Assignment 7:


Armed with the top five product ideas from last week I created a pugh chart to compare and contrast the attributes of each idea. I used the categories of novelty, feasibility, marketability, clear need/market, and personal interest. I set the reel lights as my base and compared everything to that.

Based on the results I decided to choose the automatic windshield wipers. I brainstormed some ideas for a name, with options such as Clearly (not unique enough), Passive (doesn't really give off the meaning I want it to), Smart Blades, Clean Swipe, and others. I eventually arrived on the name Clearsmart Blades. It is more of a descriptive name than anything, but for now I think that is best.


Finally I made a video of my elevator pitch.

Assignment 6:


A quick recap of my top 10 ideas from last week as a refresher.
Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 12.03.53 AM.png

  1. Windshield Film
  2. Conductive Wire Lights
  3. Reel Lights
  4. Bike Lane Lightstrips
  5. Segmented Rod Lights
  6. Blind Lights
  7. Breath Warmth Dispenser
  8. Water Activated Colored Salt
  9. Lighted Collar
  10. Passive Wipers

This week we are looking at evaluating these ideas. To start I conducted a little benchmarking, polling a number of my Facebook friends through a survey about the ideas. For each idea I asked seven questions:

  1. "What do you think of this product?"
  2. "Would you use this product?"
  3. "Would someone you know use this product?"
  4. "Could you see yourself buying this product?"
  5. "How much would you pay for this product?"
  6. "Any other comments about this product idea:"

I took the data from the responses and put together some visuals. I started by looking at right at the values placed on the ideas in how much those surveyed would be pay for the product(blue). Then I realized that some products would cost more or less just based on the materials and functionality, not necessarily based on the innovativeness or usefulness. To account for this I added in two more bars, one for would buy(red) and one for would not buy(yellow).Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 1.20.25 AM.png

After analyzing the data, I decided to do a quick search online to see if there were any products out there that essentially do the same thing as my ideas. Based on this research:

Already Done:
Windshield Film
Lighted Animal Collar

Not Done:
Conductive Wire Lights
Reel Wrap
Bike Lane (forms have been done)
Segmented Light Rods
Light Blinds
Breath Warmth Hat (Humidifying before breathing has been done)
Water-Activated Colored Salt
Automatic Windshield Wipers (passive when car is off)

Based on this initial google search, I narrowed my options down to eight. Based off of data collected in surveys I picked five finalists. That are:

  1. Water-Activated Colored Salt
  2. Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 8.58.29 AM.png
  3. Automatic Passive Windshield Wipers
  4. I also came across the Rain Tracker rt-50a, which is an aftermarket add on for cars. This is irregular, as most of the product in this field currently is installed in manufacturing. As far as I can see there hasn't been any that work when the car is off.
  5. Lighted Bike Lane
  6. Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 10.28.44 AM.png There has been a lot done in this area on the side of the cyclist, using a light that puts out a range on the cement to ward off drivers. The problem with this is that it targets the cyclists that already have lights and night time biking gear. The area I see for improvement is in the broader area of all bikers. Portland and Seattle have done a little in the way of prototypes and reflective gear.
  7. Conductive Wire Lights
  8. Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 10.49.36 AM.png Exploring the space I couldn't find anything that did exactly the same thing, so I explored the space more generally, from how I imagine the electronics working to lights that are similar in style to what I'm thinking.
  9. Reel Wrap Lights
  10. Screen Shot 2013-12-04 at 11.02.22 AM.png There is nothing that inserts a layer between each wrap of light to improve the ease of taking them off at the beginning of the holiday season. I think there is room for innovation there.

Patent Search
Next I did a patent search on the ideas presented to find similar ideas.

  1. Water Activated Color Changing Salt
  2. There is a golf ball that changes color when submerged in water. In different iterations it either stays permanently colored, or just when it is submerged. This is the type of effect I'm imagining. (link)
  3. Automatic Passive Windshield Wipers
  4. Of course the patent for this one is the automatic windshield wipers. (link) This doesn't specify for during non-operation of the vehicle as I imagine it working.
  5. Lighted Bike Lane
  6. I found a chinese patent for a device that connects to the bike and displays a lane similar to what the LightLane above does. (link)
  7. Conductive Wire Lights
  8. An old patent, circa 1980, talks about having a central hub to control individual lights, but also be able to control the lights individually, which is what I intend to do, but the patent has all lights permanently connected. (link) I would intend to have the lights individual, but once wired, be controlled by a central source.
  9. Reel Lights
  10. There is a patent on the basic spool for winding strings of lights. There is a lot of room for innovation around this patent. (link)

Concerns and Estimates

  1. Water Activated Color Changing Salt

  2. My biggest concern is that this deals in a more chemical realm than a product realm. It would require major research to find a feasible solution. A base estimate for manufacturing is very hard to come up with this because it depends solely on the additional chemicals, which I can't identify at this point.
  3. Automatic Passive Windshield Wipers

  4. Biggest concern is that this may have to be done at the car manufacturing level rather than the consumer level because of the complexity of installation. I estimate the cost to manufacture as a small motor, a basic sensor, and a circuit board, which if produced in bulk, could be done for $10.
  5. Lighted Bike Lane

  6. My biggest concern is that the angle I'm looking at for this project is at an infrastructure level, which would require major commitment from a municipality, and that could be difficult. Individual lights could be done very cheaply, as you'd need an LED and basic circuit board. Possibly also a sensor or solar panel depending on choices for functionality. Again, in bulk, this could be done for less than a dollar.
  7. Conductive Wire Lights

  8. My biggest concern is the acceptance of conductive wire. The estimate is two strips of metal separated by a small piece of non-conductive material, probably a plastic, then individual lights. The lights could be done on the order of a couple cents a piece, and the wire with power source would probably be around $5 for material for a roll.
  9. Reel Lights

  10. My biggest concern is the competition. Others do a simpler process, but do it very cheaply. The product has to be exceptionally better. The estimate is a small amount of injection molded material, and a relatively durable plastic sheet to separate layers. The material could probably be obtained for $1, and the labor of putting it together another dollar, putting manufacturing at $2.

After researching the ideas, there are a couple I'm very excited about pursuing in the coming weeks!

Assignment 5:


Structured idea generation. There are many techniques that have been developed and utilized to take a product and generate a lot of innovative ideas in a short amount of time. One of these is the SCAMPER method. SCAMPER stands for Substitute, Combine, Adapt, Magnify/Modify, Put to other use, Eliminate, and Reverse/Rearrange. All of these concepts are applied to the thing in focus to generate alternative ideas and concepts. An example of the adapt modifier is that certain bullet trains have been adapted to mimic the kingfisher and reduce drag.

I applied the SCAMPER method to my theme of christmas lights.


I ended up choosing one idea from each category to develop in more detail. The sketches are below.

Substitute: Individual wireless lights.
Combine: Water activated colored salt. Identifies where ice is while melting it.
Adapt: Sticky wire, like cockleburs.
Magnify: Solid bars, segmented and connecting.
Put to other use: Lighted animal collar.
Eliminate: Tube lighting. Gets rid of the bulbs and provides easier storage.
Reverse: Lay lights instead of hang them.

Following the SCAMPER technique I completed a TILMAG matrix to develop some more related ideas.

From the TILMAG I developed three ideas.

Christmas Light Pegboard similar to light bright, but with christmas lights and can be displayed.
Tent Pole Lights fold up like tent supports.
Less, bigger lights.

The third step was to look at the ideas from the blue sky idea generation and decide if there were any that could be developed into an innovative idea, especially if it wasn't quite there in the original idea, but it presented some interesting concept. I came up with six ideas from further developing individual ideas, or combining a couple. All six are in my final ten below.

Finally I chose ten ideas, some from my christmas lights theme, some from other winter related brainstorming activities. These are the ten I will dig deeper into to decide on a final product idea.
1)Reel lights. The lights wind onto a spool, but a plastic covering is placed over them as the get on the spool to limit tangling from the protruding lights.
2)Conductive chord. The line is placed as desired, then clothes pin like lights are hung from the line.
3)Pre-established shape lights. Circles can be placed over trees and will sit at different heights based on the diameter.
4)Conductive, magnetic lights. The lights can be put on a tree that holds the lights magnetically.
5)Light blinds. The lights can be pulled to one side to provide better storage and easier hanging.
6)Solid bar, segmented lights. The bars have hooks to hang and can be connected to make long chains. No tangles.
7)Windshield, Ice free film. Place over the window and pull off the ice when you come back to your car.
8)Breath warmth dispenser.
9)Water activated colored salt. Identifies where patches of ice are while melting the ice and providing a colorful decoration.
10)Lighted animal collar. To keep track of your pets while letting them out at night.

Assignment 4:


How might we better hang Christmas lights?

How might we better store Christmas lights?

Based on problem statements developed through research and interviews last week about the topic of Christmas lights, I chose the two above and held a brainstorming session to develop ideas on how to fix them. My brainstorming team consisted of a group of my friends: Luke, Matt, Adam, and Miranda. I participated as well as facilitated the session.


Before we started the brainstorming, we tested out an idea generation game that I made up. To start, a theme will be given. We used outdoors. For 2 or 3 minutes, the participants write down all the ideas they can think of that fit into the outdoors theme, similar to developing a mind map (exercise, trees, water, sun, camping). After those two or three minutes, an adjective or verb descriptor is given. For outdoors, a natural adjective can be green. The participants then narrow their focus to green things outdoors (grass, leaves, gardening, solar power). These can be the same things as before, as well as new ones. Finally, after a couple minutes, another adjective or verb is given. We could say living (algae, grass, lizards, plants).

The thought is that the activity works with convergent thinking, associations, and pushing to develop different, more creative results. Towards the end options will seem limited, and hopefully the participants can be clever and push the bounds to come up with creative solutions.

Following, we completed the two brainstorming sessions. The second session seemed to go much more smoothly than the first. To start a couple of the participants were hesitant and critical of other ideas in spite of the directions otherwise. Looking back it would have been wise to do a quick five minute brainstorm for some random topic beforehand in order to get them more comfortable and aquatinted with a successful brainstorm. Regardless, we had a pretty successful session and came up with a number of creative and interesting solutions to the problems at hand. We ended the first session with a .35 ipm (ideas per minute) and the second session with a .45 ipm.


After we got done with each session we took the ideas generated and sorted them into categories. The categories ranged from the pretty straightforward 'stringed lights for trees' to the bizarre 'genetically developed trees'.

From there we each marked three ideas we thought were the best, whether it be because it was very novel and creative or particularly adept at solving the solution. From this, the top five in each of the problem statements were chosen. They are shown below.

How might we better hang Christmas lights?
Attach two points to the gutter and pull the lights across like blinds. Credit: Zach Fadness
The lights will float by using semiconductors. One of the more out there ideas, but super novel. Credit: Matt Ries
The lights are netted. You blanket it around your tree. Credit: Zach Fadness
The lights are wound like a spring. Starting from the top of the tree, you pull it down and it holds tights around the tree. Credit: Luke Mallory
Again from the top, the strings of lights roll out vertically using gravity to hang on the tree. Credit: Adam Kubat

How might we better store Christmas lights?
Lights wrap around rods that are then able to hang up in a closet. Credit: Adam Kubat
Plug the tree in and an electromagnet runs. Attach individual magnetic lights to the tree to use. Storage is in a box. Credit: Zach Fadness
The lights are in rigid segments for gutters. They unattached and are stacked to store. Credit: Adam Kubat
The lights unroll to be rigid, but upon bending roll into a spring, similar to the snap bracelets. Credit: Miranda Moen
When done with lights for the season, put them in a flexible coating, then wind them up and avoid tangles. Talked about vacuum sealing them as well. Credit: Adam Kubat

Assignment 3:



Christmas lights. A sign of winter's arrival, a major representation of the holiday season, and my theme for ethnographic research. I conducted a couple interviews discussing christmas lights and did some background research into uses and traditions associated with them. I put together the responses and information I collected and came up with a couple opportunities for improvement in the area of christmas lights, which I will discuss more in depth below.

lightsTo start I felt it would be appropriate to do some historical research into christmas lights. According to a 2011 Forbes article, Thomas Edison first crafted a strand of electric bulbs together in 1800 to decorate his laboratory. In 1882, his business partner Edward Johnson made a slight innovation, putting red, white, and blue bulbs in a strand around his christmas tree. From there, the White House adopted the use of electric lights on the christmas tree in 1895, and improvements in the hardware were made by GE in 1903, and Noma Electric Company in 1917. I was amazed to find that there is a thriving service industry today because of consumer concerns with tangles, safety, and storage. In general there is a huge market as christmas lights fall into the $6 billion industry of holiday decorations.

Another interesting topic I came across in my research was the vast amounts of additional energy consumption associated with christmas lights. I don't want to do the math, but an article in Wired did just that, and found the energy cost in the US for christmas lights to exceed $230,000,000. Of course, that was done assuming incandescent bulbs, which are becoming less typical as consumers switch to more efficient LED bulbs.

After conducting my initial research, I interview three people. The first was Carly, a self-proclaimed christmas light enthusiast. She currently has christmas lights as ambient lighting in her apartment and does a lot of holiday decorating by use of lights. She said christmas lights bring up memories of decorating for the holidays with her mom when she was younger. She said one of the things she likes most about christmas lights are their level of lighting. It is not too intense and is dispersed as a string more than a single light source. On the other hand, the strands of light are easily tangled or kinked, and a pain to store. Putting them up, especially outside, is a hassle with the untangling and safety issues of using ladders in often unfriendly weather conditions. One thing I found especially interesting was her mention of netted lights for bushes, which cut back on some of that hassle.

Second, I interviewed Liz. Some unique insights she gave were on the topic of the harshness of LED lights, and on series vs. parallel circuit strands. She talked to how LED's don't give off nearly the same type of light, and the LED bulbs are much more harsh and less pretty. Also that when outside, sometimes the lack of heat created by LED bulbs allows them to get covered by snow and ice. The other big point she made, along with the others I interviewed, was how strands of lights that are wired in series will go dead if one bulb goes out, and when that happens it is almost always just easier to replace the strand than try to find the bad bulb, which ends up being expensive.

Finally, I interviewed Matt. He talked about the enjoyment christmas lights add to the season, making it much more festive and positive in the face of worsening weather. His biggest set back with them comes from the process of hanging them. His words were "It seems as if they want to do anything but hang where I want them to."

Finally I tried to do an AskReddit post, but that didn't go over so well, getting a grand total of three responses.

From my data, I came up with a couple problem statements. The first is that Matt and Carly need a better way to hang christmas lights, because it is currently a hassle and can be unsafe. Secondly, Liz needs a light that is as efficient as the LED strands but provides the same type of light as incandescent bulbs. Lastly, there needs to be a better way to store lights to make them easier to use when putting up and generally more consumer friendly.

To close, I will link to a video from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation fitting into the christmas light theme.

Assignment 2:


This week we focused on humor and it's effect on creativity. For class we had the chance to go to HUGE improv and learn a couple games and strategies to help get your mind in the right place to be creative, or as a girl in my group said, "Get the creative juices flowing."

To go along with this concept of humor fostering creativity we were tasked with doing something that was fun and somewhat humorous to get us in a mood favorable to being creative. I watched the TV show Impractical Jokers which is a very awkward type of funny, sometimes bordering on inappropriately so, as it puts one of four guys in a situation where he has to complete tasks based on what the other three tell him. I always get a kick out of this show and usually find myself laughing uncontrollably at some point during it's half hour time slot.

Once this was finished and I was in the right mindset, I made a mind map of the theme for our class, Winter. The mind map is below.
mind map
As can be seen, my mind map got filled up pretty quickly within the constraints of the page. I felt I got to a lot of different areas of the space of winter. I started out with some of the common branches of what can be looked at, with food, weather, activities, vehicles, etc. From there I went to more specifics about winter in those categories, like warmth, layers, snowboarding. Even from there I got a bit more in depth. Eventually I reached the outer layers that provide some of the more uncommon thoughts that are associated with winter, like failing new year's resolutions, coniferous trees, and coke advertising.

From this we were to take three sub-topics that we would like to explore further. The sub topics weren't to be too obvious or too obscure. Over the course of the mind mapping I came across a couple ideas I thought would be fun and interesting to explore. They are christmas lights, snow removal, and new year's resolutions.

Finally we were to draw 10 somewhat silly ideas that fit within the space of our mind map. My ten are below.

Instead of shovel, just melt the snow and collect the water.

Hat not warm enough? Drivers not seeing you? Solar power will heat it up and provide light!
solar hat

Homemade soup for all! Just put in your favorite foods.

Those waterproof boots not working fully? Well at least your socks will keep you dry.
dry socks

The training wheels for winter bikers. Don't let the snow push you around.
bike skis

Sometimes headlights just aren't enough.
car paint

So you can keep skiing when it gets dark.
lighted goggles

Now the wrapping paper is part of the experience.
christmas wrapping

Maybe this will help you stay on track with that new year's resolution.
resolution tracker

Assignment 1:


Cookies. The delicious baked goods that bring back memories of childhood and good times. Most times cookies are bought in some form of pre-processed dough and put in the oven for a couple minutes to get them to the final product. The process of baking cookies from scratch though is more of an art. Different levels of sugars, fats, and flours result in radically different tastes and textures. Then there is dealing with the additional ingredients for flavors where nearly anything is possible. In order to explore the process of creating we were told to bake a creative cookie. Initial thoughts that came to mind were the american cookie, made with hot dogs and patriotism; and coffee cookies with just the right amount of caffeine. I gathered up all the things I thought would be interesting or innovative in a cookie and got down to business.


With my wide assortment of goods in front of me I had to narrow down my process. I have very minimal experience baking anything, let alone cookies from scratch. For this reason I decided to start with just the dough. I consulted the provided excerpt from Ratio, and formed some thoughts about combinations that would work and be interesting. I mixed four different dough combinations and tossed them in the oven.


1: White Sugar

  • White Sugar
  • Butter
  • Flour

2: Brown Sugar

  • Brown Sugar
  • Butter
  • Flour

3: Maple Syrup

  • Maple Syrup
  • Butter
  • Flour

4: Agave Nectar

  • Agave Nectar
  • Butter
  • Flour

As the pictures show, there was something wrong with the makeup of the white and brown sugar doughs. This worked out to be alright though as the agave nectar had a sweetness that I loved, so I decided to move on with that.

The next step was coming up with what additional ingredients I wanted to use in the cookie. I thought something sweet would go really well with the agave nectar dough. I have always loved fruit and decided to try out some combinations for my cookie. I have rarely seen cookies that have actual berries within the dough and thought it would be an interesting, healthier twist on the typical cookie. After much trial with the dough consistency and fruit combinations, I came up with a raspberry and a couple blueberries pressed into each cookie before placing them in the oven. A partial strawberry can then be used to garnish it.

I liked this combination a lot. The blueberries are tasty in the cookie, and the raspberry gives an explosion of flavor that seems more potent than the flavor of the raspberry before cooking it. Over the course of baking the cookies and coming up with the final makeup of my creative cookie I encountered a lot of things I haven't done before, and in doing so failed a lot, as can be expected when experimenting and creating. At first my dough was very runny and ended getting burnt on the edges as a result. There were experiments with ingredients to determine what went best together and how much of each to balance flavor. But through those obstacles I was able to come up with something I think is delicious and am excited to share with others. I got to the point where I knew what I had to tweak in order to get closer to the desired outcome and that was very cool. I'm looking forward to what the rest of this class has to offer. Learning through doing, creating through innovation.

The ingredients in my final product are:

  • Flour
  • Butter
  • Agave Nectar
  • Vanilla
  • Fresh Blueberry
  • Fresh Raspberry
  • Fresh Strawberry

A final picture will be posted soon after the class cookies are baked Monday night. Want to keep the fruit as fresh as possible!

final cookies.jpg

The final product!

Product Design 3701: Creativity and Idea Generation

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This blog will serve as a place to post the assignments for PDES 3701 and will cover varied topics having to do with creativity and idea generation. Stay tuned.

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Recent Comments

  • altxx045: It would be nice to see some preliminary ideas on read more
  • alfal003: Hello! I really think your elevator pitch is ready to read more
  • aixxx020: I loved that you did a calculation of total +s read more
  • armst429: First off, I think you did a relatively good job read more
  • Masha: Hi Zach, I like that you did a brief recap read more
  • crimm013: All around, your structured idea generation was really thorough, and read more
  • boraa015: Your SCAMPER documentation is very detailed. One issue I have read more
  • Marin Blair: Good job with this post. I liked the thoroughness of read more
  • bruex015: ++ You seem to have put a lot of thought read more
  • bost0131: I personally really adore Christmas lights (I have some hanging read more

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