Assignment #6

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As a reminder, my 10 items were:

1. Pre-Order Your Cart
2. Swing Out Clothes Rack
3. Redesign of the Circular Rack
4. Space Saving Racks
5. Smart Shopper Closet
6. Monster's Inc. Method
7. Overhead Sliding Racks
8. Rest Areas in Stores
9. Smart Carts
10. Leonardo's Closet

To interview people I did both a Facebook poll and asked my friends and family that were wandering the house over the week. Some of these were hard to evaluate when interviewing people for their marketability, because many of these are products that not the individual person would purchase, but are directed at retailers and large stores. For that reason, some of these products received low "I would buy that" responses in the people I interviewed. Other products that I thought would only apply to retailers, some people said that they would buy it for themselves if they had the money. These were more of things that people wanted to see the novelty of existing rather than the feasibility of the creation of it.

I asked people not only if the would buy the products and how much they'd pay for them, but how original, useful, or novel the idea is. Based on the results, the ones that people would buy the most were 1, 2, 5, and 7. The most novel ideas people voted for were 5, 6, 9, and 10.

The ideas that were the most marketable seemed to be

1. Pre-Ordering your cart online. People said that they would pay a convenience fee, similar to the price of shipping and handling when buying other things online, to be able to just walk in the store and pick up your items without having to walk around and shop for them.

2. The Swing-Out clothes rack. Originally thought for just business sale, people said that they would own this and that it would save a lot of space in their closets and tiny college rooms. It would have to be pretty inexpensive though, about $10-$20 on the high end.

3.Smart Shopper Closet. This was more of a luxury item that people would like to have if they lived a rich and fancy lifestyle. The idea is that you have a display were you can mix and match all your options for tops, bottoms, shoes, accessories, and then select the outfit, when which it would be assembled for you. Since it was more of a dream gift, people didn't really give a price they'd pay for it. But when I asked how much they think it would cost, I got answers everywhere from $1000-$10000 dollars.

4.Overhead sliding racks.This idea is similar to partition walls that run along a ceiling track. The idea is applied to clothing racks though so they can move around. In a home setting, them only moving left to right a few feet would suffice to hold many clothes wide, as well as many deep. If these tracks were sold and easy to install, people said they'd pay anywhere from $40-$100 for them.

5. Smart Carts. People didn't say they'd necessarily buy these because their intended for retail use. But they did say that they would love if these existed. The original idea involves the shopper scanning each item they put in the cart, but it'd be more practical if the cart just had a way of knowing what each item is that's going into the cart. Perhaps if each item had a microchip in the packaging that the cart could identify and send that data directly to the cashier.

Here is a constructed 2 x 2 for each idea. The stars represent where my idea would fall on the matrix.

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Patent Search:

Swing out clothes rack:
-Swinging Arm Clothes Rack. US3352430

Outfit Selection Closet:
-Online Wardrobe. EP12393A2
-Method and system for generating a recommendation for a selection of a piece of clothing. WO 2002017160 A2

Smart Carts:
-Method of manufacturing a security thread having an embedded microchip, security thread and document comprising the thread. WO 2004043706 A1
-A microchip monitoring system and method. EP 1798698 A2

Overhead Sliding Racks:
-Railway vehicle with sliding doors. EP 2371653 A2
-Regulation mechanism for sliding doors. EP 2053190 B1

Pre-Order:
-Pre-order wholesale system and method. WO 2005057360 A2

For pricing, I calculated that the cheapest products would be the swing out clothes rack and the sliding clothes rack. Because of the hardware and assembly, the sliding rack I would estimate to cost $40-$60 at the store. The swinging racks, only around $20. The preordering system would cost the amount to develop and run the software, as well as the labor hours to assemble the packages. The convenience fee though I would estimate at around $8. The Smart Cart system is hard to estimate, because it would require many microchips and scanners. The carts would be rather expensive compared to carts without the technology incorporated, but the microchips would have to be cheap and easily manufacturable. The software would also be designed. This would be a large expense for a retailer.

Assignment #5

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This weeks assignment was a lot of independent work as opposed to group work that we've been doing lately!

The problem I decided to look at was: There needs to be an easier/more efficient way to thin the crowded aisles during the busy holiday shopping season.

I decided to focus mainly on clothing racks, for this was an actual product related to how aisle are organized that has room for improvement.

Part One was to apply the S.C.A.M.P.E.R. technique to help generate some ideas (Scamper is an acronym for several different ways to analyze how to improve an existing product).

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S - Substitute

Thoughts and Ideas:
-What if clothes were hung from the ceiling by strings rather than hung on racks?
-What if they had clothes that were hung multiple wide rather than multiple deep?
-What if all retail shopping was set up like an IKEA showroom/warehouse pick up?

C - Combine

Thoughts and Ideas:
-Is there a way to combine the floor and the clothes rack/hangers?
-Is there a way for your cart to interact with the clothes rack?
-Can the clothing displays be arranged similarly to the way different products are displayed (toys, appliances, etc.)?

A - Adapt

Thoughts and Ideas:
-Add technology. How about several automated closets in a store. Would that work?
-What if the racks were movable?

M - Magnify

Thoughts and Ideas:
-Stack higher rather than deeper
-Make bigger hangers to hold more items per hook
-Add more hooks to existing rack types to accomodate more hanging potential

P - Put to Other Uses

Thoughts and ideas:
-What else gets hung? Butcher shop carcasses, people... :/
-Why are our closets organized differently than clothing racks in stores?

E - Eliminate

Thoughts and Ideas:
-What if instead of extruding bumps to hold hangers, there were divets?
-Is there a way to eliminate the entire rack together?
-What if circular racks were organized more compactly?

R - Reverse

Thoughts and Ideas:
-What if toys and other items were organized like they hang clothes?
-No racks. Clothes drop from overhead ceiling chutes.
-Turn existing rack shapes upside down. What do you get?

While most of these ideas are nonsensical, some may be able to be evolved into more practical ideas.

Part Two was to set up a table to generate ideas. I decided that a morphological analysis would be the best way to organize this type of information. I identified the qualities that a racks must have:

-It has to display whatever it's holding
-It has to be easily accessible
-It has to store multiple items

From there I generated several items that, although may be completely unrelated to clothing racks, fulfill at least one of these qualities in their own way. From combining several of these products, or repurposing them, new ideas were generated.

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Part Three was to look at the more silly/whimsical ideas that were generated in last week's Blue Sky Idea Generation brainstorming session and turn them into more feasible ideas. Here were a few:

Use Tear Gas to Control Shopping Crowds. - No.
Better: Use maybe colored smoke or color coded signage to make navigating within a store easier.

Have Drive Thru Shopping. - Not practical.
Better: Be able to pre-pack your cart online, so when you go to the store there's an assembled package ready for you to just pick up, eliminating in-store shopping altogether.

Laned-Roped Off Aisles. - Adds more clutter.
Better: Have painted lines on the ground to better try to direct the flow of traffic.

Make Thinner Aisles, But More of Them. - Makes things more crowded.
Better: Stack higher! Use ramps and multi-level shopping to conserve space

Finally, Part Four was to select 10 ideas that could be carried forwards with or that showed potential for improvement and realistic application. The ten I chose were:

Pre Order/Pre Pack Your Cart Online
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Swing Out Clothes Racks
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Reinventing the Circular Rack
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Space/Material Saving Racks
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The Smart Closet Technology
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Utilizing Monster's Inc. Technology
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Sliding Racks
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Including Rest Areas in Stores
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Smart Carts
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Leonardo's Closet
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It will be interesting to see what comes of these ideas, if anything of any, in the weeks to come.

Assignment #4

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Our assignment this week was to take our two problem statements and turn then into prompts to drive a brainstorming session. My two problems were related to how long cashier lines take to check out with you items, as well as how crowded aisles are during the busy holiday shopping rush. From these, my prompts became:

"There needs to be a better/quicker way to check out with your items"

and

"There needs to be a better way to maneuver more easily through crowded holiday shopping aisles."

These drove the brainstorming sessions I facilitated.

I gathered together some of my brothers to start generating some ideas. Silly ones, real ones, good ones, bad ones. Anything to keep the ideas flowing and the creative juices at work. Most of them were nonsensical, such as The Sorting Sombrero that when placed upon your head, decided what you would be buying his holiday season.

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< The Sorting Sombrero

Together, Tyler, George, Matt, Sam, Wyatt, Andrew, and Dylan came up with some pretty crazy ideas for both prompts. Here are some notes that I observed while they brainstormed:


-I held it in the main room of the house, where most of the social interaction happens normally, so It was a very comfortable environment for everyone.

-People tended to build off of other people's thoughts and ideas

-Everyone seems to compliment and discuss each other's ideas when they shared them

-There's application of other real-world things related to the prompts (for example, allusions to Harry Potter, or similar techniques that fraternity parties use to control crowds)

-They became quite fond of the 'come up with bad ideas' spin on brainstorming

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BUT WAIT!

That wasn't the only part of the assignment. We also had to create a new creative tool/game to keep the creativity rolling when the ideas became stretched thin. I used some brain writing techniques to come up with words I associate with the word "improv." I settled on random, funny, and quick. With this came the new game, "Uncle Jack!" The rules are as follows:

1. This is a competition. A competition about who's Uncle Jack is more awesome. Didn't know you had an Uncle Jack? Strange. Because you do.
2. The 2 players take turns going back and forth saying why their Uncle Jack is more awesome in the form of "Well my Uncle Jack...." or something of the kind. Each time a player takes too long to think of a reason to counteract why their Uncle Jack is better than the reason their opponent gave for why THEIR Uncle Jack is better, or if they get caught up laughing, they get buzzed out and a new person fills their place. Similar to the Who's Line is it Anyway's game where they're only allowed to speak in questions. Here are some of my favorite reasons why the players' Uncle Jack is so much better than the rest:

My Uncle Jack married a shark.
My Uncle Jack had an affair with your uncle's shark-wife, Mrs. Uncle Jack.
My Uncle Jack is Batman.
My Uncle Jack will find you.
My Uncle Jack ate my parents for no reason.

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My Uncle Jack. >

The guys really seemed to like it! The bonding aspect that developed between the brainstorming and the game was really fun to watch unfold. I tried to have the group sort and favorite ideas that they thought were the best, but no one seemed to take that part seriously and only voted for the more...inappropriate ones. Ultimately, from all the ideas, there were a few that stuck out in particular.


When asked how to thin the holiday crowds, there was mentioned:

1. Tear Gas.

2. Having the store layout be like a grocery store rather than retail.

3. Drive Thru Shopping.

4. Laned/Roped-off Aisles.

5. Having thinner aisles, but more of them that repeat items.


Some of the better ideas for how to make check out lines go faster were:


1. More checkout lines scattered all over the store, not just at the front.

2. Cashiers with 6 arms.

3. Smart-Carts that know what you've put in them and create a running tally.

4. Incentivize cashiers based on how many people they get through their lane.

5. Simply have more competent employees working.


These were just a few that although may seem somewhat silly, could hold details that may become the basis of a real product. It will be interesting to see what comes of this nonsense.

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Assignment #3

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My subcategory.....

wait for it.

Is Holiday Retail Environments!

sweet.

The first part of this assignment was to ask. ASK!
So I interviewed 3 different people:

1. My friend Tyler who doesn't do a whole lot of shopping in stores during the holiday season (compared to my other interview subjects).

2. My mom who, although we're not supposed to interview family, I thought would be a great resource because she has young kids to shop for still and has a completely different take on shopping than early adults.

3. My friend Kari who works in retail at the Mall of America. She does a lot of shopping for small trinkets for friends, as well as I thought would have an interesting opinion on the matter because she's seen both sides of the shopping experience.

I tried to tailor the interview questions to each person. So for Tyler I tried to ask questions that related to more of what he thinks of holiday shopping in general.
While for my mom I asked questions that dealt more with the annoyances or stresses of shopping (while not trying to load the questions).

Questions I asked each of the participants

Tyler:
Do you do much shopping around the holidays?
Where do you do most of your holiday shopping?
When I say "shopping for the holidays," what do you think of?
Do you have any comments about the shopping environment?
If you could invent one item to make shopping easier, what would it be?

His interview was interesting. While the questions were a little more broad, his answers told a lot. When asked about the product, he suggested that,

"...each customer should be given a bar code scanner upon entry, and you scan everything you put in your cart. That way when you checkout, you just hand them the gun and pay for what you bought."

With this suggestion he shows that he thinks checkout lines take too much time. Speed appeared to be his main concern, because he frequently mentioned the division between "down to the point" shoppers and "lollygaggers." As well as his disgust for the latter.

Erika:
Where do you usually shop for the holidays?
What do you think of the shopping environment?
What are some troubles with shopping, if any?
What would make Christmas shopping easier?
How does holiday shopping feel?

Her perspective of shopping is that it's stressful and time consuming. She mentioned the amount of times she would have to run to the stores and how many stores she'd have to go to. She mainly shops by seeing an item in the paper or catalogue (or if my brother and sister pick out an item), then going to to store to get that specific item. Sometimes it's hard to find that one specific thing though in the actual store.

Kari:
What comes to mind when I say "holiday shopping?"
Who do you shop for?
Do you have any comments about the shopping environment?
What would make shopping easier?

Kari's answers were interesting, because they related to her pre-existing shopping knowledge. She commented mainly (or complained, rather) about the actual environment when shopping, while most people talked about the shopping process. Her main focus was on how crowded it is because the aisles are too narrow and there's too many people with carts and bags.


The other parts of this assignment were to observe and experience.

I went to Target and tried to not-so-creepily observe some people shopping. I'm not quite sure how my results are applicable though, because it wasn't the type of heavy shopping that goes on right near the deadline. People seemed to be in no rush necessarily, just looking at some of the Thanksgiving decorations and cheap candy.

Experiencing didn't really yield any breakthrough results. The carts were a little dumb to maneuver when turning or leaving to pick up items. Other than that the only real thing I noticed was the time it took to checkout.

I've concluded that there needs to be a better way to easily maneuver through aisles while shopping because of crowdedness, as well as there needs to be a faster method of checking out once you have your items. These two things I feel will cut down on the time spent shopping the most.

Assignment #2

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Our assignment was to create a winter themed mind map, select three subcategories to further explore, and to come up with ten non-reality bound inventions from our mind map.

This is my map:

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It's a pretty standard map, however there's one offshoot that I'd like to elaborate on. This subgrouop is called "That Feel." This describes the personal warm, fuzzy, christmas feeling I get when winter comes. I'm not sure if everyone gets this feeling, but I imagine it's what the "Christmas spirit" is. Either way, I tried to make some connections to it by seeing what comes to mind when I imagine that feeling. A culmination of these (coziness, the feeling of new, family, love, recursive) all provide me with those Christmas fuzzies.

This is why for the first subgroup I chose this idea of "That Feel." I also chose "Cold" and "Sales." Cold I chose because it to me seems like it will take the route of fashion. I also chose sales because it might lead to the area of department stores and marketing layouts.

10 Ideas:

1. Fire Gloves

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These handheld flame-tossers would be perfect for melting your way through a deep patch of snow, or clear off your sidewalk and driveway. Possible hazards include 3rd degree burns and a new form of neo fire-bullying.

2. Chocolate Mugs

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What's the one thing that can make egg nog any better?! That's right, Booze! And what's the one thing that can make even that better?! An edible white chocolate cup! As you drink the cup down, feel free to break off pieces of the cup and dip it in the drink! Considerations include messy hands and increased use of coasters.

3. Sled Shoes

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Step aside snowboarding, this new toy takes carpet sliders to the extreme! Sled shoes are two, roughly foot sized mini-snowboards that essentially act as if you're magically sliding down the slope on your feet. New tricks and hilarious youtube falls anticipated.

4. Icicle Guillotine

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Large icicles can be dangerous when hanging from your house (after all, you'll shoot your eye out kid!). The icicle guillotine allows for people on the grounds to safety chop down icicles from their gutters.

5. Secret Breath Pen

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This toy plays on the idea of writing on foggy car windows with your finger and having it show back up when it fogs up later. The breath pen would be essentially a finger, but with stylish tips and stamps. The drawing could be made invisibly and then revealed when the drawer breathes on the window. Kids love to breath on things.

6. Light Gun

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The light gun saves you hours of putting up lights by literally shooting lights on to your house, eliminating breaking out the pesky old ladder. The light gun can project your Christmas lights (almost) safely over 40 feet. Being a man just got that much cooler.

7. Snowball Gatlin

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Every 10 year old's dream. The Snowball Gatlin Gun can turn a pile of snow into 50 snowballs and fire them all in under 8 seconds with snow reaching speeds upwards to 80mph. Swiveling action perfect for those outnumbered battles. Ages 3+.

8. Heated Snowsuit

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This snowsuit takes the idea of a heating blanket and brings it to wearable use. A battery operated, heated core would keep the wearer warm all over. This could be great for long day treks, as well as keep hypothermia at bay for a lost hiker.

9. Cuddle-Me App

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The Cuddle-Me app finds people around you who just want to cuddle up nicely around the Christmas season. Everyone likes having a cuddle buddy, especially at that time of year. Hot chocolate and a fire encouraged, strictly cuddling permitted only. Don't make it one of those kind of things.

10. Smelly Paintings

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This idea I thought of when I thought about the different dates that people go on during the winter months. I thought about an art museum and how if there was some way to incorporate smell into the paintings, it would more so pull the viewer into the work. It's kind of like those movie theaters that have smell or mist. An open field could have the smell of prairie grasses blow lightly from the painting.

While many of these are not exactly realistic or practical, they could prove hold key ideas that could impose on similar concepts down the road.

Assignment #1

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When I first started brainstorming ideas, I thought of the name "cookie." It's really not a cookie. They should be called "bakies" if anything. But that got me thinking. I want to make a cookie that's more "cooked;" I want to make a cookie that's more gourmet and actually uses cooking techniques.

When I think of fancy cooking I think of drizzling something over the top and adding some kind of crumble topping. Like fancy cheesecakes. Essentially my entire cookie was driven from these decorative accessories. The drizzle would be chocolate. Easy. But for the crumbs I had to think a bit. I decided on graham crackers. Chocolate and graham crackers. It was to be a s'mores cookie!

I've seen s'mores bars before, ice cream, blizzards, shakes, but never s'mores cookies. Obviously it would have to include marshmallows as well. And It should probably have more graham crackers. So I decided to add crushed graham crackers into the mix.

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The finished product.

Ingredients:
(makes approx. 30)

2 1/2 cups flour
2 tbsp baking soda
2 sticks butter
2 eggs
24 oz chocolate chunks. Not chips. (2 bags)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 graham crackers
1 bag tiny marshmallows

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In one bowl mix flour and baking soda. Set aside.
3. In another bowl mix the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Mix in the flour/baking soda mix slowly while stirring.
4. Add one bag of chocolate chunks to the mix.
5. Crumble 4 graham crackers into chunks roughly the size of the chocolate chunks. Add to the mix.
6. Place 12 cookie dough balls on a greased baking sheet. Place in oven for 8 minutes.
7. While the cookies bake, melt the other bag of chocolate into a liquid by placing the chunks into a bowl, set within a pot of boiling water.
8. After 8 minutes, take the cookies out and place 3-4 marshmallows evenly spaced on each cookie.
9. Place back in the oven for 2 more minutes.
10. Take the cookies out and drizzle chocolate over them.
11. Crumble remaining graham crackers into a fine powder and sprinkle evenly over drizzled cookies.

I used the general template for making chocolate chip cookies to get the standard baking goods ratio (flour, eggs, sugar, etc.). The only problem I had was initially I put the marshmallows on the cookies before baking them. They got too melty and started to scorch. Otherwise it was a pretty painless, cookie dough eating-filled process.

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Additional process pics:
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