John Lewtas FS

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product ideas

(I will be adding better drawings rendered in rhino if I have the time)

auto bread-cleaning plate

This plate serves two purposes, it provides a designates place for your bread so it doesn't take up space on your plate. The second benefit is as you eat, your food residue drains into it, making it easier to clean your plate when you're done with everything else, and it has already absorbed a significant portion of your food.

two person swivel chair

Meant for parks and other public places, this chair encourages cooperation between two strangers. They don't sit face to face but rather, side by side, facing opposite directions. In a world where we avoid contact with strangers like the plague, this will require two people to operate (or co-operate) and can strengthen a relationship, or create a new one.

has it been invented yet?

The worst part of the creative process is you find out whatever you're creating has already been created. This site would provide an open-source database of everything that's ever been invented. Submitting a new invention would require an application, which would be reviewed by moderators to ensure that it's not fraudulent and that it's not a duplicate entry. This way, people can make sure that whatever they're inventing hasn't already been created, and would also allow them to get their product out there. The site would also include a list of things haven't been invented but people feel a need for. Anyone can contribute to this, so someone with a creative block can either develop these ideas or use them for inspiration. Of course, people submitting these ideas would forgo all intellectual property rights, and would not be allowed to pursue legal action if their idea is developed.

reading reactions for 9.9.15

The Messy Minds of Creative People

This article does a pretty good job of categorizing creative types, but I'm not sure there are just two steps to the creative process. I will concede that there generation and selection are indeed steps in the process, but I believe that it is an over-simplification. I understand the article states that these two are two steps that can be agreed upon, so I will submit my own steps. I think within those two categories alone there is a lot of rapidly switching back and forth, or at least in my creative process. I also believe that in the beginning, there needs to be an inspiration, a spark. As stated in the next article, this initial inspiration is not always the end product, and that it changes during a phase of development, or even earlier, in a large critique where someone takes the idea and runs with it, not always in the direction intended, but ultimately for the better. I don't think selection is a good place to stop, either. The object or service or company still needs to be designed, organized, and produced/created. These are, I believe crucial steps in the process and require another type of creativity probably best likened to the convergent type, as sometimes the translation to reality can drastically change the product/company. This is my long-winded way of saying the article said too little and focused on a small portion of a larger process.

Ideas for Startups

I find I can relate to this article a little more. When trying to create, I find myself too soon shooting down my own ideas before developing them or even thinking twice. To put it in terms of the previous article, I fluctuate too rapidly between generation and selection, and am often too critical. I can also identify with with the outcome being so different than the first idea that sometimes it's not even the same medium. The article then took an unexpected turn when it began talking about doodling as a manifestation of your creative process, which is something that had never occurred to me before. I'll have to pay attention next time I start doodling. The rest of this article is informative and straightforward, and I don't have much else to say about it, although I would like to comment that it had never occurred to me to think of a startup as something you will eventually sell, and to be careful not to limit yourself to one buyer. Instead we should target multiple potential buyers so there is some element of competition and overall urgency.

reading reactions for 9.16.15

Design Thinking

This article suggests an interesting approach to the way we design objects and systems. Instead of a team of creators coming up with innovations, then passing it off to someone else to package it, then again someone else to produce it and distribute it, it suggests that instead the product be a collaboration including all steps of production as well as consulting the consumer who will eventually buy this product. This way, the product is not a disjointed process completely separated into steps, and distant from the consumer who will use it. It cites the example of Thomas Edison who built an industry around his invention, and made it necessary to have his product, otherwise it was "simply a parlor trick." I think that's a powerful idea, to build and industry that revolves around a single piece of technology. It then went on to explain his work in Kaiser Permanente and Shimano's Coasting campaign, and I really don't have much to say about it other than they were well executed and inspirational to people like me, who didn't know this was something I wanted to do until I read about them.

Design for Action

So this article was also (co-)written by Tim Brown, who is the CEO of IDEO, a design firm out of California. The layout of these two articles is pretty much the same: describe design thinking, give examples that Tim Brown worked on himself, then tell people why design thinking is essential to the future of humanity. It sounds very cynical when I write it out but I agree with what the article is saying. I won't reiterate the examples given because we've both read the article, but instead just react to it. Tim Brown's writing on this topic has opened my eyes to a profession and field of study that I never knew existed before this class, and something I wish to pursue in the future. He works with amazing people who are driven to make the world a better place, and writes about it like it's an everyday experience for him (which I suppose it is). I think he and his company are revolutionary and should be an inspiration to people and companies everywhere.

product idea for 9.23


inspiration: Benny Schwartz: The Paradox of Choice
This idea began as something like this then I figured out it already existed and it was way too complicated.

John, check this out, it may help you: Hadilmarzouq (talk) 13:19, 27 September 2015 (UTC)

(just imagine this is being read by a smooth calming voice that is audible molasses over a faint upbeat indie tune plucked out on a guitar.)
We live in a world of smartphones, which have been a quickly advancing field because everyone wants one. No one wants to carry around a computer when they can do it on their smartphone. But our 21st century Manifest Destiny has spiraled out of control; in our quest to have the world in our pockets, we are closer to the singularity than we think. Soon our bodies will become cumbersome husks that only serve to slow us down, only the poor and the nomadic will be excluded from the hivemind. On every street corner there will be body shops where you can swap out your consciousness into another, more attractive body; dentists and doctors will go out of business and body disposal units will flourish as we continue to propagate our throwaway culture as faulty and outdated bodies are left in dumpsters like food scraps or toy packaging. Sure, there will be a few non-profits that will attempt to recycle bodies, compost them and repackage them as soil, but no one will buy it because all our gardens are digital while our farms are run by agricultural robots. But most of the bodies, along with hazardous waste and petty criminals, will be slung into orbit and a massive body island will appear as a dark cloud over the sun, slowly reaching critical mass until it forms a black hole and swallows the earth, all the while humans continue to consume, consolidate, then throw away whatever's left over.

(as this section goes on, the music gets more upbeat; some percussion can be heard, maybe some woodwinds in the background, or an upright bass)
In our incessant quest to put everything in our pockets, we have forgotten those who might have fallen behind the learning curve, or simply chose to opt out of the inevitable hivemind. This is for those of us that want a phone that adds to our lives, not becomes them. How many features do we have on our smartphones that we never use and cannot remove as a result of a company's last grasp at relevance? How many apps do we download that we use once then never again? How much do we pay for unlimited calling and texting when we only have finite time? How many cameras high-resolution have been thrown out as a result of lower-resolution ones being in our pockets all the time? How many PDAs and calendars before them? How many MP3 players, CDs, tapes, records and other physical media have been forced into obsolescence in favor of 'it's all in the cloud'? How many countless physical items have yet to be consumed then outdated as someone finds a way to fit them onto our phones? How many sweet old grandmothers will be befuddled and terrified by interface of the latest iPhone (or worse, Android)? How many digitally challenged parents will download multiple apps that do the same thing? This is where the simpliPhone comes in.

(the music slows again, back to its cheery, carefree ukulele tune) The simpliPhone has all the features you want and none that you don't. It can be set up as simply or as complex as you like. It has three buttons, a power button, and two other buttons that can be switched out as you see fit. The default is the typical "Talk" and "End" configuration, but it can be swapped out for contacts, texting, or email. The case is made from recycled aluminum. The phone is Qi enabled to allow wireless charging because we don't need more cords. The touchscreen is made for scrolling vertically and has a very simple interface. It has wifi and data connection but no internet app. It has no fancy backgrounds or lock screens, just solid colors and simple gradients. It has no games or stores, no music and no fancy or obnoxious ringtones. Simple bleeps and bloops, little pings and rings but nothing that will startle grandma when you call her. It has no camera, nor any sort of media storage. Those features are readily available on other phones, and humanity doesn't need another.

The simpliPhone has all the features you use and none that you don't.

(so I was thinking the ad would end with a little graphic where it says in grey letters over a white background 'simplify', but then the 'fy' scrolls down and fades out and is replaced with 'Phone' which enters in a similar manner.)

Logistically, the phone would run off existing cell networks like Tracfone, and you would only pay for the features you use. It would run off similar model to the Tracphone (only paying for the service you use), but instead of having to go pick up a card, the user gets a bill at the end of the month charging them for the minutes, texts and data they used. The simpliPhone has data and wifi capabilities but, as stated earlier, no internet application. It will only connect to wifi to save on data when updating email, which can have any number of accounts. It has full capabilities to open and view photos from email and texts, but no camera. At the top of the home screen would be the 'Inbox' button which would consolidate all incoming texts, emails and voicemails. The idea is that the simpliPhone has all the features you need and none you don't, so if grandma doesn't have email or can't text, those features can be removed in the store, but if she goes back on her decision, the apps can be added back for a fee. Each feature has a cost associated (multiplied by the amount you use) with it that would be included in your monthly fee. Depending on what you so desired, you could pay for just texting, or phone and email, or any combination of the three.

reading reactions for 9.23.15

What is Strategy?

This article is very articulate and thorough, and does a good job of explaining what strategy is not. It spends far to much time explaining what comparitve advantage and operational effectiveness are, but in the last few pages of the article does it explain what strategy is. Strategy is the sum of a bunch of moving parts. For example: positioning, efficiency, and operational effectiveness are all neccesary parts of a business but alone are not sufficient. It also states and reiterates that the myth of no tradeoffs is a myth perpeuated by bad administrative training, and failure to choose can be fatal to companies. Throughout the article it sites several examples of good strategy, companies like Ikea and Southwest Airlines. Southwest, for example, offers low cost air travel and quick departures at the expense of less in-flight luxuries. They standardized their fleet to Boeing 737s so training is simple and cleanup is efficient. They implemented automatic ticketing at the gate so as to reduce the cost of paying attendants and could instead pay their ground crews higher wages to do better work. Southwest chose to market to the price and time sensitive flyer (usually commuters), and as a result, have cornered the market on it with years of experience. Other airlines such as Continental saw how successful Southwest was and decided to make their own low-cost commuter flights under the name Continental Lite, which eventually ran the company into the ground (litteraly) because trade-offs had to be made that we not forseen. The article articulates how new companies can choose to completely copy a business's strategy or existing ones can sidle up to them just as Continental did, but it will ultimately fail because copying an entire company's strategy is almost never 100% accurate.

The Five Competitive Forces that Shape Strategy

This is a very dense article to someone who has little to no background in business, and I think it featured a lot of buzzwords that I had to look up in order to understand fully (like bonanza, is that a regularly used term?). Despite its dense form, I was able to pull out the five main forces (although he emphasizes that they are factors not forces): the threat of new entry, supplier power and buyer power, substitution and rivalry. I won't waste time reiterating all of them because this is a reaction, not a rephrasing. I'd say in my infrequent musings and uneducated guesses of how business works, I'd never considered at least two of these (new entry and rivalry) and perhaps a third (supplier power) as factors that would influence a business plan. Although I suppose I should have at least considered supplier power, having some previous education economics (supply and demand), but I never made the connection. Having not finished both articles before working on my product idea, I'd say I have some minor rethinking to do and will certainly be editing what I wrote tonight. Because of this, I'd say this article is well written and a good starting point for someone in my position. I enjoyed reading this although it did get a little dense at times. I couldn't help but find myself applying real-world examples such as Apple to these concepts, such as all the proprietary parts that inhibit anyone from switching to another company, as well as producing its own exclusive OS. I'd buy Apple products in a heartbeat if these entry barriers weren't in place simply because they are so well designed. But alas, I'm a college student from a middle class family and I can't afford it. I think Apple may have cornered the market of people willing to pay exorbitant prices for well designed but proprietary hardware and software, but they've done it so subtly that anyone left behind the curve can't afford to enter it now.

reading reactions for 9.30.15

SWOT Analysis Part I and II

These articles were pretty straightforward. However, it seems that this process is meant for existing companies, not ones that are just starting up or we are hypothetically creating. It can give some pointers and some ideals to aim for, but I don't feel that it's completely fitting. There were some helpful parts that made me think about what I wanted a company to do, but again, the overarching concepts were a little out of reach when just starting a company, or in our case, drafting one. Maybe it's that I just don't understand the assignment fully, but when applying SWOT analysis to our company ideas, are we supposed to analyze it as it is now (little more than a pipe dream) or as a hypothetical; the company has been established and runs ideally? I feel like in either case, a SWOT analysis wouldn't really help.

Anyhow, it informed me about things such as core competencies (what they are and how to formulate them, but also something to aim for), but things like price elasticity is exactly what we are going over right now in Microeconomics, so I really don't have much to say about it. Although the idea of grappling for customers who are more price-sensitive is something that never occurred to me as a business strategy. It reminded me of those ads that I think DirectTV ran where for every friend you referred that converted to DTV you would get $100, and in the ad, the friends' faces would be replaced with portraits of Benjamin Franklin. It just got me thinking about how screwed up it is to encourage us to view our friends as sources of income.

Where is your SWOT analysis for your company idea? Robert_Ransick (talk) 12:09, 30 September 2015 (UTC)

product ideas

I've recently joined forces with Erika_Lygren_FS.

rhino assignment

JohnsProgress.jpg What I've done here is two boxes- the smaller one fits into the other. At the time this screen capture was taken I was trying to work on the thing on the side, but it wasn't working out. I'm sure there's some mathematical property for this, but I couldn't get a 3d object with a concave corner to lay out as a 2d object.

reading reactions for 10.7.15

Experience Prototyping

I'm a little conflicted about this article. It's more of a personal thing than the actual content of the article, but my initial reaction is this is exactly the sort of thing I cannot stand: I envisioned a bunch of touchy-feely social experiments conducted by a bunch of jargon-spouting yuppies in button-up gingham shirts in an all-glass three story office building in LA, who all rode to work on fixed gear bikes and drink craft beers with friends on the weekends. I don't know why I don't like these people (probably my conservative family) or if I even do hate it, because honestly someday I might end up in that sort of place with these kinds of people, or even become one myself. But I also have to respect it because I believe it produces better results than a bunch of sweaty middle-aged men wearing short-sleeve button-downs with basic striped ties from the local markdown chain (because it's practical), all sitting in cubibcles and attending the minimum amount of meetings because there are free donuts, who all go home every night to their typical two child nuclear family and consume their government-mandated blend of TV and ads before crawling into bed next to their homely yet practical wife and wake up the next morning to do it all again. I realize at this point I have diverged so far from the content of the article that I need to confess to having just a little bit of fun before continuing with my reaction.

Anyhow, I think the actual content of the article is insight into another mode of prototyping that compliments rapid-iterative prototyping. It shares core concepts with RIP like using analogous everyday objects to create the experience of using a product, rather than investing time into an expensive non-functioning prototype that tells the consumer what it looks like. But the idea, as the name suggests, is to create something larger than an idea or an image, but an experience. They cite Lao Tse, a Chinese philosopher: "What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I understand." This the driving force behind experience prototyping, to attempt to record an experience rather than recieve a reaction. I think they cite some good examples, like the defribrillating pacemaker or ROV submersible, but unlike other articles we have read, I was a little disappointed when they moved onto the next example before explainging how they used their data to develop their product. Sometimes they would vaguely mention something like 'the deisgn team was able to use this to improve the implementation of the product,' which just left me wondering.

Just another quick comment before I move on, I was amused at the Maypole product they described, which detailed a image communication software platform that was hooked up to a large battery pack but was nonetheless a reportedly successful peice of hardware (although I don't remember hearing about it). It's amusing that now we have that sort of technology in our pockets as a part of our phones, it's amazing to note how quickly technology can be condensed.

The Design of Everyday Things

This is exactly the kind of reading I should be doing on my own. I will certainly be checking this out of the library at some point in the future. It also made me reconsider what exactly my focus is, if I want to stick with industrial design or switch to interaction design, because that seems that the latter is just as interesting or even more so to me right now. I really liked this chapter, and I made a few annotations, so I will just run through were I annotated things and what I said. To begin with, where he says "All artificial things are designed," I just asked myself (more of an art project really, but still kind of relevant) if there is some way to create something that isn't designed. I also underlined pretty much the entire paragraph where he talks about when the product malfunctions, it feels as though we, as a consumer, are to blame for not understanding how it works, in short, "It is not our duty to understand the arbitrary meaningless dictates of machines." This got me thinking, about the relationship between humans and machines, and that we are machines in a sense, but completely organic and far more complex than any machine that exists today (this may not actually be the case, but sometimes I think so). However, we have hopes, dreams, and a drive to do things, whereas machines are simply reactors to input that humans can control. For the same reason that mechanisms (like a gearbox) requires precisely milled parts, when something that affects us in a negative way, we begin to malfunction and get cranky. This is where design is crucial- we like things that fit into hands nicely, or foods that help us stay alive. So just as we create (near) perfect machines with perfectly manufactured parts, so must we design objects that mesh well with the gears of humanity.

He then states that designers need to focus on when things go wrong, and cannot assume that everything will go well with a consumer, which is something he says engineers do. He says they expect people to act rationally and read the instructions. But people just won't do that, and when they don't, things go wrong. So it is the job of the designer to let the consumer what went wrong, which is exactly what I have learned from computer science (that and assuming the user is always going to be a malicious asshole). An example of bad design would be when I tried to connect my windows phone to my windows 8 computer, which run on the same operating system. But instead of giving me an error message that I can fix myself or even bring to a customer service rep who could help me fix it, it just told me "Your computer and phone aren't playing nice. Try again later." I kid you not, that is the exact wording. It's not helpful at all. I figure it's one of two things, the programmers assumed I was someone who had no previous knowledge of computers (historically not why you would have Windows or buy a Windows phone), or they were just lazy and didn't bother to help the user debug the error. It was infuriating and I still can't connect the two and have to rely on my dying laptop to sync music to my phone, which means because I like to have CDs, I have to load them on both computers.

Later, he distinguishes signifiers from affordance, and I remembered my trip to England a few years back and seeing all large glass panels on storefronts all had a line of dots sandblasted across it, and the only reason I could figure that it was there is to let people know it's a window and to not walk into it. It got me thinking that must have been the product of people walking into windows too often, which I guess still happens in America because I haven't seen that glass since. The last thing I noted was when he said that the designer cannot communicate directly with the users (when referring to system image), I wondered if there was something (again an art project) that would every day tell the user something that wasn't at all inherent from the system design and after a month the user would have a completely different product than what they started with.

reading reactions for 10.14.15

Business Canvas Reading

This reading seemed pretty straightforward. It certainly helped in the creation of a business canvas, but there wasn't much to react to other than it's well structured and nicely written. I had one question about why the business canvas is structured the way it is: Why do we fill it in left to right when we read it right to left? I understand that this is human-centered, customer-comes-first design, but why not structure it in the reverse order? They gave the explanation of left brain (logic) and right brain (emotions) for why it is the way it is, but my guess is because as a business who would do this sort of exercise, we like to see the business first and customers second, which to me seems to make human-centered design pointless. Maybe my brain is just in economics mode right now, but it seems as though it nullifies the point of doing it that way to begin with.

reading reactions for 10.21.15

Business Model Generation

Another pretty straightforward reading, and once again, I don't have much of a reaction other than it was helpful in continuing to develop our business idea.

While not directly related to the reading, something I have been thinking about recently is a term economist Joseph Schumpter coined: "creative destruction." The theory essentially states that because there will always be advancements in technology (the industry), that these developing new markets will dismantle the old, antiquating jobs and entire trades. For example, when Henry Ford embraced the assembly line, where any unskilled laborer can come in at any point on the line with maybe half a day's training, it destroyed the need for specialized workers who would take up large parts of the assembly process and were highly skilled. Or the plastics industry creating a need for petrochemicists and eliminating a good portion of demand for metal workers and wood workers. Entrepreneurs are also a huge contributor to this phenomenon, as they create new markets or radically revolutionize existing ones. This term mostly applies to economics, but I can't help but draw the same kind of connections between this and physical goods: how many devices were we sold by being "the next best thing" and that "everyone needs one," then outdated just a few years later by the same companies (*cough* apple *cough*). How many cameras have been thrown away or neglected (and to that end, how many print processing shops have been shut down) because almost all photos now exist in a digital format, and all in our pockets? The only reason we keep doing this is because we can't see the landfills where our old technology goes, and by the time we can see them, it will already be too late.

So this is my question: how can I, in good conscience, continue with industrial design and not perpetuate our throwaway culture? Is my only choice to become some sort of all-goods recycler? Do I have to become a chemist and figure out a way to melt down our trash into consumable goods again? Do I have to start compacting trash and using it as currency, establishing the new gold standard? What would stop trash counterfeiters from doing the same thing? How can I create something that people want that doesn't antiquate some other product or otherwise produce waste? I think this is a more serious issue that I need to address on my own time (maybe in my plan), but I find writing these things out to be helpful, and this class sometimes triggers these rambling ruminations.

reading reactions for 10.28.15

Business Model Generation

Once again, I don't have much to say about this reading, other than it helped us in further developing our business idea. The moment when it really clicked was after I wrote a scenario, and it made me think more critically about something that I hadn't given much thought to at all. I understand that is the point of the reading, but I was a little skeptical until this point.

That's pretty much it, I don't have much to say about these 10 pages.