Assignment 7


Idea Selection and Pitch

Concept Selection

To choose my final concept, I used a Pugh chart.


I found that the Christmas gift registry did not fit my needs very well, and that peer to peer customer service and amazon-style reviews and suggestions were only alright. My two concepts that best fit my goals were the employee contact app, and the augmented reality app.
To decide between these, I went mainly on feasibility; the employee contact app is significantly simpler, though both are completely possible with the right backing.

Product Name

I found this section difficult, as we were told not to get too abstract with the name, nor try to be cutesy. Coming up with an interesting name that is also descriptive is something I struggle with.


I really like "[Store Name] Holiday Helper" in keeping with the winter/holiday shopping theme, however, I think this app has too much value throughout the year to market it as just a holiday thing.

I chose "Beacon" as a moderately meaningful name that doesn't just say exactly what it is. Depending on how it was marketed, this could be left as simply Beacon, or could become something like Target Beacon for better branding.


Elevator Pitch Video

Assignment 6


Idea Evaluation


This week, the first part of the assignment was to survey consumers to determine which of our ten Ideas had the most potential. One of the suggested methods to conduct our survey was Amazon Mechanical Turk. I chose to use this method, because it would be a good tool to understand how to use for the future. In the end, It cost me about 12.50 to get 50 completed surveys, made up of $.20 per survey completed to the person completing it, $.02 per survey to Amazon, and bonuses of a few cents to workers who left helpful comments. I believe I ended up overpaying and could have spent about half what I did, as all 50 surveys were completed in well under an hour.

My survey consisted of a few basic demographic questions, followed by a photo and three questions for each concept. Questions were a scale from Horrible Idea to Great Idea, and free entry of how much they would pay for the concept, and a comments box. I discovered that I needed to better define what I wanted on the how much they would pay question, as I got results in many formats, and over a huge range. (one person had entries in the millions, which I excluded from my averages)

My top five rated ideas were:
(Keep in mind that the dollar values are given with no context, and these are mostly products that a customer would not be expected to pay out of pocket for.)

Rating: 3.52/5 (Note: no one thought this idea was "horrible", but very few felt it was "Great". All others have at least some votes for horrible, but some have more votes for great)
Average dollar value: $9.71

Rating: 3.35/5
Average dollar value: $4.27

Rating: 3.44
Average dollar value: $7.72

Rating: 3.81
Average dollar value: $4.04

Rating: 3.71
Average dollar value: $3.03



  • Smartphone Connection to Employees
  • Peer to Peer Customer Help
  • Augmented Reality App/Hardware
  • Amazon-like Reviews & Suggestions in Store
  • Christmas Gift Registry

Patent Search

  • Smartphone Connection to Employees
EP2624186 - Method for processing a customer request through a plurality of communication interfaces and for supervising such processing -This patent is really not very similar to the concept, but is the closest I was able to find. The biggest difference is that the patent is about multi-channel communication.
  • Peer to Peer Customer Help
WO 2012028951 A1 - Incentivized peer-to-peer content and royalty distribution system
  • Augmented Reality App/Hardware
WO 2013087352 A1 - Augmented reality personalization
  • Amazon-like Reviews & Suggestions in Store
CA 2761936 A1 - Integrated online and physical location merchandizing
  • Christmas Gift Registry
US 8478656 B2 - Systems and methods for a centralized gift registry with upload and merge of a retailer-specific registry

  • Smartphone Connection to Employees
Biggest unknown: Whether stores would want such a service, as they would be my true customers.
Cost: Doing some quick research, $10k looks to be a good baseline for an app like this. (one time cost, mostly unlimited customers)
  • Peer to Peer Customer Help
Biggest unknown: Implementation. Website, app, monitoring, etc?
Cost: As written, this idea could take many forms. I think realistically, it would require an app, a website, and probably some sort of rewards for helping. I would expect a setup cost of around $50k, plus ongoing costs, but this would be more than offset by an even marginally reduced workforce.
  • Augmented Reality App/Hardware
Biggest unknown: Customer owned vs. in store use only/store owned?
Cost: As hardware: $200-$1500 per unit. As an app: $50k-200k development.
  • Amazon-like Reviews & Suggestions in Store
Biggest unknown: Where would this fit in a store? Might take up too much space.
Cost: $100-500 per unit, based on similar common electronics, such as smartphones and tablets, plus cost to develop software.
  • Christmas Gift Registry
Biggest unknown: Would customers like this, or just find it excessive?
Cost: Near free in any store that offers another gift registry, as they already have the equipment needed. Only cost would be marketing materials.$0-1000 per location.

Assignment 5


Structured Idea Generation

First, I used the scamper methods to generate new concepts based on the "product" of store employees.





Put to other uses:



TRIZ is a method to find ways of dealing with common problems using categories and a large table.
I chose "Loss of Information" and "Loss of Time" as my two problem areas. Looking these up on the chart, I found that my problems may be solved using four types of solution: triz.png

  • 24. 'Intermediary'
    Use an intermediary carrier article or intermediary process.
    - Carpenter s nailset, used between the hammer and the nail
    Merge one object temporarily with another (which can be easily removed).
    - Pot holder to carry hot dishes to the table

  • 26. Copying
    Instead of an unavailable, expensive, fragile object, use simpler and inexpensive copies.
    - Virtual reality via computer instead of an expensive vacation
    - Listen to an audio tape instead of attending a seminar.
    Replace an object, or process with optical copies.
    - Do surveying from space photographs instead of on the ground.
    - Measure an object by measuring the photograph.
    - Make sonograms to evaluate the health of a fetus, instead of risking damage by direct testing.
    If visible optical copies are already used, move to infrared or ultraviolet copies.
    - Make images in infrared to detect heat sources, such as diseases in crops, or intruders in a security system.

  • 28. Mechanics substitution
    Replace a mechanical means with a sensory (optical, acoustic, taste or smell) means.
    - Replace a physical fence to confine a dog or cat with an acoustic *fence* (signal audible to the animal).
    - Use a bad smelling compound in natural gas to alert users to leakage, instead of a mechanical or electrical sensor.
    Use electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields to interact with the object.
    - To mix 2 powders, electrostatically charge one positive and the other negative. Either use fields to direct them, or mix them mechanically and let their acquired fields cause the grains of powder to pair up.
    Change from static to movable fields, from unstructured fields to those having structure.
    - Early communications used omnidirectional broadcasting. We now use antennas with very detailed structure of the pattern of radiation.
    Use fields in conjunction with field-activated (e.g. ferromagnetic) particles.
    - Heat a substance containing ferromagnetic material by using varying magnetic field. When the temperature exceeds the Curie point, the material becomes paramagnetic, and no longer absorbs heat.

  • 32. Color changes
    Change the color of an object or its external environment.
    - Use safe lights in a photographic darkroom.
    Change the transparency of an object or its external environment.
    - Use photolithography to change transparent material to a solid mask for semiconductor processing. Similarly, change mask material from transparent to opaque for silk screen processing.

Using these categories, I made a list of new ideas, a few of which are sketched below.




Improving Ideas from Brainstorming


Final Ten











Assignment 4



I started this assignment by converting my problem statements into "How might we" statements.

  • How might we reduce the stress experienced during holiday shopping?

  • How might we help a customer who is buying a gift in a category they do not fully understand to choose a good gift?

I had a hard time getting a group together on my own, so a few of us teamed up to find enough people from outside the class. My brainstorm used both the people from outside the class, and the people I teamed up with, for a total of about 7 people.

As a group, we did two improv games: Red Ball, and Kitty wants a corner. Then, each classmate did their own improv game with the group at the beginning of their two parts. I began my portion of the brainstorming with a game similar to clams are great. Each person would pair up with another, and then they would take turns listing off ways to accomplish a task - in this case, peel an orange. The ways could be reasonable, or they could be way out there. Some examples include: with your hands, by inserting a firecracker, with a freeze ray, by blowing on it. I told the participants to aim for speed (like clams are great).

I used the 6-3-5 method, however, I did allow talking, and shortened the five minutes to just 3. I think this worked quite well, however, it is not really well suited to the part of the assignment of posting in the same format as Assignment 2. I had some issues with people wearing out due to the long session, which my topic was at the end of. During the brainstorming, I tried to leave people to think on their own, but when it looked like ideas were getting harder, I would ask them to incorporate props, such as aluminum foil, or a pen.

I got plenty of silly ideas


I also had a little trouble, because I used a slightly different format than the prior facilitators; I asked people to rotate only when directed, and to come up with at least three ideas, but more was better. I told them to swap at three minute intervals. The prior facilitators used a more flexible plan of three ideas, then swap with anyone.

My sessions got a combined IPM (ideas per minute [per person]) of 1.13, which is great!

Top 10 Ideas:

How might we reduce the stress experienced during holiday shopping?






How might we help a customer who is buying a gift in a category they do not fully understand to choose a good gift?






I am unable to accurately give credit to those who created the above ideas, as I was not able to identify who wrote what by handwriting, and made no provision for easy future identification through pen or paper colors. This is definitely something I will remember for next time!

Video of part of the first session:

Assignment 3


Ethnographic Research
Theme: Holiday Shopping

This week, we were asked to gather observations, experiences, and opinions around our theme. Suggested methods include interviews, observation, and first-hand experience.

To start with, I interviewed four people.
The first one (video below) Is an older woman, who no longer feels she has the energy to shop for everyone important to her, so she gives everyone cash instead, "and they seem to be much happier that way." When she did shop, she didn't really do the big sales normally, but the crowds (and most any other issues) didn't really bother her. She really loves giving, but it's harder when you know the people less well.

The second interviewee felt that while you see some sales, the prices on a lot of things are higher than normal, since you will feel you need to buy it anyway. She also felt that people get really crazy in their attempt to get the right stuff, so she avoids shopping this time of year as much as possible. She really likes giving, and said that shopping for birthday presents (when it's not the holiday season) is great. I asked if she used online shopping, or off peak times to avoid the craziness, and she said that online is ok if you know just what to get, but it's not very good for looking around, and that off peak (evenings) are less crowded, but that the people who are shopping at those times are worse to deal with than normal, because they are overtired. She does not like cash or gift cards as gifts, but does think that a home made gift is a great way to go.

The third interviewee is an employee at Target, and previously at Fleet Farm, so she has experienced Black Friday and holiday shopping in general from the other side. Her immediate answer to the question, "What do you think about holiday shopping, both working in retail, an as a customer," was, "It's shit." She echoed the response of the second interviewee about stores charging too much, and said that customers are extremely rude to each other, and to employees. She wishes Christmas was a bit less commercialized, so everyone could enjoy it more, with less stress. "I kinda just see [Black Friday] as 'everyone turns into vicious material hungry savages. I mean just look at how many people are injured because of stampeding into a store to get that oh so great deal'." She felt people are way to stressed about finding and paying for the "prefect gift", and so no one is really happy, and that unhappiness just feeds into itself.

My final interviewee used to work at Walmart. She said some items are at great prices, but she wouldn't go out on Black Friday, as everyone is crazy, and the deals are hard enough to get that it's not really worth it (unless you want a TV, or maybe a laptop). She doesn't like shopping during the holidays, but feels it is a necessary part of life - everyone hates it, but you also want to give people nice gifts.

Observing people doing holiday shopping was hard, as there really isn't that much holiday shopping compared to just shopping at this time of the year. I did observe normal shopping though. I noticed that as people walked into the store, some stopped and looked around for a moment before continuing. I also noticed that some people can get kinda weird about finding the best line for checkout, switching, hurrying to beat someone else, and just generally looking like any lines were unacceptable to them. Other than these two observations, I didn't notice anything particularly interesting or unexpected, but I made plenty of notes about normal behavior.

Experiencing holiday shopping was somewhat easier than observing; while I can't experience the crowds, I can put myself in the mindset of holiday shopping. I went out to buy a gift for one of my cousins. I don't know her very well, but I do know she loves to bake cupcakes, so I decided to give her a gift related to that.
I went to Walmart, where much Christmas shopping occurs. As I parked, I noticed how easy it was to find a spot, and remembered how often it's very difficult as Christmas draws near. As I entered the store, I realized I had no idea where the baking supplies were, and had to look for signs. The signs actually didn't help much, when I found them, and they were not near the entrance for some reason. I ended up wondering to a few parts of the store that seemed like they might be right: the isle with flour and such, the kitchen section, and then eventually the craft section, where the stuff actually was. Even once I was there, I noticed that I had no idea what to buy, because I really don't know anything about decorating cupcakes.
After about ten minutes carefully looking at everything, I gave up and just started grabbing random items. I went to checkout, but got distracted by isles that included items I needed for myself on my way, wasting a few minutes buying stuff I had not came for. When I got to the checkout, I used the self checkout. It worked well, though it errored out on my first attempt to pay, so I had to cancel the payment and try again. Finally, after I left, I realized that I didn't get a gift receipt, and really needed one for this gift.

Problem statements

Holiday customers need a way to avoid stress during holiday shopping because it is bad for them personally, and rubs off to each other, and to employees. I noticed that nearly everyone I talked to, and some I watched, were clearly frustrated and stressed by the whole experience of shopping for the holidays.

Customers who are not used to a store, or who are buying a gift they don't know anything about need a way to find and understand the right gift for their person because it can be very difficult to buy a good gift when you don't know anything about what you are buying, or even where the right section is This comes largely from my own first hand experience, but I also heard a bit of it in my interviews, and observed it (I think) in the people who paused a moment just inside the store.

Assignment 2


Part 1
To get in a creative mindset, I listened to the Penn's Sunday School Podcast, and Wait Wait Don't Tell Me on NPR

Part 2
Once I was in a good creative mindset, I made a mind map about winter.

Image (2).jpg

I am particularly interested in looking at:

  • Building Snow Forts

  • Hot Drinks

  • Black Friday Shopping

Part 3
Finally, I used a form of cross products to combine ideas from my mind map into interesting product possibilities, picking the ten best to sketch out and upload here.












One of the biggest things I learned from this process is: do not forget/delay a creative project until the last day, as it will be extremely difficult to be creative while feeling rushed! On a related note, deciding that you simply are not going to make reduces that stress a lot, and allows much better work!

Having scanner issues on top of feeling rushed really takes away the feeling of success though!



Image.jpgIn trying to brainstorm about this assignment, I made a chart of things related to cookies. One common them I noticed was the fall and holidays, so I decided it would be a good idea to think about cookies in the context of fall things: thanksgiving, pumpkins, baking, cinnamon, etc. To me, one idea that stood out was pumpkin pie.

Pumpkin pie is, of course, not exactly a cookie. But I thought about how I could use it anyway. I decided that simply making pumpkin pie flavor cooking is not all that novel or interesting, but making cookies that are pumpkin pies and cookies in one seemed a bit more unique.

IMG_20131028_091535.jpgNow that I had an idea of what I wanted my cookies to be, it was time to see if I could make them work (are they feasible). I made a base cookie dough using the basic 1:2:3 ratio of sugar to fat to flour, then I added a few extra items to one cookie at a time, including cinnamon, extra fat, a little (extra) water, vanilla, "Sugar in the Raw". I baked these cookies, and taste tested them. I found vanilla, cinnamon, and sugar in the raw to be a tasty and not overpowering combination, with the sugar in the raw giving them an interesting little crunch (though I'm not sure others will like it as much as me). I also noticed that they were all a bit under-sweetened for my idea of a cookie.

Next, I used my preferred version of cookie dough, and tried to find a way to make it an effective crust for some pumpkin pie filling. I made the filling according to the recipe on the can (I thought I would treat the filling as a single ingredient), but found it was too thin to make a good part of a cookie; it was very hard to contain on the cookies. I made a new batch of filling, but skipped the condensed milk, and replaced part of the sugar with splenda (in the past, I have found sugar to thin out the texture of most fruits). With this version of filing, I could contain it with minimal trouble, I baked a few to figure out how long they took to cook, and found that about 20-25 minutes gave me an unburned cookie with fully cooked pie filling!

While there are many more extreme ideas I thought of, I feel like this was a good level of new and interesting, while maintaining a clear idea of being a cookie.

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