The Last Assignment

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So I started off this last assignment with a phu chart to help me narrow down to a final product to present. Below I have a picture of the phu chart and listed 7 criteria to help me narrow down. Here are the seven criteria.
1.Will if bond family in a way I originally set out to do?
2.Will the product be memorable and be used for a long period of time?
3.Is it feasible to produce?
4.Does it stand out in the market?
5.does it encourage creativity?
6.Is it fun for kids and appealing for kids to buy? (will they both like to play?)
7.Is there a strong potential market?
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So my initial gut idea was the sound cubes(not the final name and I'll explain them later) and the phu chart helped confirmed that I should go forward with this idea. So the next step was coming up with a better name forsand cubes than well sound cubes. I had a friend from the creativity class Dan Rezekulov brainstorm names for the product(and some cool logos too!). Below are some sketches.

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Dan had a great idea coming up with OP its simple and I love it. since this is music Op-amps are often used in speaker circuitry, also OP could stand for opportunity. From here I drew my final sketches which included a logo consisting of the OP made out of a voltage supply and eighth note.

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I won't describe the product in text until after the video to test if you got the gist of the product in 30 seconds so you can give me feedback. And yes I did it in an elevator...thanks to Dan for recording me!

35seconds elevator pitch.mp4

So to clarify my product is made out of OP-cubes and OP-mats. You record sounds onto OP-cubes and place them on OP-mats. You can change tempo, volume, and the interaction of different cubes with the cubes(basically electronic effects like altering the frequency, cutting off certain sounds or adding onto them). Changing the distance between cubes or layout also effects the composition of the music(hence why the mat is needed). It's a multiplayer, interactive, fun game in which you improv new pieces of music which you can later save. To make it more intuitive, visceral, and cheaper the mat and cubes essentially act as controls. The game itself is downloaded on a computer, game console, or mobile device where the bulk of the calculations are done, how the game is displayed(TV or computer monitor), and where most of the sound comes from(home speakers, mobile speakers). I am estimating a set of one mat and three cubes to cost $60-$80, which may seem pricey but are less expensive then controls like rockband and kinect. I see great potentially for it to bond families at family gatherings and events and make all generations look forward to family gatherings because this game not only brings the fun into family gatherings but uses technology to make music a social interaction/cooperative experience again.

#6

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So this week (Assignment #6) I had to first eliminate five ideas based off of market research. The survey was then posted on my Facebook page where I had a picture of text for each object and a hand drawn picture to go with it. Here is an example of two pictures from my survey

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I did something similar for all ten objects and in my first slide asked people to comment below on what price they would pay for each of the ten objects.
Now before I go into the results I want to point out a few flaws with the way I conducted my survey.

-First when people can see the prices that other people would be willing to pay for an object this probably biases how much they themselves are willing to pay. Next time I should tell people to private message me their answers or use a private method of conducting surveys.

-Second some of the objects that I thought were the best did not make it to my top five which is somewhat disheartening. I may simply be attached to my ideas, but I do think that I failed to sell the ideas in my survey. Some of the ideas I liked the most were giant blocks of texts in the survey either because I was too excited to describe them or I had failed to really extrapolate on what the object was really about. In that sense I think for a few of my objects I failed to articulate the essence of the idea and got bogged down in details, of course I also might simply be too "in love" with my own creations, so nonetheless I'm letting them go.

-Third I didn't target my audience very well. The problem was that these are family gathering objects and so I think I should have focused more emphasis on surveying parents (since they are the most likely audience to purchase these products), although responses from younger people is still valuable since they are part of the family too.
Before I narrow down the list here is the overview of the ten I came in with (To save time and space I will only be posting pictures of the ones I selected later on)

1. Sound Cubes-You can record sounds, place them on the mat with other sounds that other family members made and rearrange them to make unique songs.

2. Family cookbook app-family recipes are on the cloud and can be downloaded on phones. Recipe as well as cultural background and family stories are included with the food.

3. Blast from the past- card game to pick out old memories around the house and share them on Christmas.

4. Time capsule- Stories, ideas, pictures, videos, and music are all stored on this device and shared on a weekly basis. Family members can respond to stories by writing their thoughts or asking questions and continue a dialog. Then during a major holiday families review the time capsule. It's basically a fun and neat way to capture family dialog in a scrap book without the pain of making it yourself or having to keep track of it. The computer organizes things based on patterns like facial recognition, commonly used words, date posted etc.

5. Table game cover. A cover that goes on the table meant to act as a way of keeping conversations lively and keep families at the dinner table even after all the food is finished.

6. Modular table. Individual one person components are rearrange-able. More space efficient, table can be tucked away so that more family space is afforded.

7. Storyteller- gives random prompts(if desired) and contains a voice recorder. Family members (Grandparents especially) can tell their stories and have them recorded. The object also act as a way to signal who is speaking and give said person a center stage.

8. Drawfreak- Small hand sized tablets that can be used for a multitude of family games. The tablets can also assemble together into one larger tablet so that families can admire everybody's work at once.

9. Creative juices- Family members write down their goals for the year on New Year's and proceed to generate ideas as to how to attain those goals. This card game is essentially the brainstorming facilitator. It gives out tips for brainstorming and offers strategies like brute think and the like, also comes with a playful timer button to make sure all family members get a chance to have their goals be brainstormed.

10. Family timeline- Family members can share pictures, major events, on their own timeline or a family member's timeline. Voice memos can be recorded too(like a journal). These timelines are loaded onto the cloud and can be seen on any family member's family timeline app. They can click to listen to their thoughts even if they are far away or don't have time to make a call. I'm not quite sure how to make it particularly winter themed.

Now I had a lot of trouble narrowing down the last few objects based on market survey analysis but here is how far I got

1. Sound cubes-by far the most popular, Got responses of $15-$40 dollars a set (a mat and three cubes). Everyone responded to this.

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2. Table top cover game- For the responses I did get I received $5-20, almost as many people responded as with the sound cubes.

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3. Blast from the past- answers ranging from $1-20. The two adults however were willing to pay much higher than the younger folks. Since cards aren't hard to manufacture most production costs would go into designing the game to be fun and keeping it memorable over holidays, not easy but still seemed feasible and I feel like older folks definitely have some great memories to share.

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4. DrawFreak- this one was hard to position. There was definitely interest for a cheap tablet that everyone could doodle on or play games on. I got prices ranging from $15-$100. I think a basic game tablet for the family would be do-able but what's stopping people from just downloading a drawing app onto their iphone or tablet since they're almost ubiquitous?

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5. Creative Juices- Price ranges from$2-15. About $7 on average. Material costs sound very cheap, once again it's about making it fun, I think streamlining brainstorming ideas has great value and creative fun potential.

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6. Modular Table- I added this one because I felt like it was too close to be eliminated. People were willing to pay from $20-250. I think there was a bit of a miscommunication because I don't think there are any even half decent tables available for only $20, I think some people meant to say that each component of the table was $20 and assuming a regular table can host 6 people I assumed the price was $120. Going on this assumption I am sticking with this idea until I do more cost analysis.

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1. Here is a list of some of the objects I used the matrix below
-Munchkin Mozart Magic Cube $25,
-Imaginarium Wooden Circular Musical Activity Table($40),
-Musical Slices Of Fun Table MSRP: $329.99,
-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactable (Mobile version $10), $2000 to rent a reactable for a month,
-PS3 Guitar Hero 5 Guitar Bundle $160 for a bundle

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Above I have two matrices I made for products related to sound cubes. One is called the reactable the thing that actually partly inspired me to begin with. With the sound cubes I am hoping to aim for an area where both young and old people are encouraged to interact, guitar hero does this well but doesn't really offer any freedom to make music. The reactable mobile game seemed like the closest object in that it offered lots of freedom and was affordable and as a bonus had a community to share songs. What was missing was that multiple person interaction that had left me and my Dad with even greater impressions when using the reactable in the Chicago Museum of Science. Unfortunately, the tables themselves are incredibly expensive. The kids toy offered more affordability and some creativity but weren't appealing to older kids or adults.

Market: Appeal to wider range of ages. Make affordable (below $100). Allow for lots of creativity and make it a group activity.

Cost analysis: To significantly lower costs the mat could be able to display its reading on a computer monitor or TV. There is also talk about being able to turn many surfaces into touch screen interfaces using vibrations. In this case using the mat could simply track where cubes are process data and display the interactions on screen as well as the sound. Or the mat could be removed and each individual cube could provide data to a central processor that could keep track of distance between cubes and determine what sound they should make.

I don't know how much it would cost to create hardware that could handle the programs that keep track of the cubes and run complex algorithms but the cubes and mat could act as physical interfaces for say a tablet, smartphone, or computer to process. Basically the product is a controller and the software can run on anything from a mobile device to a console. In which case costs are devoted to the controller costs and software costs.

Fancy controllers like guitar hero guitar, playstation move, Kinect, rock band drum set cost from $30-120. Since these controllers are fairly basic I'm going to guess $40 to produce a set of sound cubes.

Related Patent searches: Interactive music software
https://www.google.com/patents/CN2724779Y?cl=en&dq=music+games&hl=en&sa=X&ei=CEmfUpGRBemwyQG494DwAw&sqi=2&pjf=1&ved=0CE4Q6AEwAw

https://www.google.com/patents/WO2005114648A1?cl=en&dq=music+games&hl=en&sa=X&ei=CEmfUpGRBemwyQG494DwAw&sqi=2&pjf=1&ved=0CHoQ6AEwCQ


2. Items on the matrix
-Linen Table cloth 60 x 126-Inch Rectangular Polyester Tablecloth $10
-Benson Mills Gourmet Spillproof Heavyweight Fabric Tablecloth $17
-Jumbo Checker Rug Game $13
-Da Vinci 2-Sided 36-Inch x 72-Inch Texas Holdem & Blackjack Casino Felt Layout $17
-Ticket To Ride $35
-Settlers of Catan $40

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I'm sure there are some examples out there but in general there aren't that many deeply compelling games that are cheap, which is fine after all that's why they cost more. A solid game that can be used as a table cloth has a lot of playability because it's always out, even higher quality cloth doesn't appear very expensive either. There were hardly any games that combined these components, any games that did were remakes of old games like checkers and poker, but there was nothing original in the same way that Ticket to Ride or Settler of Catan are.

For a good game people would be willing to pay up to $30. If I want to take advantage of the market I could go for something in the range of $15 dollars to make it really competitive and not just for board game enthusiasts.

3. & 5. I'm grouping these two together because they're the same principal. A card game with a possible electric component(a timer) and possibly an app.
Items on the matrix
-Cards agains humanity $25
-Catch phrase $30
-Uno $5
-Big Book of Brainstorming Games $20
-Thinkpak: A Brainstorming Card Deck $15

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So as you can see the high tech games are dominated by mobile apps but one thing I did leave out was face to face interaction. Lots of hi tech games aren't there to enhance human to human interactions. So why not use technology to better enhance real world games? Catch phrase is just the beginning of how this tech can enhance face to face interactions, video games that allow split screen gameplay as well.

So why not make a card game that somehow takes advantage of all the mobile technology? Even something as simple as keeping track of winners of previous games

Cost analysis: cards range from $5-$30 and apps usually cost 99 cents to $10.
For a high end card game with technology implemented in it I can see it costing $10-$20 with a downloadable app included when buying the cards.

Related patents:

https://www.google.com/patents/EP1532312B1?cl=en&dq=table+cloth+game&hl=en&sa=X&ei=HkqfUu-eOMiGyAG_9oCwDw&ved=0CEwQ6AEwAw
https://www.google.com/patents/USD105610?dq=table+cloth+game&hl=en&sa=X&ei=HkqfUu-eOMiGyAG_9oCwDw&ved=0CHYQ6AEwCQ


https://www.google.com/patents/CA2195329C?cl=en&dq=table+cloth+game&hl=en&sa=X&ei=HkqfUu-eOMiGyAG_9oCwDw&ved=0CD4Q6AEwAQ


4. Drawfreak
Items on the matrix:
Venpad $40
Wacom 6x4" $90
Cintiq $2000
Vis tablet $70 10x6
Bamboo pad $80

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As the matrix indicates there aren't many tablets that are large and cheap, and for the price range and size I am looking for none. This could be due to the fact that these tablets have good pressure sensitivity (500+levels). This allows people to vary brush stroke width and intensity while drawing. Unfortunately I didn't specify a tablet size in my survey (another flaw I regret). With these prices in mind I think two markets emerge.

The first is the casual consumer base. Large tablets with a low amount of pressure sensitive levels that could be broken into smaller tablets so more people can play games and draw. To stay within the causal range the costs would probably mean starting under $120. It's possible that with very low sensitivity this is possible but I am baffled as to how to even guess.

Second market. As I researched I remembered the lack of possibility to collaborate with other digital artists. Very few tools allow digital artists to do collaboration work on the same canvas. There are some online programs that allow for this but a game program or a plug-in that would allow for say two or more users to connect their computer together (wireless or LAN) and draw together with high depth programs like Photoshop or paint tool sai sounds like an untapped market that needs further research. That being said programs cost from being free up to $600 giving a wide range of possibility. Knowing there are open source programs like GIMP out there and Photoshop I think it's quite feasible to make what is in essence a higher fidelity online drawing canvas for $80 assuming it's a standalone program.

Pressure sensitivity patent
https://www.google.com/patents/EP1256902A1?cl=en&dq=graphics+tablet&hl=en&sa=X&ei=B0ufUtqXKqSayQG7poDQBg&ved=0CEcQ6AEwAg


7. Modular table
Items on the matrix:
Meco $40
Cappuccino Rectangular Dining Table 180
Fractal Nicholas Karlovasitis & Sarah Gibson $ 1,950.00
Applaro $400
Agam chair $40
Lacko outdoor set $100

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From taking the price of a table divided by how many people sat by it, it seemed like each person had to pay $30-60 for one space at a table. With that in mind the question is for this same cost can we produce a modular table (with legs, easy to maneuver, and possibly a mechanism to more firmly attach modular pieces together). I found the Meco table was for $30 to $40 for space of 3'x3' with fold out legs. Using the same material but making six of them would only cost $180 to $300. Designing the tables in a structurally sound manner that look as cool and are as modular as the fractal table (in the upper right side of the matrix) could be pretty competitive product since there are none like its kind under the $1000 price
Modular table legs patent
https://www.google.com/patents/US8550015?dq=modular+table&hl=en&sa=X&ei=RUufUsHlKOaNygH3poGADA&ved=0CDkQ6AEwAA

Assignment #5 Structure

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So for part 1 of this blog I'll just go through 8 ideas I came up with using the scamper method.
As a reminder here are my "how might we" problems.

How might we get younger and older generations to interact more during family gatherings(especially during winter)?

How might we encourage and engage family members to share stories in order to develop a stronger family narrative (especially during winter)?

I then thought of an object that might be prevalent at winter family gatherings, and since food is very common I decided to go with table. For most of my scamper ideas below it involves changing and modifying tables so that they better address the above two problem statements.

This first scamper idea addresses both substitute and magnify questions.
Can the rules be changed?-substitute
Can I add extra features?-Magnify

Here I decided to add a gaming component to the table. It keeps family at the dinner table longer, prevents children from getting bored, and is friendly enough to keep old and young alike entertained. In addition I was thinking prompts could fly around the table and family members would have to pass them to each other.

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Another substitute question I asked myself was can I use a different energy source?
A bit abstract but basically access to laptops and things that may cause families to break up after dinner would lose power until the family solved a puzzle or completed a task displayed on a table or board.

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Combine

Family dinner combined with a time capsule. This idea was inspired by an idea I came up with while in Leonard's Basement. It's basically a HUB for memories to be stored and ideas to be exchanged, when the new year comes families get access to what these things were and get to review them together as a family. Photos, big events, accomplishments, fears, and stories could all be uploaded and responded to.

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Adapt

As computers are becoming increasingly apt at identifying faces and recognizing patterns why not use those programs to implement a self-making scrapbook. Members post pictures with text and descriptions the computer analyzes these patterns and creates a personalized family scrapbook that the family looks at together at Christmas, the best part is that people forget what they uploaded in the beginning of the last year and so it's fun to look back at those memories.

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Another Adapt
I looked up what primates do for social activities. Turns out they groom each other a lot. Maybe a family Salon product that families could buy to do things like paint nails a mustache grooming kit and haircut set so that family members could in a sense "groom" each other without having to pick ticks off.

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Magnify
See the first picture.

Put to other use?

I remember seeing giant posters on tables in restaurants that people could draw on while waiting for food. Why not apply this to the common table?

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Eliminate

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Reverse

Changing the layout?
Tables are always seen as immobile, take up space and hard to get around. What if the table components where modular instead? Family members could shuffle about to talk to one another easier or set up the table differently so as to offer more opportunities for interaction.

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For part 2 I made a HIT matrix. Comparing Board games to Tables
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Here's one of the ideas I drew out. It's a cover that acts as a board game. The different food or types of silverware and dishes have different effects on the rules of the game. Throughout the game players are encouraged to talk about their day.

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Part 3.

Most of the ideas that came from the blue sky generation session weren't product ideas, but more ideas on how to accomplish the how might we statement I proposed, so below I have some pictures that take these concepts and try to make them into actual products. Once again the statements are

How might we get younger and older generations to interact more during family gatherings?

How might we encourage and engage family members to share stories in order to develop a stronger family narrative?

One of the blue sky ideas was group improv beat boxing. When I thought of how to turn this idea into a product I remembered this cool table I saw at the Chicago science museum that had these cubes you could place on the table. When placing the cube on the table the table would make different sounds according to what cubes where on it and how they were organized. I thought this was a cool idea but it seemed really expensive and not specifically family oriented. So what I thought up was a set of cubes and a mobile mat. Cubes would have sounds recorded onto them, then would be placed onto the mat and organized in various matters to effect the tempo, rhythm, loudness etc. The mat could also attach to external speakers to get louder. On Christmas prompts would come up like record bells onto the cubes, or sing Christmas sounds into them, then family members could play around with the cubes and make their own music, which they could later save as an mp3 and play while setting up Christmas decorations for the following next year.

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This next one was difficult to change from more of a ritual to an actual product. It was clean out your basement and talk about those objects. I was thinking this could be implemented with a simple card game. Cards would have special prompts that said things like "find something of personal significance in the basement." So what if families had prompts to find stuff in the basement the night before Christmas wrap them up and put them under the tree? People would open them up and the person who picked the object would describe the story behind it. I'm not sure how to make it a real product yet, but it sounds like a good time.

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This next idea was taken from family cook book idea. Basically it's an app that contains all the recipes the family can upload through an app and share with one another in an ebook format on their phone, computer, or tablet. They could also describe the food background or stories related to the food in it. The only way of connecting this to Christmas seemed superficial and that was a Christmas holiday or having season themed sections in the book.

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This next one is a hodgepodge of ideas. It encompasses retelling an old story with a modern twist idea, draw your story out, scrap-booking in one. This one is essentially the idea I had for the table time capsule just without the table, and trying to combine all these elements and ideas was basically what resulted.

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Part 4
For this last part I kept all the ideas I made from part 3 and put them into my notebook. All of the ten NUF ideas are listed below, some are slightly revised versions of ideas seen earlier in the blog others are made up on spot.


1. Sound cubes- same idea as in part 3. You can record sounds place them on the mat with other sounds that other family members made and rearrange them to make unique songs.
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2. Family cookbook app-family recipes are on the cloud and can be downloaded on phones. Recipe as well as cultural background and family stories are included with the food.

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3. Basement clean out game- card game to pick out old memories around the house and share them on Christmas.

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4. Time capsule- same as before. Stories, ideas, pictures, videos, and music are all stored on this device and shared on a weekly basis. Family members can respond to stories by writing their thoughts or asking questions and continue a dialog. Then during a major holiday families review the time capsule. It's basically a fun and neat way to capture family dialog in a scrap book without the pain of making it yourself or having to keep track of it. The computer organizes things based on patterns like facial recognition, commonly used words, date posted etc.

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5. Table game cover. A cover that goes on the table meant to act as a way of keeping conversations lively and keep families at the dinner table even after all the food is finished.

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6. Modular table. Individual one person components are rearrange-able. More space efficient, table can be tucked away so that more family space is afforded.
modular table notebook.jpg

7. Storyteller- gives random prompts(if desired) and contains a voice recorder. Family members (Grandparents especially) can tell their stories and have them recorded. The object also act as a way to signal who is speaking and give said person a center stage.

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8. drawfreak. Small hand sized tablets that can be used for a multitude of family games. The tablets can also assemble together into one larger tablet so that families can admire everybody's work at once.

drawfreak notebook.jpg

9. Creative juices- Family members write down their goals for the year on New Year's and proceed to generate ideas as to how to attain those goals. This card game is essentially the brainstorming facilitator. It gives out tips for brainstorming and offers strategies like brute think and the like, also comes with a playful timer button to make sure all family members get a chance to have their goals be brainstormed.

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10. Family timeline- Family members can share pictures, major events, on their own timeline or a family member's timeline. Voice memos can be recorded too(like a journal). These timelines are loaded onto the cloud and can be seen on any family member's family timeline app. They can click to listen to their thoughts even if they are far away or don't have time to make a call. I'm not quite sure how to make it particularly winter themed.

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So those are my ten possibly feasible ideas! Some of them have a decent amount of overlap and some don't seem particularly winter focused. Perhaps with some more thought I can combine some of these ideas and make them more winter focused like say incorporating Christmas stockings or something.

Family Gathering Brainstorming

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So just to recap here are two of the problems that I developed in my last blog post. I choose these two out of the four that I had.

1. How might we recount and share family narratives during family gatherings in a way that is engaging and meaningful.

2. How might we encourage newer and older generations to both share their stories and reconnect in an engaging manner in order to develop a stronger inter-generational self, increase family stability, and develop stronger bonds even with extended family.

In my last blog post I mentioned one of the things I regretted was not interviewing any adults to get their perspective on family gatherings, so for this week I had my parents join in the brainstorming. The other six people were all members of the Digital Art Studio, as you might notice later on in some of the ideas there were a fair amount of creative drawing and digital games that came up.

In total I had 8 people including myself in the brainstorming session.

We started out playing a few improve games for about a solid twenty minutes, though I made sure to restate the problems in the beginning of the session.

The first improve game was "samurai" which our class played a few lectures ago. At first it was a little rough coordinating and timing but as the game progressed and more people made more eye contact clearer body motions and the attacks got faster
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The second game we played was "Look at me". We went around the circle each time before we changed any motions and we got some interesting actions from flesh eating zombie to churning butter.

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The third and final game which I made up was inspired by a random drawing game and Pictionary. Since we were in stss there were large drawing boards. I took advantage of this layout. First everyone would start on their own board and draw a random shape, then shortly after everybody rotated to the next board and had to make that previous random drawing into something by adding onto the random part left behind. Before anybody moved on to the next board they had to leave behind a new random mark for the next person to add on to. This continued for six rotations so we didn't get a chance to come full circle, time was running out and I didn't want to keep people to long so brainstorming had to begin.

Below are some of the masterpieces that came out.

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To be honest it wasn't until the brainstorm session that I realized both problems sounded very similar. To make up for this I decided to switch it to sharing family narratives and stories and how can we get old and younger generations to interact more. Their certainly could be some overlap but there was more separation now. I decided to have people brain storm ideas for both how might me problem statements since there could be some overlap; the brainstorming lasted for a total of forty minutes.

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We started off by doing an open brainstorm session in which everybody had to write/draw out ideas and then state it before posting it on the wall. I liked this technique because it was a great way to start building off of ideas and giving people confidence in their ideas because people listened. Unfortunately, it hit me how hard it is to come up with new ideas and listen at the same time. As a brainstorming facilitator I should have made it clearer that ideas should be explained rather quickly. It wasn't a big deal and in some instances it helped, but it did somewhat bog people down. In addition, I was a bit cheap with the brainstorming cards. I don't know if the posted note cards were too small but occasionally I found people cramming in sentences rather than pictures, once again not a huge deal now but later on it made it harder to vote or just overlook.

The last part of the brainstorming session I wanted to make more fluid. This time people would write down ideas and post them to their right. The next person could write down their own ideas or look to their left (were the other person had their ideas laid out) for inspiration and build off of them. 10 minutes in we presented each of our ideas.
At the end of the session we had about 1.5 ideas per minute and so roughly .3 ideas per minute per person. Not a large ratio, there are opportunities for improvement in my brainstorming facilitation. It might have been better to give a clearer set of rules in the beginning. Also not everybody in the session was primed earlier in the week with the how might we statements. Only a few that I knew would be coming came in with some time to think beforehand.

Next we silently ordered the ideas for five minutes and voted on them. A green sticker represented most creative ideas and pink represented ideas people think they would like to implement (although I didn't make it very clear if they had to be feasible or not). Each person had five votes with each color.

Below are 5 ideas for family narrative prompt then the inter-generational interaction prompt. There wasn't a clear best five for the second prompt since a lot had the same number of votes.
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The one above could be used for either prompt.

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From the one above you can tell the idea was expanded upon and passed around.

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Next prompt

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Recipes cook together and learn old family dishes

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So the brainstorming session was definitely successful and I'm just going to shout out and say thanks to the people that came to the session I really appreciate you!

a couple of things I learned that maybe I could improve on.

-Ask EVERYBODY to bring in ideas or make sure to have a clear prompt laid out for everyone

-State the guidelines for session more clearly

-Find way to more seamlessly transition from group brainstorming to more individual brainstorming.

Family Gatherings

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So my topic for this assignment was family gatherings. As a summary for my process I began by conducting three interviews with people two from American and some European backgrounds and one with an Indian background. I jotted down notes from the interviews and looked for commonalities and avenues for improvement (my end goal was to make family gatherings a much more enjoyable and meaningful experience). After finding these the negatives and positives I tried to understand why the negatives existed, a fair amount of surface level questioned were answered in the interviews, but I had to dig deeper and that's where the observe and experience phase came into play. Unfortunately, I was limited in what I could experience/observe at the moment so research and recollecting on my own past experiences was incredibly important for this stage. After this stage I filtered once again to find the underlying problems, and opportunities for improvement. This stage hinted at some solutions related to what makes families stronger, not necessarily particular products. In the end I did feel somewhat confident about my conclusions of what was lacking and what was causing this underachievement at family gatherings.

Below is a picture of my iPhone voice memo app. I used this app to record the interviews which I later listened to again and jotted notes on. I then funneled these notes onto a single large white board (which I will describe later) and underlined positive areas of the interviewees stories and negative aspects, trying to make connections between each.

[iPhone]
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The interviews took about seven minutes each, this allowed me to cover more perspectives on family gatherings and ask more why questions. All three interviews were with college students at the U of M. By now I realize I could have gotten a parents perspective on the matter, on the otherhand I wanted to to see how other family gatherings compared to my own from people in similar perspective (More controlled factors such as age, education). Interestingly I got different cultural perspectives my first and third interviewees were from American families (one with a primarily German backgrounds) and the second interviewee had an Indian background, compared with my own experience, this seemed to provide an nice variety but also similarity in culture. Two of the people that I interviewed I met this semester, one at the beginning (the first interviewee) and one just a few days before(the second interviewee), the last I had met the previous semester.

Next I made three pages of notes on each interviewed person. These pages are messy and unorganized so I will not go through them, I compiled this data onto my white board which allowed me to better organize and capture the essence of each interview.
Below is the first white board image, I go into detail about what I learned from each interviewee. The text below the second white board image describes some of the connections I found.

[First whiteboard image]
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First Interview

-Divorced parents cause separate celebration for mom and dad side. These gatherings are small.

-Enjoys seeing Grandparents, Aunts, and Uncles.

-Together time primarily consists of eating together and opening presents.

-Family members usually participate in individual activities before and after present opening/family dinner time. The time the family is together lasts approximately 1 hour.

-Doesn't know cousins that well or extended family.

-Loves visiting his Grandma at the nursing home with his siblings. Enjoys the food and talking to her. Family photos are a challenge (but he treats it like a game)

-Notes on interviewee: Good eye contact, pleasant though not excited.

Second Interview

-Indian background

-Music related gatherings in winter called Dasara. Concerts are usually at temples but sometimes at home.

-Strongest impression of rituals, setting up god idols takes 9 steps, specialized food for occasion.

-Children and adults enjoy themselves on relatively separate avenues.

-Smaller families go to larger events.

-Notes on interviewee: Most eye contact and positive feelings. Excited demeanor.

Interview 3

-Dad side 9 people visit, mom side upwards of 25 but gets smaller as families are forming. They celebrate separately due to grandparents not liking each other and distance.

-More relatives in age group but some cousins are socially awkward. Enjoy catching up with one cousin and her family in particular.

-Not close with most of extended family at all.

-Family reunions (the large ones) are described as a S%&*# storm.

-Amazing food but lack of good interactions.

-Some good parts but overall stressful and difficult.

-Cousins live close to one another. she can feel a bit disconnected for that reason.

-Summer cottage story, two "socially awkward" cousins didn't help set-up and take down the cottage because Aunt and Uncle believed that their awkwardness was enough of a reason for them not to help. Described as a "big fiasco".

-Interviewee notes: Least eye contact, stressful, more focused on negatives.

[Second whiteboard image w/ connections]
white board connectionsedit.jpg

Connections made/Realizations

Food seems to play an important role in bringing families together, it gives an opportunity to bond and a better more relaxed environment for socializing. However these positive effects can be neutralized and lose meaning when people fail to talk and get along.

Opening presents, food, and music seem like primary facilitators in providing relaxing environments for families to interact in. This provides both a foundation but also an opportunity for improvement (what other avenues can be explored that encourage family members to learn something meaningful about one another and talk to other generations).

Families typically celebrate small, the people I interviewed do not know extended family that well. Cousins can be difficult to get to know over long distances and as close families grow it feels like extended families moves apart. It can be awkward talking to cousins, if all the cousins live together and you don't.

After the main events or before big events people tend to isolate and split off. For the Indian student that was interviewed it felt as if the family both prepared together and had a longer period of togetherness, there really wasn't a place for an individual to hide away and the music concerts tended to keep people in a social area.

Families have to feel like everyone is contributing otherwise tension is a focal point. The third interviewee described her thoughts and dissatisfaction with two able bodied cousins not helping because they were socially awkward and the Aunts and Uncles justifying this because of their social ineptitude. This is of course one perspective, but for a family to feel cohesive requires contribution from all members; this is contrasted with the strong sense of responsibility in the Indian interview.

Strong rituals and ideas of what you're supposed to do seem to decrease tension since then everyone has a role and nobody is doing all the work, yet at the same time grandparents seems to love making food for children, this provides them with an excellent opportunity to sit down and talk with grandchildren as perhaps food keeps kids from getting restless(or making socializing and connection easier)(first interview).

Children and adults mingle a bit but mostly enjoy their festivities on a separate avenue, is this a good thing or potential area to improve upon? The first interviewee seemed to have a stronger desire and joy from talking to older generations, and as later research shows this is important.

Separate celebrations for mom and dad side. Seems more manageable but also makes a greater sense of disconnect.

In-between and after these interviews I began my research phase.

Research phase

First I looked up the importance of family mealtimes. General data has shown that eating with family is beneficial, however as this NY times article claims as well as a study at Cornell University the quality of the conversation and engagement is more important than the actual meal. Meals appear to facilitate discussion but it still requires effort to make the most of these occasions.

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/01/opinion/sunday/is-the-family-dinner-overrated.html?_r=0

Here is a good quote I found from the Cornell study "Family meals may provide a unique context for parents to connect with and share important information with their children."(Musick&Meier)

Source: http://www.human.cornell.edu/pam/outreach/upload/Family-Mealtimes-2.pdf

These next quotes are taken from an African-American Family Reunions pdf. It provided a better context into why we have family gathering rather than just to see people in our bloodline because it we are told to.

"Rituals have a symbolic form and provide family with a sense of identity as well as provide meaning to and stabilization of family life"

They provide a bridge between generations

Rituals help mediate life transition and deal with them without a sense of disruption or discontinuity (examples wedding and funerals).

"What people are seeking is not so much the home they left behind as a place that they feel they can change, a place in which their lives and strivings will make a difference-a place in which to create a home"

Source: http://www.rcgd.isr.umich.edu/prba/perspectives/springsummer2004/miller.pdf

Next I stepped across another New York Times article about creating happy families as well as a TED talk by the same individual who wrote the article.

Source(1): http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/fashion/the-family-stories-that-bind-us-this-life.html

Source(2): http://www.ted.com/talks/bruce_feiler_agile_programming_for_your_family.html?embed=true

"A surprising theme emerged. The single most important thing you can do for your family may be the simplest of all: develop a strong family narrative" (source 1)

Wow connection anyone?! Just last week I had finished reading A Whole New Mind an assigned reading in our class. It mentioned a high touch concept called "organizational storytelling which aims to make organizations aware of stories that exist within their walls- and then to use those stories in pursuit of organizational goals." If you read the book then you know the importance of storytelling, identity, and meaning (the feeling that you are part of something larger than yourself). The same techniques that we are using in business can be applied to our own families. Bruce Feiler makes the exact same conclusion in his TED talk. He gives examples of people incorporating these novel new business approaches to family life. In addition his article places emphasis on the importance of a family narrative (connection to meaning anyone!).

"Dr. Duke said that children who have the most self-confidence have what he and Dr. Fivush call a strong 'intergenerational self.' They know they belong to something bigger than themselves."

"The bottom line: if you want a happier family, create, refine and retell the story of your family's positive moments and your ability to bounce back from the difficult ones. That act alone may increase the odds that your family will thrive for many generations to come."
He also mentions the importance of family traditions and basically mentions how the sillier they are the more likely they'll pass down and gives an example of hiding frozen turkeys for thanksgiving, perhaps silly traditions are easier to preserve?

Experience

From my own experience I focused on recollecting on family interactions from the perspective of the research I did. To give some background I am a the only American born person in my family. My parents moved to the U.S from Poland leaving behind all their relatives in search of work and opportunity.

I have a strong sense of family history despite living in another country away from my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Despite the physical barrier and language barrier (overtime my polish language skills deteriorate if I don't use them) my parents tell me moving stories of our families dating from World War 2, soviet occupation, to raising two kids while earning a PhD in a foreign country. I have learned a lot about members of my families who experienced close friends dying during German occupation and the constant supply shortages during Soviet occupation that lasted until 1989. These stories of perseverance have helped me gain a stronger sense of identity and have helped me reconnect with family members even when physical contact with them is separated by sometimes as long as two years.

It's not perfect of course, at home during these holidays it can feel lacking and especially when my sister is in another state (so it's just my parents and I). On those holidays it is easy for us to go our separate ways after dinner and presents. Sometimes we try to make up for this by celebrating with other members of a polish community in an attempt to connect back with home, family, and keep ourselves together. Even in polish community gatherings the younger and older generations easily split apart, most of the time when adults try to engage younger generations the younger generations lose interest. Other times younger generations are forced more or less to participate in certain activities which makes us feel not so great about participating.

Improvements

In the end I came up with a few opportunities for improvement.

1. People need a way to recount and share family narratives during family gatherings because these are the crucial elements to bonding and forming stronger families.

2. People need a way to encourage newer and older generations to share their stories and reconnect in an engaging manner in order to develop a stronger inter-generational self, increase family stability, and develop stronger bonds even with extended family.

3. To create memorable rituals to keep the family engaged and make everyone feel like a part of something larger and decrease the likeliness of people refusing to help or participate in a family activity as well as to keep a family together and longer.

4. A way to not only connect long-distance families but also keep them engaged with one another during holidays in order to create a stronger sense of family (being a part of something larger).

Blog entry #2 Word maps and humorous ideas

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Alright humorous products it is!

So as summary for this assignment I would have to start of with a game to get me playful, make a winter themed word map and then use the words in the word map to come up with ten humorous ideas for products. I got my playful and creative juices first flowing by playing telephone pictionary with some friends after a club meeting on Saturday (shamelessly self promoting Digital Art Studio). Anyway the game goes like this, everyone writes down a scenario and the next person has to draw it, then the third person has to write down a sentence based on what that second person drew without looking at anything before it, this continues on until the idea circulates back to the original person. Things get pretty weird (I'll make sure to add pictures next chance I get) but for example an angry pikachu in the beginning of one game turned into a sexy lingerie wearing drug addict pikachu. I really wish I had the pictures to show.

Next I drew out a word map which you can see directly below... The main three sub themes I'm going with are cold hands, skiing, and snowballs.
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So my first idea came about by combining ski boots, with messy house due to snow boots, and passive aggressive family members. Basically you can walk normally in your boots outside but when you enter the house the boots constrain your movement and essentially bind your feet to the floor (ski boots are really hard to walk in) and prevent unaware guests and children from walking around in the house in their dirty wet snow boots. You have to take them off to walk a significant distance in the house! Picture below...
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Next we have the defecation detector. Many times we regret not picking up dog poop before snowfalls so get this product. Using similar techniques that avalanche rescuers use such as a stick to detect air pockets and some strange poop detection radar, you will never return to your house with fall's left overs you fed to your dog.
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Ski treads. You never have to carry heavy skis back to your car again, just strap on the fold out ski treads and ride your way back to the car on a flat surface!
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The Bad Present Scanner. Not sure if your parents or significant other got you what you were asking before? Well now you can find out if they got you something terrible in advance. With the bad gift detector one can scour the house ahead of time and sob tears of disappointment weeks before Christmas so that you'll be over it by the time Christmas actually arrives and save yourself the anger and embarrassment on the holiday.
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the perfect cup. Ironically not a cup. It is an amorphous blob that contains a warm liquid of your choice such as hot chocolate or hot tea. The straw keeps cooler than the rest of the blob so that you can sip your liquid, but the blob releases just the right amount of heat from your hot chocolate to keep your hands warm. Just prod the container with your hands so that it covers them and take a sip!

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Bad Present cookies.
Step 1-receive bad present
step 2-...(realize magnitude of disappointment)
step 3-cry into cup
step 4-add salty tears to cookie mix
step 5- drown sorrow in cookies(Me Gusta)
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Grinch defender
shoots snowballs at carolers
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Miss dubstep in the winter? Dunstepify your xmas songs with this app!
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Like dumplings but suck at making them? Use this dumpling maker, just put dough in and viola now you have your own dumplings made from the same technology as the snowball makers.
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the video game Red dead redemption but instead of a western setting it takes place in the north pole in Santa's Wild north. The blob in the upper left corner is supposed to be a reindeer (instead of a horse)
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alright that's all ten of my ideas!

Week 1 assignment Cookies!

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Alright so first off I have very limited experience with baking cookies. Because of that I came into this assignment not really knowing full well what the different properties of different dough are, so let the experimentation begin!

I started off by thinking of what typically comes to mind when I say cookie and how I could break some of those those expectations without destroying the essence of what it means to be a cookie (getting philosophical here). I started by wanting to destroy the "flatness" of the cookies. Cookies are always just lying there in that plain 2-d plane, so why not make the cookies a bit more 3-d? So I started off with a few ideas in my sketch book, most of which never came to a full realization because of how dough tends to expand and flatten in the oven and pieces are hard to "glue" together (if at all) with icing. However, using Pillsbury croissant dough I was able to get some 3d shapes, they weren't all going to be the same structured shape like I was hoping for but maybe that was a good thing?

Here they are before making their journey into the oven. Some are filled with jam beforehand and some are not.

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Anyways my mom always has jam around the kitchen so we filled it with marmalade and a touch of spicy jalapeno jam. Then we topped off the cookies with a cherry to hide the surprising inner contents. My mom called them barnacle cookies. they look a bit like them don't they? Hopefully they taste better though.(Just a note, for some reason it appears putting the jam in the cookies before going into the oven seems to preserve the inner space of the cookies)

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Here are the not so successful 3-d attempts. The second image is a caterpillar cookie idea that I had. Customers would order x amount of cookies and the more cookies they ordered the longer the caterpillar would become. Unfortunately I was stuck with all these cookies clueless as to how to make them stick together also rendering it impossible to decorate. On next image I have rings of dough, the idea here would be to tie the cookies with string and wear them on your wrist throughout the day. It could maybe work for an occasion like the state fair. The only issue is keeping in mind that the inner hole might get closed when expanding in the oven, and that if the day is hot your cookie might get sweaty, kinda nasty really.

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For the above perhaps with more experience and a degree in chemical engineering for food one could pull off the caterpillar cookie.

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In my next series of attempts I decided to experiment with different flavors. At this point I only had run-of-the-mill cookie dough and so when I tried making 3-d shapes like I did with the other dough a few days ago the cookies completely flattened out by the end of their stay in the oven. In this case I was going to have to try out some different flavors, to make up for the boring shapes. I walked around CVS and decided on two additional ingredients to go into my new cookies. Lays chips and dried mango. I figured the dried mango would add a bit of flair and texture. The lays chips would add more crunchiness and I figured since cookies and chips are so salty these days, why not just combine the two and make it a double sodium overkill, YUM!

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I felt that the mango was a bit over powered in my first test, so in the second I added a lot more. I think the new flavors were alright but I can see my self getting pretty sick of the lays chip cookies pretty fast.

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