Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day 9 - Design Continuum

The participants spent the vast majority of today working within their groups. They were given a brief session in the morning on the various ways that they could construct mock prototypes using chip board, foam core, and actual materials to test the user feasibility. The teams then each found a corner of the Stata centre to work in and began a series of sketch models, system diagrams and experimentation's that lasted the until late in the afternoon.

The" hand held medical diagnostic tool" team work out some key concepts on their blackboard in the Stata centre

Each participant has also been given a design notebook which contains graph paper and information about design and prototyping. One student, Nathan Cooke, has been using his notebook extensively, sketching out ideas for the project and recording team and group sessions. He has also included some excellent sketches of the participants! Just another example of the huge reservoir of talent that exists among the participants in this years conference.

Nathan's sketches of some of the other participants

At 5.15 we all met back in 32-141 to get ready for our trip to Continuum. This design firm is working closely this summer with IDDS to help participants with information and advice on the design process involved in the projects. On Friday 25th July, and then again on the Friday of the following week, consultants from Continuum, IDEO and Cooper Perkins will come to participate in Design reviews to help give the participants guidance on the finer details of their design approach and prototype construction.

We had organized two school buses to take the IDDS group to the Continuum offices in Newton, a thirty minute drive from MIT. On the way there I had an interesting discussion with Jessica Huang, a civil engineering and business student in Berkeley college who is working on the Power Generation from Mechanical Device team. She is currently working back in California on a project focusing on Arsenic removal from water and will be presenting her work so far to the IDDS group next Tuesday. Looking forward to it!

We reached Continuum at 630pm(slightly behind schedule, in keeping with the IDDS style) and were delighted to find a huge array of food had been prepared for us. We were graciously received by all the Continuum staff and they even had the courtesy of providing name badges for those of us who had forgotten our IDDS versions! Continuum's president, Gianfranco Zaccai, welcomed us with a short speech in which he stressed the importance of conferences such as IDDS for helping to foster new ideas and new ways of solving real life problems through design innovations. He pointed out that even though it was possible to send man to the moon using an almost unlimited amount of time and resources the task of designing a simple, cheap, effective and implementable technology was in fact far more difficult and required far more innovation.

The participants and the Continuum employees then split into two groups, one of which went on a tour of the building while the other listened to presentations given by IDDS participants. I was in the first group and we were treated to presentations from Mariela Molina, Bryce Butcher, Suprio Das and Bernard Kiwia. Mariela, Universidad Rafael Landivar Guatemala and Bryce, Art Center College of Design (Pasadena, CA), talked about two very different projects. Mariela told the group of the work she was doing on water purification through solar panels and then Bryce followed this with an interesting presentation on a latrine design project entitled "Eco Loo". Bryce worked with fellow team members from the California Institute of Technology and the her own college to attempt to "to provide simple, efficient solutions to the latrine problem in developing countries". Her team went on a field trip to Guatemala to discover more information and then developed a design that they believe could help to stop the spread of latrine caused disease. To find out more about Bryce's project check out their website - http://www.eco-loo.com/ .

Suprio and Bernard then talked about different forms of energy they had created using a variety of parts from bikes they had dismantled. Both of these mechanisms represent innovation at its best and were very much appreciated by both the participants and the designers in the room. I'll let the videos speak for themselves on this occasion...

Suprio's home made technology

Bernard's innovative pedal powered saw

Our group were then given a tour of the offices by Michelle Tsay, one of Continuum's employees. We were shown a number of interesting projects developed by the fire, ranging from a modulating shower head to an innovative runner design! Michelle told us a little about the aim and vision of Continuum and focused on the difficulty of striking a balance between sustainable and profit generating products. All the participants were very positive about their experience at Continuum and are very excited about working with some of the consultants there on designing their prototypes later this week!

A sustainalbe presentation stand made completely out of cardboard

Marcio, Stephen and Jagdish having fun on the tour of Continuum

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