for each prototype, with standard deviations, is at the bottom of this page.
Red: IV pole
The prototype pretty much works and allows you to really test, which is great! With this reference, it is now time to make it into a product. It should be beautiful outside to the user and on the inside to the engineer. Be sure to use what you have to test it with users (in real use environments) to understand potential issues, what is helpful, and what is not. Also, try to avoid feature creep—understand what it really needs to do and do that well. First and foremost it needs to be a good IV pole! You might want to develop and set up a standard obstacle course for testing.
Some additional comments follow.
You have a direction and vision that seems quite interesting as a product. Now is the time to make it a really special product for its user! Continue to work with experts, but at the same time avoid feature creep or duplicating familiar teaching devices. Know your core proposition and do it really well. It seems that a clean device that prompts with characters with little input/minimal interface other than the character is compelling.
Some additional thoughts are:
Blue: kite game
This seemed like fun! I think that there are a couple of key things to taking it to the next step. The kite and electronics need to get lighter so that the kite can fly in more modest winds. Also, stronger status feedback about what is happening will improve game play and allow spectators to understand as well. On the kite, the release needs to be minimal and refined, both on the outside and inside. The striker had good thoughts behind it but also needs refinement. With this concrete prototype, there is now a good reference to work though refining and designing the product prototype.
Additional thoughts follow.
Yellow: Rappelling device
The two prototypes were nicely made and excellent testing platforms! It seems like your performance goals are challenging but should be attainable, but please use the existing prototypes to really understand what is happening. Otherwise, you could spend a lot of time making changes chasing something that you hope will work better. Tweak and test, tweak and test and time's up before you know it. Before going into a long rebuild, be very confident about what needs to change to make it work.
Some other thoughts and suggestions follow:
Orange: Camera toy
A lot of work has gone into the different components and sub-systems of the toy. That said, all of the major elements have a distance to go to be working, and an even bigger jump to become an actual resolved product design. When I think about it, in effect I see two, and perhaps three products—a viewer/binocular, an app, and a walking robot. Any one of these could be thought of as a product... think of the dog robot toy as an example of the level of resolution that is needed! Designing a robot toy alone is challenging so this is a lot to design, refine, and execute at a high level.
So, how might one think about making the jump to a realistic product design? My impression of the value proposition is to offer an exploration experience from a unique viewpoint. How do you focus on that core proposition and simplify the toy? Is it a high resolution, wearable viewer with a camera on a stick or your shoe that you can move? With the binoculars on, one can't see the robot anyhow. This approach allows you to focus on a good viewer toy, eliminates the driving controls and reduces the camera carrier design scope. Is it a cool robot that you can drive through different terrains and watch on a stable, quality video feed to any device one might own? In this scenario the design of the viewer is minimized. What is central to the exploration toy value proposition, and where is it unique and most competitive? I really encourage focusing on the aspect that most clearly delivers on that, and execute it at a high level. A simpler, focused proposition done well is better than many partially resolved sub-systems.
I would be happy to discuss design details in person with you as well.
Lots of pieces came together, so you were successful in creating a prototype that will help you target and refine the overall product design as a system. That is a good thing!
With automated devices, especially ones involving privacy, understanding its status is a good thing.
Also, there seemed to be very good overall team knowledge about what your product is and how it worked.
Some other thoughts and suggestions are below.
Silver: tightening brace
You have a clear and focused product value proposition, which puts you in a good position to develop a refined realistic product. Since it seems like braces are going to be quite variable in shape, size, and strap position, for me the trick seems to be how to design an elegant system/module that the brace fabricator can use to conveniently and quickly configure and install the tightening system. The new name is nice.
I imagine something like a "lego-like" semi-rigid base that can be trimmed to the needed shape and allows for the easy attachment of actuators, straps, etc. in appropriate locations would work well. This base with attached modules could then be attached to the brace, either with a few fasteners or perhaps a sheet of Velcro.
A few other comments are:
A lot of pieces have been worked on and you have made progress, but there is also a distance to go before achieving the performance that you require. And once you have that, you will need to work on detailing the design of the product.
Be sure to learn as much from the current prototype as you can. Some aspects of the prototype seemed a bit found object (main bearing, steppers) rather than what you would ideally source based on the design needs. Now is the time to do it for real, both in design detail and fabrication.
Some additional notes follow: