Design Thinking is the New Black

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. This week the student organization Design for America taught the design process that was developed at Northwestern University and they were teaching us the process in a condensed version with a case study on senior citizens. Our team identified Alzheimer patients and their forgetfulness and developed the How Can We statement as “How can we help Alzheimer patients at home to remember daily tasks and belongings.” Our design was a bracelet that is connected to your phone and has sensors on other everyday objects so if the distance between the two sensors grows, then the bracelet would vibrate and notify you. One can also send push notifications as reminders such as caregivers to remind about medicine and the bracelet would vibrate and also get notifications on a phone.

Designing with the end users in mind allows one to identify all of the possible facets that ultimately allows the innovators to tweak and make the product or service into an even better prototype. Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, has said that she utilizes design thinking in nearly every aspect of the company’s decisions now. The user experience of a product is reexamined from the trends in women’s snacking to how she, as a mother, would view her own products on a shelf. PepsiCo has taken an initiative to curate a more robust portfolio and a more health-conscious focus as well while keeping the customers in mind. This type of forwarding design thinking has led to their steady growth versus their competitors.

Empathy with users allows a company to be able to refine their processes and products. The design-centric culture that the Harvard Business Review cites is a new movement that large organizations are utilizing to analyze complex problems and that is exactly how companies are developing new business strategies along with product innovations. Companies like GE and IBM have adopted such tactics and have noted how business strategies differ little from defining user experiences. The movement towards integrating design thinking into every aspect of companies means that it is a valuable skill to have and to be able to master. In order to continue to be innovative, there has to be constant change and to be adaptive to the changing culture of society nowadays. I believe that design thinking will empower companies and now will empower us, as students as well.

Week 2 Reflection: The Maker Movement and the Future of DIY

This week in class we were immersed into the FabLab and the unique tools and services that they offer for the local Champaign-Urbana maker community. The reading of “The Maker Mindset” stood out to me as it highlights how fast this method of manufacturing is growing and soon before you know it, there might be one in every home. The ability to be able to print anything on a whim while being able to customize it directly to your specifications is vastly different compared to previous manufacturing methods. The Wired article by Chris Anderson called, “In the Next Industrial Revolution, Atoms are the New Bits” shows how this is such a revolutionary technology that has been around since the 1980s but now is taking off and beginning to become affordable and widely used.

Jeff Ginger from the FabLab taught us about how many tools there were at our doorstep when it comes to being able to use it. The way he runs the FabLab is very interesting to me as it curates the Do-It-With-Others mentality versus the Do-It-Yourself method. Collaborating and being able to receive feedback is instrumental in being able to achieve a fine tune product or service. And the way Jeff approached it really stood out to me and how the maker movement is actually a maker community.

This week we also were put into groups based on the strengths and weaknesses of our classmates. I thought that this was extremely helpful since we are able to utilize each others’ knowledge base while also contributing our own. My group had a wide range of majors such as Information Systems and Information Technology and a Mechanical Engineer and me as Technical Systems Management and Architecture. This means that our multidisciplinary will have the leg up when it comes to implementing our product or at least have the resources to do so at our disposal. We brainstormed some ideas such as drones and tools for a GoPro, however, we did not apply the design thinking process yet and so determining the problem first would be the first. Upon determining the groups, we were taught how to utilize the Cura software and print something out on the Ultimaker machines. I choose to print out a bottle opener with DFA on it for my organization and it was extremely helpful learning how to do it on a low fidelity product first rather than jumping in with a tedious 3D printed model. ┬áSo now I am looking forward to further immersing myself into the technical side of it and being able to create my own models rather than obtaining it from thingiverse.