Day 140 – A Quick Recap

Having had my concept presentation at the end of last semester, I thought it would be useful to recap what I showed during that day in order to pick up from where I left off. By doing this, I will be able to identify what I need to improve on this semester, and what I need to build upon and alter in order to develop a refined prototype in the weeks to come.

Slide 1: Spokesperson

For my first slide, I showed one of my rough ideas, demonstrating what the general themes I was talking about were — if anyone is interesting in learning more about my ideas, please check out my previous post.

On a side note, the poor naming of the concept, Spokesperson, is only a placeholder at this moment in time — it’s hard to come up with a name that acts as an umbrella for many concepts, and I had to unfortunately revert to bad puns for now.

Slide 2: People, Design, Technology

This slide was dedicated to my ethos as a designer, which relates to the People, Design, Technology ideology that the Social Digital course prescribes to. Technology was the main, driving focus of the project, with my interests lying mainly in Smart Cities, and this platform allowed me to explore the human-centred problems within that area. It also provided me with a good constraint to place upon my project, as I could focus upon one area of technology in my project.

Slide 3: Data and Smart Cities

Talking of technology, I used this opportunity to speak about what inspired me in the area of Smart Cities. Going above the idea of simply suggesting that Arduino be used, I wanted to speak about how and why this technology was fundamental to my project. I used two primary examples which have really inspired my thinking over the course of the semester.

The Arduino Smart Citizen kit allows anybody to record data such as air pollution and noise pollution, and feed that back to local councils in order to open up a dialogue between citizen and city. The open data can be accessed by anybody, and it’s vital for local authorities in assessing the types of issues prevalent in their area.

The Falco Smart Counters also inspired me, as they have a similar function, yet in regards to cyclists. The counters record how many people use a cycling path and other basic data, which allows road planners to have greater consideration for the trends on our cities roads. One thing that I found interesting about these however, is that the data is manipulated (quite blandly I must add however) to display the information for other cyclists in the city. One user I interviewed, Loraine, noted that she felt a bond with unseen strangers when her number was registered on the counter — I wonder how this type of satisfaction with being a part of a community could be altered and enhanced in order to provide a greater feeling of community and contribution within our local society?

Slide 4: Human Centred Research

People is the overarching focus of my project. All issues stem from them, and whilst it is important for me to use technology creatively, it needs to suit the correct problem. This is why I have placed so much emphasis in extracting insights from Desk Research, Interviews, Expert Interviews, Cultural Probes, Sketch Sessions and Events.

I gathered loads of insights from these channels, and with them made three challenges — use technology to develop a community of cyclists in Dundee, create a better dialogue between citizens and local road planners, and raise awareness for good and bad cycling routes in and around the city of Dundee. 

These challenges stem from both my insights gained from users and a touch of measured decisiveness from myself. Obviously what people need is better cycling lanes. Roads need to be safer and more accommodating for cyclists, in turn making them more normalised. What I can’t design is a cycling path making machine, because that a) exists and b) would be illegal. What I can do however, is draw upon the community to instigate this change — giving them a platform upon which to speak. That is one positive having a constrain such as the Smart Cities idea on my project — it’s giving me a different perspective on the situation, something maybe more advantageous than simply approaching it with core, craft-like Product Design techniques.

Slide 5: Design Sketches

Design is my most ignored area of People, Design, Technology at this moment in time. The reason for this is that my ideas were only put down on paper in the week before the presentation, prototyping will not even start until the week coming at earliest, but also I feel that my comprehension of “design” is a method of problem solving and thinking. If you think about it, I have the problem, which stems from People, and I have the means to solve it, Technology.

Basically, Design acts as the bridge that links the two, allowing these raw, opposing forces to combine to create a design solution. This being the first semester, it is far too early to actually design anything yet. So it’s quite vague for me to speculate on at this moment in time.

The ideas shown here were further explored in a later post. I will continue to sketch ideas and concepts until I have the singular idea that I am going to progress with. The reason for this is to get something out there quickly, not to labour about how a prototype might look and just get insights on the core idea straight away. This maximises the time with which I can work on the best idea, something that is important for someone like me who lacks confidence in the workshop.

Slide 6: Storyboard

This concept is basically two of my previous concepts integrated into one. It draws upon the best bits of two of my other sketches, and it’s one that I may or may not test out in future. However, as mentioned previously, I would like to test out more ideas and see what I can come up with.

I was fortunate to speak to Mark Beaumont, rector of the University and world record breaking cyclist, a couple of days after my presentation. He showed a keen interest in what I was trying to do in regards to my three main challenges, and told me to contact him again when my final concept has been fully decided upon. With this special connection, I could possibly develop my project to fit the context of real life with the support of experts in the field!

The week ahead holds prototyping, sketching and reading to back up my concepts. Soon enough, I will have a defined concept that I can focus all my attentions on — can’t wait!

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