On Friday, the Homelessness group took their first round of prototypes out to get feedback from the homeless They met a man named Dustin who was incredibly helpful. As well as giving them feedback on their designs, he also told them about what materials he uses—like corrugated plastic signs and discarded rubber mats from screen printing.
Dustin said that water generally comes up from the bottom of the shoe (walking through grass, for example). He believed the water would come through where the neoprene met the sole. If it were sealed down it would work better.
Lizz’s Various Pocketed Apparel:
“Ladies would wear those, I wouldn’t,” said Dustin. He also suggested gloves with pockets on the backs for heat warmers.
Lizz’s Tin Heater:
Dustin had used the same basic design before and said that he had used it to warm his tent. He also punched holes in Sterno cans and used them for the same purpose. We found that the size of the device can be much smaller than the tins we used.
“My prototype seemed to be well received. I asked a few people and they all said that they would use something like this, or if they wouldn’t, they knew other people would.
When we were out there, I began to notice how many bungee cords were used to secure carts and personal items. This was reassuring but also brought up a major question for me; whether anyone would really want to spend even the smallest amount of time to make these. There’s no question that my bungee cords would work or be useful, but it’s a matter of the effort involved.
The first step for me will be to show someone how to make it and see if any problems come out of that. After that, I plan on drawing up simple instructions and seeing if those help. During all this, I plan to be making a few more bungees and giving them out. I’ll then come back in a week and meet with the people that used them and see how they worked and discuss any problems they had with them.“
The first response was “Most of us are pretty frickin’ lazy, so the easiest thing is probably the best thing.” This means that our designs need to be quick to make and learn.
The team’s next goals are prototyping and drawing up several new iterations of the heater. They also plan to continue with the bungee idea by doing comparisons with other bungees to see how theirs compare and finding out if there are improvements beyond cost.
For the past few weeks the UO DFA Autism team has been brainstorming concept ideas. At the beginning of the year, the team focused on problems of nutrition, education, hygiene, and other various difficulties children with autism face—but at this point, the team has narrowed their focus down to communication between non-verbals.
They started with 60-70 different ideas, decided on 28, and finally narrowed it down to 14. On Sunday, the team started “ideating;” they started turning their concept ideas into written prototype models. The team wants to create an object to aid the children, but it can also act as a aid for teachers and students
Andre and Mica conceptualized items that the children can use to release frustration and tension. They were inspired by stress balls—but ones that can express emotion.
Allison and Maddy’s prototype ideas were inspired by Buddha Boards, a canvas you can paint on using only water. Their main focus was creating items to help children socialize and verbalize emotional expression.
Claire, Carlene, and Mix (via Skype!) worked with two different prototype ideas. The first was a bunny doll that could be used to teach emotional empathy. Their idea was influenced by another DFA project, Jerry the Bear. Their other idea was an interactive Playscape that encourages exercise, gesture learning, and reward.
The Autism Team is working hard. Expect great advancements from them soon!
Thane - This cot concept keeps the homeless off of the wet ground. Our research showed that there were problems of sleeping on the hard ground as well as with moisture coming up through the ground. It folds from a flat sheet to create bracing triangles that support sleeping users.
Matt - This product solves the problem of drying small articles of clothihng in 15 minutes or less. Using ventilated packaging and water wiking material, the product works with a heat source to get water molecules quickly away from the article of clothing and into the atmosphere, resulting in quickly dried clothing. The concept prototype experiments with different patterns of ventilation to achieve optimization of evaporation of water in wet clothing materials.
Chris - My first concept aims at keeping socks dry. Based on personal experience, I realized that a natural walking motion lifts water onto the front of the shoe first. Once the front of your shoe and sock has gotten wet, the moisture continues to soak towards the back. This shoe guard would cover the front toe-box area of the shoe, and help to prevent water from soaking to the sock. My second concept utilizes the heat from (free) hot water and the thermal conductivity of steel drinking canisters to dry socks.
Lizz - The objective behind my concepts/prototypes is to find a way to provide the user with additional heat sources to help keep warm. This is explored in various forms, all using hand warmers for the additional heat source. I have attached several elastic bands within different products such as a head warmers and leg warmers that allow the users to attach extra hand warmers to provide additional warmth. The bands can also be used as a way for the user to store their smaller, more personal possessions to protect them from theft. In addition, I have also looked at external methods of pervading warmth that can be used by multiple people at a time instead of just one. This can be seen with the use of a foil-fireplace. This product consists of two-foil/tin cooking dishes, hand sanitizer, a rubber band, and a lighter. THe cooking dishes act as a fireplace and the hand sanitizer is the heat-providing component. One simply must put hand sanitizer in the dish, light it with matches of a lighter, put the perforated top on a wrap the rubber band around (for the purpose of keeping the fire safe and so that one does not burn themselves when touching the dishes) to achieve an external element of warmth. These products cost less than $3.00 to make, making them affordable for a wide range of users.
Perry - My prototype centers around using easily available and zero-cost materials, and the concept of drying wet clothes in sunny conditions after a night of rain. By acquiring used bicycle tubes from local shops for free, cutting them up, gluing them in a bag form, and perforating one side so that the black tubes absorb heat and drain water, the user is able to dry shirts and other items.
Dan - During our interviews, observations and research, I noticed how personal belongings were protected from the elements by covering them up or wrapping them in whatever material that could be found—usually it was tarps, shower curtains, blankets or plastic. I wanted to explore a way of making belongings even more secure and protected from the rain, harsh weather and other people. This prototype is a type of bungie cord that is made entirely from parts of a bike tire. All you need to make a bike tire bungie is a few spokes, a tire tube, and a pocketknife. The elastic part is made from the bike tube and the hooks are made from the spokes. It’s extremely easy to make, takes hardly any time, and is free. The nice thing about this object is its versatility. So far, I can see it being used to secure coverings over shopping carts and backpacks and to hang wet clothes to dry. I’m excited to make more and give them out to homeless individuals and see what they think and how they will use them.
Spring term has sprung, and UODFA is ready to go!
Here are some quick recaps of what each team has accomplished and what their next steps are—check it out!
“Throughout the term we have been gathering both primary and secondary research about the topic of autism. We started very broad; our research allowed us to investigate issues like nutrition, expression, and daily routine, but we have recently focused down the issue of interaction and communication of non-verbal autistic children. We have spent time with children at the Bridgeway House, a local school for autistic children. This term, we hope to continue our ideation and translate our designs into working prototypes to get feedback, and eventually narrow down to the best solution. This will be a very exciting term for us, as we will finally get to see all of our hard work manifested into physical objects that we hope can have a positive impact on the lives of the wonderfully bright and talented kids we have been working with.” — Maddy, Team Autism
“Over the past two terms, our team has been researching problems that homeless individuals in the Eugene area encounter. Based on insights from the local homeless community, we found that rain and wetness are the root of many problems, from trench foot to soggy sleeping bags. Follow us we take the next step in our project and begin to conceptualize, prototype, and design solutions to help the homeless stay dry.” — Chris, Team Homelessness
Follow along to see what each team develops!
“I don’t have any real world design experience. I have never created a physical product to enhance a person’s life, and the prospect of doing just that is exciting to me. I am excited to look at design as something more than just an image on a piece of paper. I want to be able to interact with consumers, get direct and immediate feedback, design for real world problems and affect social change through design. What interests me about Design for America is the real world results that the projects have. I want to be able to be as passionate about the projects we create in DFA as the people we are servicing.” -Maris Antolin, Digital Arts, Senior
“We are needed everywhere and if we can make an impact in Eugene then that is a significant contribution. Design for American combines a love of design and a love of philanthropy and service. And I think this is the best way to find meaningful and long-lasting solutions.” -Claire Sakaguchi, Product Design, Sophomore
DFA UO just had a group meeting Friday afternoon to talk about the issues we want to tackle and the progress we’ve made in the community so far. Community contact is essential for having a feasible and successful project- we need to have access to actual users so we can design directly for their needs, and let them test what we come up with.
We’re currently making teams to look into Homelessness; Autism; Mobility Impairment (a continuation of the workshop); Seasonal Affective Disorder; and Alzheimer’s. These are incredibly vast subjects, so we brainstormed some How Can We statements to generate a better focus, but the final How Can We statements will come from the solidified teams. Looks like we’ll have around 20 members and we are really pumped to have that many awesome people working on these projects!
Check out this story about DFA, and see the projects people are starting at other schools!
Thanks to everyone who came to our very first DFA event at the U of O! Here’s a recap of what happened this weekend for those who were unable to make it…
Friday, Sept 30: Info. Meeting
There was a great turn out for the info meeting. It was exciting to see how many people were interested in learning what Design for America is all about! We gave a presentation explaining the goals and values of DFA, the national network of other universities involved with the organization, and the possible topics we will focus on for our Fall term projects (Alzheimer’s, autism, homelessness, mobility impairment, and seasonal affective disorder).
Everyone was encouraged to attend the Mobility Impairment Workshop the next day…
Saturday, Oct 1: Mobility Impairment Design Workshop
Our goal for the workshop was to help everyone become masters of the design process, and to give people an idea of the types of projects we will be working on throughout the year.
Scope: We started off by presenting the issue of mobility impairment, and told everyone we would be focusing on wheel chair use in grocery stores.
Discover: Everyone was put into teams and given a few minutes to do general research on wheel chair use and come up with interview questions for our guest speaker. Molly Rogers, a soon to be faculty member at the UO shared her experience as a wheel chair user. Her insights gave us a better idea of the challenges one might face on a daily basis. We borrowed wheel chairs from the health center and went to a Market of Choice to experience, first hand, the difficulties of shopping in a wheel chair. Unfortunately, we forgot to bring a camera with us :(
Reframe: Teams looked at their observations from the grocery store as well as their new knowledge from Molly to create specific “How can we…” questions.
Ideate: Using collective brain power, our teams doodled and wrote down their all their ideas on how to improve the grocery shopping experience for wheel chair users based on their reframe question.
Prototype: Although materials were limited to paper cups, yarn, cardboard, toothpicks, and other random items, each team made a prototype of their best solution. Steve, another faculty member at the University who is also a wheel chair user provided teams with feedback on their design solutions.
Overall, the day was fun and very hands on. Some awesome ideas came out of the workshop with potential to be further developed throughout the term.
DFA Oregon is off to a great start!