Getting and giving critiques

It is hard to believe that there is one week left before our final presentation. All the teams have come a long way from their first prototype. As per our group, we have been very busy in making the final testing circuit, 3-D printed band and the program for the software. When it comes to functionality all three three parts work perfectly on their own all we have to do is put them all together and start with the testing part.

Additionally, for testing, we have convinced our friends to test them for us. We would try to test the product for three types of dehydration. The first one being hydration when you are sweating, the second one when you have not had water for long and are actually dehydrated and lastly when you are perfectly hydrated. Our team cannot wait to test out the product as we are very excited about making it possible for each part to work. Furthermore, we got and gave helpful feedback on our existing prototype and our plan of action for the final product. We got some useful feedback for our product. One of the groups told us that instead of making the LEDs blink throughout it should blink 2-3 times as it would be very annoying to have it blinking while we are in class or in some meeting. Adding to that, we thought of making the LED blink 3-4 times and after that have a constant light. This is because there are chances that people might miss those three blinks.

We even critiqued other teams’ prototypes. One of the teams that we gave feedback to was making a security system that would send a notification to your mobile phone if someone entered your house. You can have this on your main door. It works with a motion sensor. The idea is whenever it detects motion it will send a text message. I enjoyed giving feedback to other teams prototypes as it was nice to hear other ideas that teams had.

According to me, the feedbacks allowed the groups to get a different perspective on their products. It also gave a sense of how the users would want to change the product and what would benefit them more. We will definitely incorporate the feedbacks we received and hope to make the product that can be used by everyone.

Getting There

It was time to get on with our project. The deadline is coming soon and it will be here anytime now. For the past couple of weeks, we have been focusing on testing and designing our prototype models. We have made two prototypes as of now and are ready to make our final model. Just to remind everyone, our product was the hydration wristband for a FitBit. The first prototype was a cardboard band prototype. That week even figured out the distance between the copper strips for the sensors. The following week we 3-D printed the band to check if the FitBit fits in the bumper or not. Unfortunately for us, we were unable to test out our band as the 3D printer could not print our design properly, the edge of one side of the band kept lifting up and we were sadly left with a strip of plastic. Additionally, we also made the copper circuit with all the wired soldered for the circuit.

This week we spent all the class time in the lab. I was working on the final model for the FitBit on Fusion360. This was the first time I was modeling a design that was designed by me completely. I couldn’t wait to see how it would turn out. I measured the actual FitBit charge 2 parts with a caliper to get the precise measurements so that I could make a perfect sized wristband which would prevent the screen from falling off. I then started printing it with the fully flex and the semi-flex materials. I realized that the flex material is hard to print with as I do not know the exact setting for it. However, to my surprise, the semi-flex material prints just like the regular PLA material. It was amazing to watch our self-designed wristband come to life. I guess my Industrial Design skills was put to test while modeling.

On Tuesday and Wednesday Ana and Ben met up at the FabLab to further work on the programming and moisture sensor. After these two sessions, our sensor is now able to do the following things:

  • Blink red 3 times, if the skin moisture is below average/dehydrated.
  • Blink blue 3 times, every 3 seconds (this will be changed to every 3 hours, as a this is an estimate of how often a person should drink a cup of water)
  • Blink green 3 times, if the skin moisture is too high, such as when a person is perspiring and losing water.

Please enjoy this video of me explaining what is happening with our sensor:

Printing yourself

I had never thought that one day I would be able to print myself. This week our class had the opportunity to digitally scan ourselves from the chest and above and then change the file into STL that could then be printed. To demonstrate this, Ariel had come into the lab with all the equipment needed. The process is to put the object on a turntable if the object is small enough and then let the turntable turn on its on and let the 3-D scanner do its job. “3D Laser Scanning is a non-contact, non-destructive technology that digitally captures the shape of physical objects using a line of laser light. 3D laser scanners create “point clouds” of data from the surface of an object.”

The digital scanner captures the object very precisely; I was shocked to see the amount of accuracy with which it scans. Ariel then told us that it actually takes millions of points on the surface, in the air, and then puts them all together to make a 3-D object that makes sense. This makes end number of surfaces which are then made into one whole product. This process was incredibly remarkable and intriguing to watch.


Here’s a summary of what had happened before class:

Wednesday – Ana and I met up at the MakerLab to scan the FitBit band. After meeting and talking to one of the Gurus in the lab we found out that it would be better to print the band in one piece. There are files on Thingiverse that we can edit according to our needs and use it for our project. The file is a downloadable link on Thingiverse.

Thursday – We had made plans on meeting with Brandon ( a student worker in FabLab ) on the previous Monday, during class time. So we all met up at 5 pm to work on our first prototype. We first discussed the appropriate path that we should take t approach our project. After discuss we came to a conclusion that our first prototype should include a basic circuit and we should have done the testing for the hydration sensor. We measured out different distances to see which would pick up the most activity.We even made the band with cardboard.

Completing the Blink Box

As we come to the end of the first half of the semester, we once again, for one last time went over to the South Quad for our last class at the Champaign-Urbana Community Fab Lab. Last class, my group practiced soldering wires together to make permanent joints for the light sensor blink box. This week was about making a box or you can say like an outer covering for the breadboard to make it look nice. For this process, we used laser cutting method and laser engraving method. It is one of the many creative processes that FabLab has to offer.

We used a new software to design our boxes and customize it the way we wanted to. It was a very similar to the Adobe Illustrator software (as told by the instructor). We were first asked to open Inkscape and were made familiar with some basic tools like the Align tool, border tool, etc. Then we were asked to open google and search for our favorite animal or anything else that we would want on our customized blink box. For my custom designs, I chose a very simple design. The left side of the box has a paper plane that is shown flying and on the other side I have the initial of my first name, that is ‘A’. I wanted to make my box very clean and minimalistic as that is the kind of design I like. side to represent a field of engineering/design as I am an engineering major. The other sides just had the basic elements that all the boxes had, to extrude the LED and the breadboard from.

After this, we obtained the template for the layout of the box from a website that makes layouts for such boxes for you. We then imported this file to Inkscape to further customize it. Now it was time for us to put the images that we selected online on the layout of the box. We could only use images that were black and white (like a stencil) and also that were not pixelated too much. The laser cutter could are very precise and could only make cuts of size 0.01. Another fun fact about the laser cutter is that there are two different cutting techniques you can employ, vector and raster. “Raster tends to be used for engraving things, while vector is much more adept at cutting things out.” The laser cutters only took about 10-15 minutes to cut my entire box with the engraving, which is pretty fast compared to that of a regular 3-D printer. This is not the only thing one can do with a laser cutter. There are a bunch of other ways to use a laser cutter. Check out this website for some cool ideas!

Assembling the pieces together was kind of like a jig-saw puzzle game. But hopefully, by the end of the class we were able to put our pieces together with all the other components that we made in our previous sessions to complete our blink box. It was amazing to see that completed blink box work as I plugged it with the battery. In all, these three sessions were full of creativity and new methodologies. I would definitely tell my friends about this super creative place that is available to us on campus!

Making Permanent Joints

FabLab is an exciting place to be at and it gets your creative juices flowing. This week as well we had our class at the FabLab. Last week we wired breadboards and used code to get our Arduinos working by uploading the code onto it. This week again our group was to learn a new way of working with Arduinos, that is the use of soldering technique. We joined the wires together by melting lead. The coding process is not a permanent way to join wires, however soldering is a permanent joint. It was much more challenging as there are many things that you need to keep in mind while soldering. This is a useful link that I found which tells you the do’s and don’t of the soldering process briefly.

“Soldering is a process in which two or more metal items are joined together by melting and then flowing a filler metal into the joint—the filler metal having a relatively low melting point. Soldering is used to form a permanent connection between electronic components.”

It took us the entire class time, which is 2 hours 40 minutes, to solder all the wires together. You can imagine now how tedious the soldering process is. The end result was the same as last week, the LED lights would light up according to the amount of brightness around it. The darker the light, the faster the LED lights would blink and the brighter the light the slower the LED blinks. It was just a different way of approaching it.

We have now acquired different skills to work with the Arduino and have become familiar with the entire process. This would be very helpful in our projects that we need to turn in at the end of this semester. Here is another link that I found interesting if someone wants to know more about the process of soldering and how it is done.

Learning about circuits

It was time for us to get some hands-on experience with building and making other interesting things. For this, we had the opportunity to go to the Champaign Urbana Community Fab Lab which is located near the South Quad in the building called Art Annex 2. This day was very different from the other days as today was when we started with the making process. The Fab Lab was a space with vastly modified products, for instance, a printer that could paint with water colors, electronic cutters, and fabric machines.

We were then split into three groups and hence were working on two different projects. My group was working on the electronics side of the project. Duncan and Andrea helped us in learning the working of LED lights on an Arduino board. An Arduino board is used to create sensors. “Arduino board designs use a variety of microprocessors and controllers. The boards are equipped with sets of digital and analog input/output (I/O) pins that may be interfaced to various expansion boards (shields) and other circuits. The boards feature serial communications interfaces, including Universal Serial Bus (USB) on some models, which are also used for loading programs from personal computers.” It was not that tough to use the Arduinos and therefore one can learn at home very easily. You can learn more about this on a website called ‘Instructables’. This is a website that tells you the step by step process of making an Arduino board yourself at home. There is a list of things that you would need to purchase to make this board which is also listed on the website.

As per our group, we are thinking of adding an electronic component in our product and that too a band that lights up due to certain reasons, so this was very helpful. The main purpose of the project that we were working on today was to make the LED lights blink based on the intensity of the light. The darker the light, the faster the LED lights would blink and the brighter the light the slower the LED blinks. There was a kind of a light sensor to which the board responded. By the end of the day, I could not believe that I actually made a circuit board that functions like a light sensor.

Getting inspired


#DeliveringIdeas #HowCanWe #BrainStorm #IDEO

I was greatly inspired by David Kelly, who is the CEO of a Global firm IDEO which incorporates human behavior into product design. In his interview on a show called 60 minutes, he talks empathetic design. Empathetic design is when the designer thinks about the feeling of the client he is making the product for and tries to be in his/her shows. IDEO’s concept of brainstorming ideas collectively and using each others perspective allows the invention of products which would be difficult for a single person. It would be good to keep in mind that having concepts is just the first step towards making your product.

Our class was mostly devoted to thinking of problems that our team would like to solve by coming out with “How can we” statements. The 5 problems that our team came up with were:

  • How can we get busy individuals who are working or in college to drink more water?
  • How can we create a laptop case which can fit all laptops and keep them from breaking?
  • How can we get households around the world to save energy?
  • How can we get bikers in college to wear helmets and keep their bikes safe?
  • How can we get people in working areas such as college or the workplace to keep their whiteboards clean?

When we look around us we can find so many designs and products that have been made for such specific purposes and solves them perfectly. If we think about it patiently we would know that a lot of thinking has gone into making one product. It is not just a matter of 2-3 days. Another problem that we faced was that most of the time we think of the product forst rather than the proble we face. This was one of the habits that Professor Vishal changed by asking us to think of a problem first rather than a product. As this would help us in coming up with a number of solutions to one problem rather than just one product that solves that problem. It would further help us in re-designing and making the prouct better each time.

After this we had a guest speaker, Mike Bohlmann, who was a big time maker himself and works as the assisstant dean of technology for the college of media. He was very much into making things in his own time. It was more than a passion than a job for him. The kinds of products that he made was quite innovative and interesting. In all, it was a day full of inspirations.


To learn by creating

Time to learn how to build! #Learning #CAD #Modeling #Fusion360workshop

Building things can be tough and building it on CAD software, you can imagine. It was time to get on with the whole 3-D designing, not beginners but fully advanced CAD software. Creating models on CAD is totally different from designs made on paper. There are so many things that you can do with your model. There are no limits, especially with the software that we were taught today by a highly qualified person from AutoDesk.

Before coming for the class we watched a video about how to make a part in Fusion360. This helped us all to get a hang of the software and know the basics of it. Jeffrey Smith from AutoDesk came today to give us a workshop and teach us how to use Fusion360. When he came he introduced himself to us and told us about his journey and how he ended up working at AutoDesk. His story was so inspiring, it made me realize that one should always keep trying and never give up. He then talked about the company and told us that it is located in Pier 9. After this, it was time for us to gets our hands on the software and do some building.

Learning CAD software is a meticulous job and even a tiny mistake can make the entire design go to waste. Jeff started teaching us the basics of the software. He first told us how to create a new file and where can we save files. Then he talked about the sketch tool. He first drew something with the sketch tool and then asked us to try it on our own once he was finished demonstrating it. This way we got time to examine and play with each tool. After the sketch tool, we learned how to extrude things and scale it to the size that we want it to be. This was the time when our model actually looked 3-D. There are so many ways by which you can make a model; there is no particular step. After learning to extrude we were allowed to use the purple button that is the ‘create form’ option. This tool looked so organic with all the rounded edges. My favorite tool was the assembly tool. This tool made your single part interact with other parts and one could see how it would function as a whole. This gave us a sense of step-by-step building process.

To conclude I would like to say that the workshop made me more inclined towards using this software and play with different tools. I am really looking forward to the assignment in which we have to create a product on Fusion360 that has different/separate parts to it and make then interact with each other.


Learning one day at a time

#DesignForAmerica #DesignProcess #MakersForLife

Human-centered design is a new up and coming scene in which designers put into the account of the target user and design around that basis. In order to successfully produce a new product, one has to be able to identify the problem and the user to identify the situation at hand and then solve it utilizing creative problem-solving techniques. Limitless. This word accurately depicts the nature of our class session this week, where we participated in a lab led by the UIUC chapter of Design for America. Through a series of exercises, we were exposed to the processes and mindset behind ideation from a designer’s perspective.

In order to give us a look at their design process and put us in a Design For America mindset, they facilitated a class activity in which we were handed 3 cards at random. One card gave the demographic which the product which we were designing for, the next gave what it will be used for, and the last card a constraint for out design. One of the group’s challenge was to design a way to make music for adventurous preschoolers and the constraint was that it should grow. They interpreted the constraint, “it grows”, as that the object expands. Their team came up with an expandable “laptop”, where it had 3 folds, one had a screen, the middle had buttons in different colors and shapes, and the last fold had a piano keyboard and a xylophone. The buttons would make noises when pressed and the screen can show cute characters dancing on the screen. The piano and xylophone allow the child to have a physical thing they can play with to make noise in case they do not like digital sounds.

As written on the website of Chicago Architecture Foundation, “The Design Process is an approach for breaking down a large project into manageable chunks.”

Although our workshop with Design for America had us create unrealistic products, the same concepts hold true. Before you can come up with a design, you need to have a specific population and a specific problem to solve in mind.  As you design the product, it needs to be realistic and be able to be manufactured, and it needs to be profitable.  Fortunately for us, our access to the Maker Lab and CU Fab Lab allows to rapidly design, create, and test prototypes.  Regardless, It is important for us keep desirability, viability, and feasibility in mind throughout the entire process.

Now, it was time to make the logos for the groups. Just seeing the logos printing made all of us so excited for what the future holds for us. What can we all create from nothing? There are still so many questions we need to ask ourselves before coming up with our final ideas and designs. I look forward to figuring out what the final products will be through design thinking.

If you want to know a more in-depth experience of each individual you go to the ‘Week 3’ tab.





Week 3 Reflection


 #Week3 #DesignProcess #LogoPrinting #HowCanWe

As written on the website of Chicago Architecture Foundation, “The Design Process is an approach for breaking down a large project into manageable chunks.”[1] Today was all about the design process. The ways in which one should go about in making a product. Coming from a major that is all about design, it was a good revision. For this, a club called Design For America had come to class to make us all experience and explain the distinct steps of a design process.

What’s so great about the design process? ‘We keep saying that there is no set start point for your own products design process, but the concepts and focuses of each phase are essential in helping you to build bigger, long-lasting products for the world to enjoy. Without a clear concise plan, you are only setting yourself up for a long road of setbacks and delayed products.’[2]

We were given three different cards, which had three different words on it. Each card had a different meaning depending on the color at the back of the card, namely, for whom the product was, what is the purpose of the product and a constraint. Our team had to make a product for preschoolers through which they could play music and the product should grow. This step is called defining a problem. Each team got a different problem. At first we were all puzzled on how to make a product grow but eventually, we were able to figure it out. We took a different meaning for ‘grow’ and that was the product could be expandable. Next, we were supposed to think of different ideas for the product, this process is called ideation. We had to share our ideas with the other team members.

After this, to actually delve into the whole process of design all of us were given one problem. The main focus of this product was senior citizens. We had to think of the problems that senior citizens come across and make a product that could solve one or more of these problems. In this activity, we went from ideation to actually making a low-fidelity prototype for our product. We even made a “How can we” statement. Our team’s ‘How can we’ statement was: ‘How can we get senior citizens in retirement homes to feel needed/autonomous/respected?’

This was not it! After this informed lesson we got on to making a design for our team logos and names. The name of my team is ‘Ex-nihilo’, which is a Latin word meaning ‘out of nothing’. For the logo design, we were introduced to the software called Tinker CAD which is basically a CAD software for beginners. It was fun using the software.

Printed logo Image

To conclude, it was a day full of learning, from getting to know the design process to actually designing a logo using a CAD software.


[1] “DiscoverDesign Handbook.” DiscoverDesign. Chicago Architecture Foundation, 2016. Web. 08 Feb. 2017.

[2] “ZURB.” ZURB – Product Design, Interaction Design & Design Strategy. N.p., 2017. Web. 08 Feb. 2017.