Week 4 Designers Wanted Go back ◀

There are many ways to approach designing. Sometimes we start with an existing piece of technology and find ways to make it better. This is one of Apple’s claims to fame. Their company hasn’t ever really been the first ones to come up with a technology, but they are some of the best in the world at taking an existing idea and making it better and more marketable. In their case, they are oftentimes able to redesign existing technologies into something that is more user-friendly.

If you are interested, in learning more about this, take a look at this article. Apple Design Secret Article

During this task you will think about redesigning one of the technologies that you used during Data in Motion. Think back over some of the technologies and wearables that you tested out or saw demoed in previous sessions. Pick one or two, and think about a few shortcomings with these existing technologies and subsequently think about ways that they could be better. You might also think about other activities where you would want to use this device that the designers didn’t think about. To help you with this, try taking a five day challenge where you test out different parts of one of the apps or wearables. Each day, after using it, give yourself 10 minutes to jot down some ideas in your Data in Motion Journal.

As you do this, reflect on a couple of different ideas. First, commercial products are far from perfect, so we can't expect for our devices to be perfect. These devices go through multiple iterations and modifications. At the same time though, there are many ways that existing devices can be improved to satisfy a more diverse set of needs. So as we are working on designing our prototypes we should be open to making changes to our devices.

Either at the end of each day, or at the end of the week, see if there is a family member, friend, or caretaker who will look at your ideas. As they look at them, as about their favorite parts, or any ideas that they might have for making them better. You can also ask them for suggestions on how to make the existing device or your device redesign better. Remember, not every idea that we generate is going to be the best, but in the end, we want to think about bringing together the best aspects of different redesigns.

Make sure to jot down any additional ideas in your Data in Motion journal. We'll talk about some of these the next time we meet up.

Another approach for designing is to start with a specific problem that you or a family member are dealing with. It doesn’t really have to be a problem, it can even just be something that you might want to get better at for example. Remember when we had you list out your favorite physical activities or sports after week 2? Return to that page in your journal. Take a look at what you thought was possible at the beginning as we think about what is possible now. As we go through this process, there are going to be a few steps to follow.

First, choose a specific sport or physical activity. Now that you have a single sport or activity in mind, take three minutes and write down as many ideas as you can about challenges that you might experience in that specific sport or activity, or questions about how you are performing. For example, if I chose Tap Dancing as my activity, I might have questions about how well I am keeping the beat, whether I am moving in sync with other tap dancers, and if my arms are in the right position. Don't worry about the ideas being silly, or seeming unimportant, just write down as many as you can.

Okay, now stand up for a minute, walk around for a few minutes and then come back to your list. Look over your list and pick the two questions or challenges you are most excited about. We are going to focus on doing more brainstorming around those two ideas.

To start this process, pick one of the ideas or challenges and come up with three wildly different solutions to that problem. Don't worry about the technology that you'll need, just think about what a good solution might look like. But remember, you want each of the solutions to be completely different from one another.

Now, do the same thing for the other idea or challenge. Put all of these thoughts in your Data in Motion journal, and try to keep these ideas at the back of your mind as your go through the winter break.

Another fun way to design things is to work within certain constraints and just see what you can come up with. To help with this process, we have included a tiilt (technological innovations for inclusive learning and teaching) beanie. You can find out more about tiilt at tiilt.northwestern.edu. Today, we want you to start thinking about ways that you could make a physical activity related wearable using the beanie, the micro:bit, and any other materials you might have around your home. The micro:bit can sit inside the cuff of the beanie if you want to conceal it, or you can have it on display. You can also think about ways to use the beanie as something other than a hat by cutting a hole in the top, or using the cuffed part as a headband.

If you are stuck for ideas on things to do, talk to a friend, or family member and see if they can help you think up some ideas. Here are a couple ideas that we thought were interested.

Give it a try and see what you make. Write down any ideas that you come up with in your Data in Motion Journal.