Assignment 7


The last post!

My five ideas again were:

  1. Hot 'N Cold Crockpot

  2. Batman Laser Firestarter

  3. Fire Cubes

  4. Fire Notes

  5. Marshmallow Rotisserie


Based on feedback from my survey, follow-on conversations with family, friends, and facebook I am strongly convicted to pitch the Hot 'N Cold Crockpot.

Reasons Why


  1. Being able to put food in your crockpot the morning (or night before) the next meal you intend to cook

  2. Keep your food in the crockpot if you don't finish it all, cool it down, and reheat for the next day

  3. Prevents overcooking of food

The feedback I received on price for this product was a little lower than I what I'm thinking I can manufacture it for but more market and manufacturing research would need to be done on that to make a decision on that.

Update: After doing further research I found some different existing products that looked cheaper, and therefore think this could retail for $80.

Potential Names

Naming is funny. Crock is defined as an earthenware pot. So the term crockpot means potpot.

  • Hot 'N Cold Crockpot
  • Cool 'N Cook
  • Coolk
  • Coolkpot
  • Arctic Cooker
  • Autopot

I decided to go with Autopot.

Practice Pitch




Assignment 6

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Received some great feedback from my survey I did. Due to the nature of my products, I made sure the survey reached suburban families. Below are the results of my survey (Would you buy it / would someone else buy it):

  1. Cook 'N Cool Crockpot - 87% / 100%

  2. Batman Laser Firestarter - 43% / 80%

  3. Fire Cubes - 43% / 77%

  4. Fire Notes - 13% / 67%

  5. Marshmallow Rotisserie - 20% / 64%

Overwhelming support for the first idea! Respondents were willing to pay $40 - $85. This may be a hard price point to reach but more research would need to be conducted to validate how much people would pay for it. Also, many people thought the products would be good for someone else, but not them. It turns out the other 4 ideas didn't relate to those who took the survey.


1. Hot 'N Cold Crockpot

Below is a look at different crockpots in the market now.

Controllability vs. Price


Here is a patent I found on a cooking and cooling system (US 4884626 A).


2. Batman Laser Fire Starter


This is an intense and somewhat dangerous product idea. Below is a patent for a laser fuel ignition system:

Laser ignition system
US 20120312267 A1

3. Fire Cubes


Patent Search:

Temperature regulation device
US D665280 S1

4. Fire Notes


The preliminary patent search came up with only processes on how to print reactive inks. The chemical makeups may be kept as trade secret or not patentable.

Methods of digital printing with reactive inks
EP 1853431 B1

5. Marshmallow Rotisserie


I found a patent relevant to my original idea for this product, although it seems much more complicated than I had envisioned.

Rotisserie driven by hot air thermal engine
US 20040182254 A1


1. Hot 'N Cold Crockpot

I was not able to find any "crockpots" on the market that cooled food and then cooked it. The problem this feature would solve is over cooking of food and food spoilage. However, some crockpots have a programming feature to switch from heating to warming; it is unclear if switching from heating to warming solves the problem of over cooked food.

Biggest Unknown
Can the pot keep the food cold without requiring too large of a thermoelectric generator? My main concern is can it be manufactured at a low enough price for enough people to buy it.

Cost Estimate
A Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker, with electronic capabilities and programming built-in goes for $75 (On sale for $49.99 right now). The thermoelectric generator needed is listed as $34 on adafruit, with temps reaching below zero. I included cost for additional insulating materials, to increase the efficiency of the cooling feature.

Total Cost Estimate: $25
Retail Price Estimate: $125

2. Batman Laser Fire Starter

Biggest Unkown
The heat needed to combust wood is likely too high for any real consumer product. It would be too dangerous. Combusting paper or disposable "joker matches" that you shoot with the laser and light on fire would be more feasible (plus, recurring revenue) but there is always an issue with a large amount of energy needed to ignite anything.

Cost Estimate
A 1200 Megawatt laser is $300+. No one is willing to buy a fire starter for this much and most people responded with this idea being way too dangerous.

3. Fire Cubes

Biggest Unknown
Is there a material that can be safely used in a drink, that will produce heat but not be too hot? I'd like to use the same snap material used here. This material claims to rise up to 125 F and remain hot for 30 minutes and up to 3 hours. The ideal temperature for drinking coffee (according to the internets) is about 175 F. Additionally, using the coin material we would need to have a sealable, snapable, button on the outside to initiate the chemical reaction.

Cost Estimate
Cost of stainless steel, which it would need to be cased in is about 50 cents per pound. Based on other products we'd only need about 15 grams of steel, enclosing the phase change/chemical reacting material.

4. Fire Notes

Biggest Unknown
Is there a material that can be drawn on glass, react/appear when exposed to heat, and then be washed off easily?

Cost Estimate
A fire activated ink pen I found costs about $28. I wasn't able to find any heat activated paint prices or costs...

5. Marshmallow Rotisserie

Biggest Unknown
Will the heat produced by the fire, produce enough energy to create a thermal engine and rotate the structure and the food on the rotisserie? The structure must be lite.

Cost Estimate
I calculated I would need about 25 cents of iron to build the structure including a stand, poles, and concave heat paddles.

Assignment 5



Sub-theme: Fireplace
Problem Statement: How might we make fireplaces more interactive?

Part 1

We were to use SCAMPER to modify an existing product in our sub-theme or related to our problem statement. I listed out some ideas and drew the one that excited me most.

The product I used was a fireplace that has glass "logs" in it to make the flames come to life and dance more than usual. It's a modern/contemporary fireplace.

glass fireplace.jpg


  • Replace the clear glass with frosted or colored glass
  • Make the glass shards move (as opposed to stationary)
  • Replace the glass with ceramics, plastic, metal, etc.
  • Change the triangular shape to anything else
  • Turn flames into conducting wire, artfully wrapped around the shards of glass

Conducting wire that can be wrapped around the glass:



  • Pair thermal varying materials with isothermic glass, to get growing and segmented fireplace structures as it heats up
  • Temperature / color varying material with glass
  • Combine glass with fake wood logs
  • Glass tubes with perforations to suck in oxygen and allow for flames to occur inside tube. Then you can build structures with flame tubes!
  • Make entire log of glowing material. Glows when hot.

Flame Tube:

Glass tube fireplace.jpg


Are there other ways to re-direct the flames?

  • Fan or air
  • Moving obstructions
  • Moving flame source
  • Isothermal materials: glass, gaskets/rubber, fake logs
  • Have glass hang from the top versus stationary at the bottom

Hanging obstructions to move around in the fire:

hanging glass in fire.jpg


  • More glass pieces
  • More flames
  • Layered flames
  • Torch flames - Lots of BTU's!
  • Make fireplace size and thickness of a picture
  • Blend a gothic and modern fireplace?
  • Add: Lasers, sounds, smells, waves

Layered Flames:

layered flames.jpg

Put to other use

  • Fireplace/grill - has rods that can cook food
  • Freezer / cooker - CROCKPOT!! How cool would that be?!
Hot and Cold Crockpot:



  • Can you get the flames to look like their is an object in the middle of them, without there being one? Invisible log effect.
  • Remove glass beads on bottom
  • Small, unnoticeable flames. Can't see them, but they give off heat
  • Remove the glass screen. Can't burn yourself on hot glass, if there isn't any to burn yourself on!

Fireplace Picture (No visible flames, but it emits heat!):



  • Flames from the top and sides
  • Mirror on the back
  • Tinted film, dimming the light coming from the flame
  • Flames turn on when there is noise
  • Flames dim with noise
  • Pictures and videos play inside the fireplace
  • Hide flames
  • Make flames stable as possible, making them look like candles

Combining a few different components I saw through this process, I'd like to create a variable actuating gas fireplace. Flames can be stable, moving, produce wave effects, etc.:

Automated fireplace.jpg

Part 2

HIT Matrix

I did a hit matrix around the product from part 1. My two starting products were a fireplace and obstructions.


  • Gas

  • Firewood

  • Flames

  • Chimney

  • Mantle


  • Wood

  • Glass

  • Colorful

  • Stationary

  • Flexible

Below is the HIT matrix I made with these ideas:


Part 3

Re-hashing some of the silly ideas from the initial brainstorm I came up with a few ideas.

Previous: Smoke notes - Secret notes that would show their message after put into smoke.
New: Fire Notes - you can write a message on glass and when it gets heated up a message will appear.


Previous: Booby Trap - Bra that set you on fire
New: A body vest that had heat producing material that can be reset in your laundry machine.

body warming vest.jpg

Previous: Social Media Fire - Flame gets bigger for every like you get!
New: Social Media Fire - LED ticker on top of fireplace mantle shows the status update. Flame burst occurs in fireplace to signify a notification.


Previous: Indoor Sundial
New: Flame clock, put in front of fire and the hand/minute hands allow the flame to shine through, showing the time.

Flame clock.jpg

Previous: House hats - A hat to redirect the exhaust coming out of your house
New: Flaps that can open up inside your chimney, and filter into your HVAC system at the correct temperature.

house HVAC.jpg

Previous: Fire pyramids - keeps your drink warm
New: His and Hers fire cubes - keeps your drink warm and makes a warm reminder of your loved one (Awwww)


Part 4

Here are the current top ten ideas for products:






batmanlaser firestarter.jpg








Glass tube fireplace.jpg


Automated fireplace.jpg




Flame clock.jpg

Assignment 4



I recruited a great and diverse crew to help me come up with ideas!

As a reminder, my sub-theme is fireplaces.

My two "How might we..." statements are:

  1. How might we make gas fireplaces more interactive?
  2. How might we utilize waste heat from fireplaces?


I used a lot of Barry's material, to give them a background on the creative process and how play, creativity, and brainstorming are linked to innovation and idea generation. I gave them a few examples of silly ideas, cross products, etc.

We played three different improv games! First, Zip Zap Zop. It got everyones blood flowing and started breaking the ice.

4.jpgZip Zap Zop

The second game we played was Look at Me.

9.jpgLook at Me

The third game, was a variation of Look at Me. The first person would start with a motion and say the normal Look at Me line. The next person would have to say another Look at me, that was relevant to the previous motion, but they would have to come up with a new motion. Example: "Look at me, I'm pounding on a door..." (Person pounding on a door). Next person: "Look at me, I'm hammering a nail..." (Person changes their motion to pounding a nail on a table) It was quite interesting to see how quickly they could free associate and come up with a new motion and a new "Look at me...".

11.jpgLook at me, modified

How might we make gas fireplaces more interactive?

12.jpgFirst Prompt

We got right to it! I had them go for 25 minutes on the first prompt. I introduced a few enhancers. Rolestorming, random words, and reverse brainstorming along the way. As well as dark chocolate.

This resulted in 85 ideas in 25 minutes. About .7 ideas per minute per person.

15.jpgFirst Prompt

Here are top 5 ideas for prompt 1, as voted on by the group:

How might we make gas fireplaces more interactive?






Honorable Mentions for this category include:




The top 5 ideas for prompt 2, as voted by the group:

How might we utilize waste heat from fireplaces?






Honorable Mentions:


The second brainstorm was not as bountiful as the first. This may have been a function of time of day (we started the brainstorm pretty late, around 7:30 PM), a lack of inspiration, or just simple exhaustion.

The ideas per minute on the second prompt was 0.4. Much lower than the first brainstorm.


I talked with one of the participants the following day and after reflection he felt his formal, left brain training (B.S. in Physics, PhD in Physics and Statistics, 5 years in Investment Banking, and 2 years in the military) has left him incapable of generating "non-practical" ideas. He said he found it difficult to generate new ideas. I ensured that with practice (like any muscle) this could be worked back into his tool set.

Overall, I was quite pleased with the brainstorm and I think some interesting ideas were born as a result!

Assignment 3



This week the name of the game was research. Identifying needs customers/users have, related to our subtheme (known or unknown by the person(s)).


There are plenty of different areas to focus on within the fireplace sub-category. Consumer products, residential fireplaces, outdoor fireplaces, or custom/industrial fireplaces. I took some pictures and collected information through interviews on a little bit of everything and was able to glean a few problems.

Home Depot

My first stop to find information about consumer fireplaces, was the home depot in the quarry.


Interestingly, the only fireplaces this location sold were electric fireplaces and miscellaneous fireplace accessories (duraflame, lighters, screens, firewood, etc.). I interviewed Dave and Michelle of the gardening section, and they shared with me that fireplaces generally don't sell at this location. They couldn't really give me a reason why and kept saying "the further you go out, the more likely you are to see whole fireplaces selling". Last year, this home depot location tried to sell fireplaces but due to a lack of sales, they stopped the gas fireplace line.

I took a closer look at some of the fireplaces in the store and the one below is literally a flat screen!

flat screen.jpg

Some people I talked to in passing about this assignment actually have a brick fireplace, but because their land lord doesn't want to pay for cleaning the chimney they just watch a flame flickering on a cable TV channel! (Also, can you spot the purple orb in the photo? Spooky...)



I called a chiropractor from my hometown that I vaguely knew. I knew he is a big gopher fan and my original intent for the interview was to talk about how he stays warm during a tailgate. I started to ask some questions related to tailgating, and it turns out he just shivers and layers up to stay warm. No heat source! He did say he got a chance to sit by a sunflower heater that attaches to a propane tank and it was quite pleasant. I have experience with these heaters, using the during ice fishing, hunting, or camping trips.

I pivoted the conversation towards his personal fireplace in his home. Because him and his wife aren't home during the day he keeps the furnace temperature low and turns on the fireplace when he needs a little extra heat at night or in the morning. This means when waking up or getting home at night the house is just a little more cool than normal. He mentioned a couple issues he has noticed since moving into his house a year and a half ago.

  1. The fireplace dries the air quicker than with it off.
  2. He felt conflicted on what to do during the summer about his pilot light running. He wanted to turn it off but heard it would cause rusting damage to the pipes.

At the end of the interview he mentioned he bought a portable fireplace but because he lives in a town house and took a lot of work to set up he only used it once.


My last stop was the commons hotel on campus. Why? They have just went through a renovation and have two new, custom fireplaces.


The picture above is the outdoor fireplace near the entrance of the hotel.



The two pictures above show the indoor fireplace. It large and a focal point of the entire lobby. It has a massive hood that captures excess heat and smoke.

I interviewed the general manager and onsite engineer for a while about the two fireplaces. At a high level, they didn't have much say in the design or placement of the two products. But they shared a couple issues with me.


When they initially installed the indoor fireplace, it had a bad gas valve that blew and needed to be replaced.


The wind causes the flames to blow out and when they initially setup the fireplace they had to tweak the system to increase gas flow and get the flames as high as possible. When the flames blow out the system knows to shut itself down and restart but if it happens often enough the engineer has to manually reset the fireplace in order to get it operating efficiently again.

Both fireplaces in the hotel did not have a pilot light, rather an electric start.



I just observed the fireplace in the new recreational center on campus. The flame was off and not being used. The structure of the window panes intrigued me, though.


As you can see above, the fireplace has two solid window panes of glass separating the flame and the outside world. Why? Is this for protection? No one at the rec center had any answers for me.


The general manager at The Commons mentioned McNamara had a lot of issues with their water and fire setup. I went to do a little investigating.

McNamara has a beautiful fireplace in the lobby adjacent the their main event venue, seen below:



And then upclose, you can see a gross line of white caulk that seals the fireplace between the narrow band of water and the base of the fireplace:


Pretty gross! I haven't gotten to the bottom of why that needs to be there yet, but because I work in the building I will be able to dig into it.


1. Nick Johnson, a residential fireplace owner, needs a way to moisten the air because when he runs his fireplace the air becomes drier, faster.

2. McNamara Alumni Center needs a way to seal the fireplace water tight because water spills over the edge of the barrier between the fireplace and the moat causing failures in the fireplace.



There is a process for coming up with new ideas and this class is teaching us the details. On our off-site visit to HUGE improv, they emphasized that creativity is like a muscle that you can train and strengthen.

To get myself in the mood of creative thinking I tried a few different techniques. First, I watched my favorite TV show The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The first 10 minutes are usually packed full of jokes, ridiculing politicians and mass media organizations. I started my mind map after that, but wasn't feeling as playful as I needed to.




So then, I grabbed my violin and played for about 20 minutes. I played some simple disney songs and then I played Csardas Gypsy Dance (of course, not quite as good as Charlie Siem), a bit more challenging piece. It got my brain flowing in a different way!

My violin was passed down by my great grandfather who played his violin on ships back n forth between Germany and America. This is the violin he played in bars. It's had a couple face lifts, but it still has the richest sound I've ever heard in a violin!


Lastly, when I felt the need for further inspiration/a playful boost, I looked to reddit. A couple pictures that I found with the winter spirit and made me feel all fuzzy inside about the coming cold.

Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany

An entire album of a beautiful winter ski home!


Click the picture to get a closer view!

My mind map took me on an adventure through all the great memories I had growing up as a child. My family is high on outdoor activities no matter the season. We also had a cabin in Wisconsin to visit, with lots of land to explore and build tree forts!

A few activities I remember vividly:

  • Alpine skiing in colorado

  • Cross country skiing across a lake by moon light

  • On the verge of freezing solid while hunting

  • Snowmobiling

  • Building massive tree/snow forts


After reviewing my Mind Map, I pulled out three areas of emphasis where I have the most interest surrounding winter.


Many of my ideas (and experiences) surround trying to stay warm in winter. Maybe it's because some of the moments in my life when I've been most cold are "burned" (Haha) into my brain. Whether it's the lack of heat, trying to not lose it, or trying to not overheat, maintaining a comfortable temperature is a challenge in the winter months.

Here are some ideas for this sub theme:

1. Fuzzy Bum
For those cold nights when you don't want to use the toilet, for fear of frost bite.

2. Musical Snuggie
My violin has broken due to the cold. Wrapping it in a blanket, with an electric heater would prevent lots of damage!

3. Smart Gloves
Winter gloves to keep your hands warm, but will allow you to control your smart devices/laptop/computer/etc.

4. Twisty Hood
When I was hunting, and had my hood up I noticed I could never turn my head (and only my head) to look behind me without the hood blocking my view. I couldn't turn my shoulders because I needed to remain still!

5. Sweat 'B Gon'!
When I am doing winter activities I can never keep the right amount of clothes on, to stay cool or stay warm. I start sweating during many activities which leads me to be even colder when I stop moving! This jacket has one string you pull on and it activates multiple draw strings and will open up your jacket (or snow suit) and expose you to the cold, so you can cool down before you start to sweat!


I have many fond memories of skiing and have skied all kinds of terrain, ranging from cliffs in Wyoming to the rolling plains in Wisconsin.


This theme has a warm place in my heart. It's really hard to describe the feeling of watching a fire, smelling the burning cedar, and feeling it's warmth in the cold of winter.


Here are some ideas I came up with that don't really fit a theme...


1. Puzzle Sled
Inspired by legos, build a customizable sled with your friends before you go out!
puzzle sled.jpg

2. Dry Dog Suit
Our dogs would always come in from the outside soaked in snow during the winter and dirty the house! Put this on your dog before letting them out and the snow won't stick to them at all.

3. Holotree
A christmas tree that projects a hologram effect, so you can put fun effects on your tree! It will be completely fake, though....

4. Wheel Plow
A shovel that has a wheel attached to the back, constantly engaged giving you some power behind each push you make for those extra heavy snow falls.


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I wanted to blog this, so I could remember all the great lessons I learned today. Multiple themes were repeated in many of the games/exercises we went through today. I'd like to recap a few.


The first game we played had us throw each other an imaginary ball and pretend to drop it every time, while the group encouraged us to try again next time with fake cheers and clapping! It got us all feeling a little silly and uncomfortable right off the bat.

Lesson Learned: With improv/innovation/creativity, you have to accept that you are going to fail. Many times. You can't think of new things or take risks while fearing failure.


"Clams are great because..." was a great exercise in generating as many ideas as you can. They didn't have to be relevant to clams at all, but we wanted to create as many ideas as we could.


Multiple games we played, challenged your brain to think in a different way.


The games where we had to put more emotion into the actions we took, were more fun and often more creative.

Lesson Learned: The more engaged you are, the more fun and creative the outcome will be.


Assignment 1



I have a few words to describe my self. A baker is not one of them; this is an entirely new concept for me. However, I was excited to start thinking about cookies I've had and something that might be fun to make.

My cookie innovation is focused on form, texture, and "surprise". I enjoy biting into food that may not look super appealing or extraordinary and being blow away by the taste! A friend suggested he liked peppermint that was hiding inside of a cookie. I took it a step further....

My ingredients (you can see in the picture) are the basic ingredients for sugar cookies, with some frosting. I then included pop rocks.

I originally planned to bake the cookies with my pop rocks in the middle of the cookie. Right away I realized this would melt the candy and the rocks wouldn't be able to pop.

Sooo... I baked the sugar cookies in my "muffin" tray, so the cookies would rise up giving me room to build a pocket in them after I pulled the tray out of the oven. While the cookies were cooling I quickly stamped the middle down with a small spoon. Then when the cookie hardened and cooled, I put the pop rocks inside the pocket, and covered it with frosting.

My first batch, I used too much dough and the cookies were too big (my original plan was to have them bite size, so you got all the pop rocks in your mouth at once).

Excited for you to try them!

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