Concept Selection & Pitch

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Below is the pugh chart I used to select my most promising concept. The evaluation criteria I used were cost, price, utility, convenience, uniqueness and technological feasibility.

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I personally found it a little difficult to rate each concept using a standard pedestal sink as the standard since the concepts vary quite a bit across the board. In particular, the utility and convenience were hard to rate in comparison to the standard sink.

Using the pugh chart, I've determined the retractable shower curtain to be the most promising concept. Half of its technological feasibility is demonstrated by the numerous retractable projection screens on the market. The other half of its technical feasibility would consider durability in wet environments and the amount of force that would need to be generated in order to overcome the friction of a cleaning/drying squeegee. My technical background suggests that these issues could be dealt with fairly easily.

Several possible product names I've brainstormed are as follows. My favorites are in bold.

Shower Shade
Bath Screen
Shower Shield
Sho-Shade
Curta-clean
Shocurta-dry
Retractable Drying Shower Curtain
Stay Dry Curtain
Self-drying, Self storing Shower Curtain
Disappearing shower curtain
Vanish Shower
VanBath Shade
VanShow Shade
VanShower

The simple "Shower Shade" name is best at getting the point and functionality across.
I believe most people would be familiar with retracting window shades.

The Elevator Story (from the comfort of an office chair)

pitch.AVI

Below is a picture of the "Shower Shade" sketch model followed by a simple cartoon of what it does. These are not high res images, but the point should be straightforward.

curtain_open.jpg

curtain_closed.jpg

overhead_shower curtain.png

Preliminary Idea Evaluation

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detective.gif

For my preliminary idea evaluation, I am looking at the following 10 ideas:

1. Weather simulating shower/bath
2. Overhead retractable shower curtain
3. Rotating wall storable sink
4. Clock embedded mirror
5. Adjustable orifice size drain plug
6. 360 degree pivot mirror
7. Sideburn trimming guide
8. Clock embedded eyeglasses
9. See through (on/off) mirror
10. Variable (interactive) themed mirror

Pictures of sketch models for ideas 2, 6 and 7

Retractable Shower Curtain
curtain_closed.jpgcurtain_open.jpg

Rotating Mirror

mirror.jpg

Sideburn Trimming Guide
sideburn_guide.jpg


Benchmarking: Is this idea novel?

To benchmark the ideas, I did google web, google image, and amazon.com searches. Because Amazon.com is considered the world's largest online retailer, it is an excellent tool for benchmarking. In cases where no existing products turned up, a patent search was done.

I am utilizing my pinterest account to benchmark each of the ideas. Click on each of the following links to find existing products or patents. Based on my preliminary search, I have also included whether the product appears novel, marketable, and feasible in parentheses.

1. Weather simulating shower/bath(Novel, Marketable, Feasible)
The closest thing to weather simulating shower/bath that I could identify were a number of rain-simulating showerheads.
2. Overhead retractable shower curtain(Novel, Marketable, Feasible)
I could not find any retractable shower curtains. I used projector screens as my benchmark.
3. Rotating wall storable sink (Novel, unsure of marketability and feasibility)
Other than custom architectural designs, I could not find any rotatable storing sinks. An additional patent search will be required to identity any prior art.
4. Mirror embedded clock(Marketable, Feasible, not novel)
A number of mirror embedded clocks were found, but there were not many suppliers selling them.
5. Adjustable orifice size drain plug (Novel, Marketable, Feasible)
I need to do a better patent search to include anything with an adjustable orifice size. I suspect that there are patents for similar ideas. If not, I suspect other ideas incorporate the adjustability mechanism I envisioned.
6. 360 degree pivot mirror (Marketable in a different form, Feasible)
I found several mirrors that allow the user to see all sides of their head. These mirrors don't require rotation of the mirror.
7. Sideburn trimming guide (Novel, Feasible, lack of marketability possibly reflected in past patents not producing a product)
I did not find any products for this purpose. A number of past IP was identified.
8. Glasses embedded clock (Novel)
I
could not find any products and identified one piece of prior art. I expect to find more prior art with a deeper patent search.
9. See through (on/off) mirror (Novel)
No products, did not find prior art with initial patent search. Will need to repeat search with more/different search terms.
10. Variable (interactive) themed mirror (Marketability questionable, Feasibility proven by others)
A lot of themed mirrors exist, but I found very few that allow you to vary the theme. I started to include interactive mirrors in this search. I did not include mirrors with a themed physical border in my benchmarking because the idea for this product was to have a theme that could be change with the touch of a button.


Preliminary Market Survey: Is this idea marketable?

For my preliminary market survey, I prepared a simple survey with a sketch and description of each idea followed by these questions:

What do you think of this idea?
Would you use this?
Do you know someone who would use this?
Could you see yourself owning this?
Could you see yourself buying this?
If you would and/or could purchase this, how much would you pay for it?

I emailed the survey to 14 individuals and received 10 responses before class. A summary of the responses is as follows. Here is the survey I used Product Idea Survey.pdf.

1. Weather simulating shower/bath
The weather simulating shower was liked by 9/10 survey takers. Most of them said they could see themselves owning it and the average price they were willing to pay was $900.

2. Overhead retractable shower curtain
8/10 responders mentioned that they hate cleaning their shower curtains and it would be nice to have one that cleans itself. The other two didn't see that there is currently a problem. The people who thought this was a good idea were willing to pay $200 on average. However, you must be able to purchase replacement shower curtains and it should be easy to retrofit into any dimension shower opening.

3. Rotating wall storable sink
This idea was not universally accepted by responders. 7/10 People did agree that it might be useful for someone with a really small bathroom. If they had a small bathroom or were building a living unit with a small bathroom, they would be willing to pay on average $150.

4. Mirror embedded clock
Liked by 8/10 responders. Those that didn't like the idea said that they already have too many clocks. Responders were willing to pay from $50 - $75. An additional feature that was suggested was a radio.

5. Adjustable orifice size drain plug
6/10 people liked this idea. A majority of those that liked the idea weren't exactly sure what it's application might be. All of those that did not like the idea disliked if because they couldn't see a purpose for it. One responder was willing to pay up to $50 dollars for a drain plug they can adjust to have different orifice size. The rest were willing to pay an average of $12.

6. 360 degree pivot mirror
2/10 responders liked this idea. The average price they were willing to pay was $15.

7. Sideburn trimming guide
This was a chronic problem for the male responders. 7/10 responders liked the idea, regardless of whether male or female. The average willing to pay (WTP) price was $17.50. I personally would love this product. I wouldn't want to pay much for it, but I hate shaving for several reasons. The time and hassle of trimming my sideburns to the desired length and getting them level is one of those reasons.

8. Glasses embedded clock
7/10 responders saw the usefulness of this product idea. 2/3 of the responders who disliked the idea were non-eyeglass wearers. The responders who saw this products usefulness and said that they could see themselves owning this were willing to pay $20 - $75 as an added option to prescription lenses. One adjustment that was mentioned was to have the ability to turn the time/date on and off.

9. See through (on/off) mirror
3/10 people liked the idea. Those that liked the idea said that they would not purchase the item, but could see it being sold for $100 as an added option to a luxury vanity cabinet.

10. Variable (interactive) themed mirror
8/10 responders thought this idea was creative. Only 4 of them could see themselves owning it personally. The average price the 8 responders who provided an answer for what they were willing to pay was $90 - $150.

Preliminary Feasibility: My Prediction

Below if my initial feasibility prediction based on my preliminary market survey and benchmarking.

1. Weather simulating shower/bath
My preliminary response is that this product does have a potential market. I could not find any existing products that simulate weather conditions. The closest thing I could find were the rain-simulating showerheads that are provided in my benchmarking section. Those ranged in price from $46 - $700. My engineering background suggests that this idea would be technically feasible and the technology currently exists. Since most responders were willing to pay around $900 for a weather simulating shower/bath, it also seems financially feasible. In order to keep the price to $900, this product would probably have to be designed as additions to a traditional shower/bath. A shower/bath that has all of the weather simulating elements built-in would likely be much more than $900.

2. Overhead retractable shower curtain
Survey responses suggest this product has a market. Projector screens (manual and automatic) in my benchmarking section range from $80-$500. mid-range manual screens were around $180. Responders were willing to pay on average $200 for this product. This is on par with what mid-range manual projector screens cost. A projector screen was used as the benchmark because the retracting curtain would be mimicking this. The retractable curtain would need to have a squeegee, heavier duty spring element to overcome friction of squeegee, and anti-mildew and anti-rust materials. These additional materials would add to the cost. This product should be produced at a slightly higher cost than projection screens. However, the $200 price point may be a little low. This may impact the financial feasibility. I personally believe this could be a success because most households own a shower curtain. Shower curtains need to be periodically cleaned/replaced. Not many households own projector screens. Number of households likely outnumbers the number of projectors purchased for business use. My background and existing products suggest this idea to be technologically feasible.

3. Rotating wall storable sink
Low market feasibility. Should be able to produce for around $150. Would need to do additional research to determine production cost of normal sinks. Technologically feasible, but would require custom parts. Low market feasibility because universal technological feasibility does not exist (i.e. this idea would require custom plumbing that may or may not currently exist).

4. Clock embedded mirror
Market feasibility proven by existing products on the market. Product not carried by many retailers. Product may not be doing well in the market. Financially feasible from a production cost perspective. May not make much money off product if priced according to survey responses. Existing similar mirrors priced at more than $500. Technologically feasibility proven by existing products.

5. Adjustable orifice size drain plug
Market feasibility questionable. I would say low market feasibility. Financial feasibility low because small market. Market has not necessarily been identified (i.e. people don't know what it could be used for). Technologically feasibility high.

6. 360 degree pivot mirror
Market feasibility in its current form is low. Other similar mirrors found in benchmarking prove the market feasibility of the general idea. Financial feasibility (could it be produced for cheap?) is high. Existing similar mirrors sell for similar price of what responders said they would be willing to pay. High technological feasibility.

7. Sideburn trimming guide
Lack of existing products and abundance of existing patents suggests te market feasibility is low. Financially, this would be a cheap product to produce. High technological feasibility.

8. Clock embedded eyeglasses
Medium market feasibility. Financial feasibility currently low. Technology exists or near existence so not cheap enough yet. If not technologically feasible now, will be in a few years. No products to benchmark it against and found one similar patent that doesn't embed the time/date in the glass of the eyeglasses themselves.

9. See through (on/off) mirror
Market feasibility low, no universal use identified for product (just a unique feature). Financial feasibility is low. The cost to produce this would be too high in comparison to what people would be willing to pay for the feature. Technological feasibility to be determined, but I think this is feasible based on two-way mirror technology.

10. Variable (interactive) themed mirror
High market feasibility was not suggested by my survey responses, but I predict there is a market for this product. There are currently a few interactive mirrors in existence and some custom ones have been made. Not currently financially feasible. Technology cost will need to decrease in order to make this financially feasible. Several years from now, people will begin to have interactive mirrors.

Structured Ideation

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Igor-Buscemi-Scamper.jpg

Of the ideas that were generated in last weeks brainstorming session, these are the ones I'm interested in applying structured ideations techniques toward:

1. watch/clock mirror
2. sink that recycles handwashing water
3. sink buddy (talks to you)
4. Sink that flows water all around outer edge for self cleaning

Of these 4 ideas, I will choose clock mirror for the purpose of this assignment. The basic idea of the clock mirror was that there would be a clock embedded somewhere on the mirror (probably in an upper corner) to let you know how long you are taking in the bathroom and/or how much time you have left before needing to move on.

Using the SCAMPER method:

SUBSTITUTE
Question: Can I change it's color, roughness, sound or smell?

Maybe instead of having a clock embedded in the mirror, it can be replaced with a sound, smell or flashing light. There could be a speaker embedded in the mirror that announces the time at specified intervals. This could be a voice or just a specific number/duration of tones. It could also be a countdown clock like that used during launches. A grandfather clock "ding dong" sound perhaps.

Instead of a sound, how about a smell. If acting as a timer to notify when time is up or you need to leave for an event, how about a clock that at first emits a pleasant aroma and then begins to emit an unpleasant aroma as you are almost out of time (recycle some unpleasant aroma from the toilet?).

SI_1.png
Mirror w/ audible or aroma alert

Lastly, how about colors. Have a flashing or steady light somewhere on the mirror. Maybe start the color out as green and then turn to yellow when your time is halfway gone or there is only a predetermined (set time in the clock) left before you need to leave for a specific event. If only ten minutes are left, the light will turn red and start flashing in one or multiple locations on the mirror.

COMBINE
Question: Can I combine or recombine its parts' purposes?

If the mirror serves as the door of a medicine cabinet. How about we translate the time reporting into the cabinet itself? Maybe we can have multiple clocks going on inside as reminders to take medications/vitamins/etc. or expiration reminders. Maybe the mirror can sense who the user is and light up that individuals row of toiletries when the cabinet is opened or both. If a clock is embedded in the mirror, that may mean a clock is behind a 2-way mirror. Maybe the entire mirror could be built such that a light can be turned on to see what is behind the mirror in the cabinet without opening it up.

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Mirror that can be seen through when back light is turned on. Also, multiple clocks are running inside to notify when to take pills or if a certain medication has expired.

ADAPT
Question: What different contexts can I put my concept in?

How about a constant reminder of the time embedded in eyeglasses? I personally like this idea.
In the windshield of vehicles (I believe this has been done)?
Exterior house windows?
Surface of refrigerator?

SI_3.png
Eyeglasses that have the time/date embedded in the corner of the lens. Also, exterior window with the time embedded.

MAGNIFY
Question: Can it do more things?

Make it an interactive touchscreen mirror. Maybe I need a calculator, weather report, built-in magnifier or just want to play games in addition to knowing the time. A built in heating element might help to defog the mirror and increase the useful mirror time in a steamy bathroom. In this case, lets put the mirror with all of these functionalities in the shower itself.

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Interactive touchscreen mirror. Displays time and weather. Windows can be moved around. Has simple built in programs like a calculator and games. Has facial feature recognition that can aid in putting makeup on or shaving.

PUT TO OTHER USE
Question: How would a child use it? An older person? People with different disabilities?

A child would like a playful mirror, but parents may want something that promotes washing hands/brushing teeth. Why not both? Clock could change into something readable by children where children can see it. Maybe the children can't read a clock yet, the embedded clock could help teach them. Also, put games associated with washing hands/brushing teeth into the mirror. Make these tasks a game for the child. They can't play the games if they don't do either. Or maybe the mirror can be programmed to change its theme. How about a colors and crayons theme? My Little Pony? Barbie or princess? Interactive educational to learn math or alphabet? The mirror could also record and report how frequently hands have been washed or teeth brushed for encouragement to the children or just for reporting to the parents.

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Mirror that stores and displays different themes depending on who the user is. This one has a colorful border and a sun shining from the corner.

How would an older person use the mirror? An elderly person could use the clock to notify them when to take pills. Maybe they have regular bowel movements, but can't sense them. The clock could also tell them when to go to the bathroom (this is sorta just a joke). They could use additional features in the mirror to help keep track of tasks completed, pills taken, location of objects. Where are my dentures? The mirror knows. Where did I say I was going 5 minutes ago that I forgot because of my alzheimers? The mirror knows.

How would a person with disabilities use the mirror? Depends on the disability. In a wheelchair, mirror rotates. Blind, mirror speaks. Mentally handicapped, mirror displays or blurts out instructions for basic daily activities. Helps mentally handicapped live on their own.

ELIMINATE
Question: How can I simplify it?

Let's not embed the clock in the mirror to begin with, but still have it built into the mirror. Maybe we don't want to build the clock into the mirror and just want to have it as a suction attachment. If we want to add/retain the interactivity, lets restrict the interactive portion of the mirror to 1/2 or 1/4 of the mirror.

SI_6.png
Clock that attaches via suction cup to mirror. I think this has already been done.

REVERSE/REARRANGE
Question: What if I try doing the exact opposite of what I originally intended?

My original intention was to have an embedded clock that would help manage time in the bathroom, specifically for arriving on time to planned activities.

Instead of keeping people on schedule. Let's put them to sleep. Let's play relaxing music and have the only lights in the bathroom coming from the mirror. The lights in the mirror would automatically dim with the music and have a calming/sleep inducing effect. Let's also spray some sort of downer at the unsuspecting individual to help induce sleep. Of course, there will be some sort of safety net to protect them from harm.

SI_7.png
Bathroom mood lightener/sleep inducer. Plays relaxing music and dims lights. May also emit pleasant, relaxing aromas.


For my second structured ideation technique I will use a HIT Matrix. I am choosing to apply the HIT matrix to the clock/mirror idea and my general subtheme. I re-defined my general subtheme to be the sink-mirror interaction. I am going to Re-redefine the subtheme to specifically deal with sink-mirror interaction while shaving facial hair. The general mirror-sink interaction subtheme was intended to help include ladies in the brainstorming session since I suspect they don't typically use a mirror to shave/trim their beard, sideburns, or facial hair in general (depends on the lady I guess).

sink/mirror attributes: square, glass, ceramic, surface, bowl, reflective
shaving attributes: sharp, rechargeable, portable, disposable, adjustable

The following HIT matrix was produced:

Hit Matrix.png

After examining my HIT matrix, the matrix entries with the corresponding ideas they make me think or are as follows:

Disposable glass/disposable surface makes me think of disposable clear mirror sheets. Kind of like screen protectors for the mirror, but they aid in cleaning. If the mirror becomes too dirty, a sheet can be peeled of to expose a crystal clean surface.

SI_8.png

Disposable reflective makes me think of some type of disposable reflective adhesive sheet that lets you turn anything into a mirror. Disposable clear mirror sheets.

SI_9.png

Sharp reflective for some reason made me think of adding a video camera near the cutting element of a razor/trimmer. Instead of like an earlier idea where I mentioned the mirror could be a screen that is displaying side view from a side-mounted video camera, the mirror could be displaying the image being captured from the razor. You would see exactly where and how the razor is cutting (is it level? too high? too low?...etc.) Of course it may also need a windshield wiper.

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Blue Sky Brainstorming: Sink/basin theme

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brainstorm.gif

I began my brain-storming session on Wednesday by asking for my roommates assistance. I know few people outside of my degree program who I could organize for a brainstorming session over the weekend, so I requested the help of my roommate Mike. Mike is an amateur improviser, so many of his friends are also involved in improv. Mike already had plans for meeting up with several friends this afternoon (Sunday) to watch a Green Bay Packers football game. They were told they'd be helping me out with a brainstorming session.

Note: notes in bold are embedded wherever I would do things differently next time

I went about prepping for the brainstorming session by reviewing the brainstorming lecture slides and choosing which techniques I would try. I chose to approach the session by trying Blue Sky brainstorming, rolestorming, and negative brainstorming. For rolestorming, I chose to repeat with two different roles (profession and fictional character).

Professions:
professions.jpg

Fictional characters:
fictional characters.jpg

We met at The Blue Door Pub on Selby Ave. in St. Paul.

I'll admit that meeting in a Pub during a football game is not the right atmosphere to be in. Although the drinks may help a little, the environment is loud and not ideal for a facilitator with a quiet voice like me. I was trying to do something that was convenient for those involved. The fact they didn't have to make a special showing for brainstorming was convenient for others, but not for me.

I began by giving everyone a little information about the purpose of the brainstorming session in addition to sharing the brainstorming lecture slides with them. I expected the fact they were all involved in Improv to help with the brainstorming session. I tried to communicate that the theme was a subtheme of sink/bain. I changed my theme from bathroom stalls to sink/mirror interaction, particularly while shaving/putting on makeup/doing hair, to align better with the sink/basin theme. Although the subtheme was sink/mirror interaction, I tried to put emphasis on writing/sketching anything and not filtering their ideas.

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Future sessions will put a little more emphasis on the subtheme to try and focus the ideas more in one direction

As facilitator, I participated in the brainstorming but also kept track of the ideas and timed the sessions. Each technique was done for about 5 minutes before switching to the next.

brainstorming_1.jpg

We started with blue sky brainstorming and we came up with 18 ideas in 5 minutes.
Rolestorming (Profession: mail man, pornstar, musician, barista, firefighter) came up with 17 ideas.
Rolestorming (Fictional character: Sherlock Holmes, Garfield, Darth Vader, James Bond, superman) for 5 minutes produced 16 ideas
Negative brainstorming for 5 minutes produced 18 ideas.

group IPD = (18+17+16+18)/(20) = 3.45
individual IPM = 3.45/5 = 0.69 < 1.0

The individual IPM is not too bad considering most of the group had little experience brainstorming.

ideas.jpg
20 Best Ideas (individual and brainstorming type credit given in parentheses)
1. mirror that is screen that displays side view of head from side cameras (Brenton; blue sky)
2. electric razor with level (Jim; blue sky)
3. magnifying bathroom mirror (Brenton; blue sky)
4. sideburn/facial hair stencil (Brenton; blue sky)
5. side mirrors/all-around mirrors/movable (Brenton; blue sky)
6. Sink that flows water all around outer edge for self cleaning (Matt; blue sky)
7. adjustable drain size (Matt; blue sky)
8. mirror that plays music/TV (Brenton; rolestorming)
9. sink that can be thrown up in/flushable sink (Brenton; rolestorming)
10. adjustable height sink (Matt; rolestorming)
11. sink with pad on front for leaning against (Matt; rolestorming)
12. sink for sidekick - sidekick sink (Brenton; rolestorming)
13. sink that rotates into wall (Brenton/Mike; rolestorming)
14. watch/clock mirror (Brenton; rolestorming)
15. briefcase with fold out sink (Mike; rolestorming)
16. sink that recycles handwashing water (Matt; rolestorming)
17. door that doesn't unlock unless hands clean (Brenton/Matt; negative brainstorming)
18. boiling hand washer (Kyle; negative brainstorming)
19. sink buddy (Kyle; negative brainstorming)
20. sink that detects how clean you are and announces it (Matt; negative brainstorming)

best_1.pngbest_2.pngbest_3.pngbest_4.pngbest_5.pngbest_6.pngbest_7.png

"Best" is defined as aligning with the subtheme and having the most potential market value.

The 5 individuals participating in the brainstorming came from various backgrounds. They were all college educated males. However, their experience and disciplines varied. They included: graduate engineering students (mechanical and electrical), improvisers, finance, political analysis, insurance agency, midwesterners, southerners, west coasters.

Some of the things I've learned from this exercise are that facilitating a brainstorming session takes some practice. Brainstorming gets easier with practice. I personally feel I'm better at brainstorming now than 3 weeks ago. Environment plays an important role in the efficiency of the brainstorming. Cues are important to keep the brainstorming in check.

See everyone in class.

Bug List & Idea Wallet

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Idea Bug

In case you are wondering what the above picture is, it's an idea bug.

Here is the first copy of my bug list:

-bathroom stall locks
-shaving with glasses on
-evening out sideburns
-public restrooms in coffee shops too near seating
-right handed notebooks
-lights out above bathroom stalls
-grocery freezer doors fogging up immediately after closing
-stiff toilet paper roll dispensers
-toilet paper cutters on dispensers (like scotch tape)
-lane between parking lot and store entrance (neither drivers nor pedestrians pay attention)


Unfortunately, I didn't spend much time just browsing the internet this weekend (instead, focused on specific sites or documents) and do not have any entries into my idea wallet.

I did, however, create a Pinterest account and will start adding to that as soon as I stumble upon something interesting (if on the web).

Brenton's Pinterest account

For those of you reading this blog post. If you interested in just stumbling upon interesting stuff, check out stumbleupon.com. It's a site and browser add-on that lets you specify your interests and click a button that will randomly take you to something interesting. You don't need to specify your interests. Sometimes that stuff is more interesting. I used to stumble upon stuff for hours at a time until I realized I need to spend more time studying and less stumbling.

Logging off for now.

See everyone at Target!

Observation Study: Public Bathroom Stalls

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restroom sign

I don't believe my mind map for the previous homework did a great job of exploring the sink/basin realm. In order to come up with more ideas, I imagined where I might find a sink/basin. For each of the locations I imagined, I visualized myself being in that place and what I might see. The places I imagined, followed by specific areas I might hone in on are below:

Locations:
1. Kitchen
2. Bathroom (private)
3. Public Bathroom
4. Laundry room
5. Research laboratory (wet lab)/Academic lab
6. In a bar (behind the bar)
7. In a jail cell
8. Fish cleaning station
9. Inside an RV
10. Camping
11. Dorm room
12. Sporting/music event (portable outhouses/sinks)

Areas to hone in on:
1. mirrors/shaving (private bathroom)
2. water filtration (kitchen/lab/bar/RV/camping)
3. toilet (private/public stalls/jail cell/portables)
4. lighting
5. washer/dryer
6. bathroom stalls

I would like to explore mirrors/shaving because it is something that I hate to do. However, I think public bathroom stalls would be an interesting focus that affects everyone. I may talk a little about mirrors/shaving, but I will focus my efforts on public stalls.

The 3 ethnographic tools I chose to use are: creating a storyboard, using products, and mapping trends.

I suspect that interviewing users will provide the most information, but did not expect to find many people over the weekend who'd be willing to talk about their experience in public bathroom stalls.

Over the weekend I set out to visit a number of public stalls. Of course, that meant I had to eat a lot of food. The public stalls I found time to visit include:

Home Depot
Target
McDonalds
Burger King
Old Mechanical Engineering Building
New Mechanical Engineering Building

Using these stalls and taking pictures employed two of the ethnographic tools (using products and trend mapping). I made sure no one was in the restroom while I was snapping shots.

Using Products:
Anyway, from using these stalls over the weekend in addition to previous experience with bathroom stalls, I can write about my experience. First, if the restroom has multiple stalls, I never know which one is empty, if any. Sometimes the stalls appear to be occupied, but at empty, and vice versa. It hasn't happened to me very often, but I have been walked in on and also walked in on someone before because of stalls appearing to be unoccupied or locks being broken. That is just one of my gripes about public bathroom stalls. Next, stalls are often too small. In the middle of winter when I have a giant coat on and sometimes also a backpack, there is barely enough room to enter the stall and turn around. It requires a lot of finesse in the stall to remove a coat and backpack without either of them touching the toilet (especially when the stall door opens to the inside). I'm sure some people leave their items outside of the bathroom or just outside of the stall. Both of those contradict what signs in almost all university buildings say. That is, "Do not leave personal items unoccupied" or something along those lines. I have had personal items stolen because I didn't listen to the sign. Like I said, there is barely enough room in the stall. Wait, I'm not done yet. What about the stalls that don't have a hook for hanging items up. I do not want to set my backpack, coat, or laptop on a floor that is likely full of germs and is sometimes even wet (from what? most likely toilet water). To continue, what about the lighting in the stall? The rest of the bathroom is lit up, why can't the stall be lit up. I'd like to see what I am doing. And lastly, I'm a large proponent of automatic toilets, but not when they prematurely flush while I'm still setting on them. These are all reasons I frequently use the handicap stall. I'm sorry if that is frowned upon. Personally, I don't think that stall should be labeled handicapped (maybe just label it big stall). I obviously don't have the same belief for other handicap amenities such as parking spots (except for those who abuse their use). That is enough ranting about public bathroom stalls for now.

Mapping trends:
As I mentioned earlier, I visited several public bathrooms over the weekend and snapped photos of the stalls. A key assumption here is that women's restrooms are laid out exactly the same as men's restrooms without the urinals. Perhaps they are cleaner than men's restrooms (but maybe not). The following photos are from each of the restrooms I visited over the weekend and will aid in mapping trends. Most of the trends I can do without the photos, but the photos are included to illustrate them. Note that I took the best photos from each and combined them into one collage using microsoft paint. When I have adobe again, these photo collages will be better quality. Here are the photos, followed by the trends I recognized.

Home Depot Bathroom Home Depot

Target Bathroom
Target

McDonalds Bathroom
McDonalds

Burger King Bathroom
Burger King

Mechanical Engineering Old bathroom
Old Mechanical Engineering Building

Mechanical Engineering New bathroom
New Mechanical Engineering Building

I'm sorry the Target photo is getting cut off a little bit. It is probably easiest to open the links to the individual photos and compare that way.

The trends I noticed, although not present in all bathrooms I visited, were:
1. auto-flushing toilets (3 out of 6)
2. hidden plumbing (1 out of 6; not noticed as trend from photographs, but a trend I expect in future)
3. multi-roll toilet paper dispensers (5 out of 6)
4. tiled wall/floor (all)
5. stall doors open to inside (2 out of 6 opened to outside)
6. horseshoe toilet seats (all bathrooms)
7. suspended toilets (3 out of 6)
8. toilet seat covers (1 bathroom)
9. hand sanitizer in stalls (1 bathroom)
10. more stainless steel
11. more floor drains

I am under the impression that most of these trends are due to sanitation rather than comfort/convenience.

I will pay close attention to any public restroom I visit from now on and will try to document similarities/differences and new innovations.

Storyboarding:

The following storyboard is based on my general experience with public restroom stalls. Please let me know if you cannot read the text. I constructed this storyboard in microsoft paint, so it does not scale very well.

public restroom storyboard

Some of my suggestions for public restroom stall improvement are to make them slighly larger, use doors that open differently (i.e. don't extend almost to toilet when opened inside), better amenities for setting/hanging personal items, smarter auto-flush toilets, alert users to occupancy/vacancy of stalls.

Sink/basin mind map #2

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MindMap1.jpg

Something I've noticed is the activities I've done shortly before working on my mind map and also the environment I'm in has impacted my ability to come up with ideas quite a bit. My first entry was done in the quiet of my own bedroom and the edit to my initial entry was done in one coffee shop. This entry was done in a different coffee shop.

The mind map below includes a few additions and several connections. The additions from the previous mindmap are shown in blue. The connections are represented in green. Some of these are obviously forced connections.


mind_map_ 3.png
View image

A few product ideas based on these connections are presented below (they aren't all humorous).

1. A toilet cleaning brush that looks like a tooth brush. A toilet cleaning brush that works and looks like an electric toothbrush.
2. A toilet that looks like a mouth of some kind with teeth incorporated into it, to go along with toilet cleaning brush.
3. A tub/shower setting that can be controlled to simulate different types of weather (sunny, rainy, humid, etc.)
4. A thermostat that can be used to directly control the temperature of sink/shower/tub water.
5. A tub/shower that can serve as dual purpose washing machine.
6. A shower curtain that works like an overhead screen. It could also store and clean itself on a regular basis.

I'd like to continue adding details, but need to leave for class soon.

As mentioned above, some things I've learned from this process are as follows:
1. environment plays an important role in ability to generate ideas/connections
2. pre-activities also
3. good idea to revisit mind map and not expect to complete in one sitting; don't expect all good ideas to appear right away
4. use different colors to help organize mind map

Sink/Basin mind map

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So since I'm just getting around to this and I'd kind of like to watch a movie. Here is my sink/basin mind map that was done with 5-10 minutes. As a little experiment, I'm going to now go watch a comedy and see how many creative ideas I can add afterward. I will continue adding to and updating my mind map until class tomorrow.

I'm having a little trouble updating the image I previously uploaded (i.e. I've made changes to it and reuploaded to the site, but still see the old picture). Instead, I am going to upload one picture and the different colors in the mind map will represent different iterations. The black is my first iteration last night before watching a comedy. I watched the new movie Hall Pass. It had funny moments just like any comedy and I believe it achieved the goal of getting me to laugh. The red in my mind map are my additions after watching Hall Pass.


mind_map_ 2.png
View image

My next entry will be after taking another short break to work on other assignments and I will include some humorous product ideas related to the sink/basin theme.

Final Cookie Entry: The Recipe

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campfire.jpg

Campfire Cookies (makes about 2 dozen)

Ingredients:
3/4 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
24 graham cracker sheets
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 package regular sized marshmallows
2 bars hersheys milk chocolate

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine sugar and butter in small mixing bowl and cream until smooth. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time then stir in vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in hot water and add to mixture along with salt. Finely crush graham crackers in ziplock bag. Gradually add flour and graham cracker to rest of ingredients and mix until it looks like its mixed enough. Form 1.4 inch diameter balls of dough and place on greased baking sheet or parchment paper. Slice marshmallows in half and then make slit in the center of each half. Break the chocolate bar up into its individual pieces. Slice each piece in half. Place marshmallow on cookie dough ball with chocolate sticking through center of marshmallow. I found that this helps anchor the marshmallow to prevent it from migrating off the side of the cookie during baking. Bake for approximately 10 minutes and let cool off for another 10-15 minutes. Cookies are too soft to handle right out of the oven, but harden up enough that they don't fall apart.

Sick of stirring

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Just finished my batch of Smore cookies. Recipe made just over 2 dozen. Many of them are ugly, some look alright, but they all taste good (at least to anyone who likes smores). I've decided they will be called Campfire Cookies. I will provide a better update before class tomorrow, but for now I am sick of stirring cookie dough and just want to relax.

Recent Comments

  • Taylor Hill: You did a great job with your marketability research, expanding read more
  • Brittany Edwards: The sketch models were clear and were all products I read more
  • grim0168: You sure did a thorough job! I especially liked the read more
  • gilbe503: Lots of useful ideas! An overhead retractable shower curtain that read more
  • Nance Longley: 13. Sink that rotates into wall: Combine it with something read more
  • stei0727: If you have a chance, check out the bathrooms in read more
  • maxwe068: If you haven't already, you should check out the men's read more
  • olso4235: First of all, I agree with a lot of your read more
  • stei0727: Yeah I did use a tablet to create my mind read more
  • schof052: first off - i like you story board, very funny. read more

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