April 27, 2011

Design for X

'Kung Fu Panda' was a nice movie to watch. Do you remember the scene when Shifu says,'When you focus on kung fu, when you concentrate... you stink'. Maybe it was funny in the movie, but the sad part is that many designers and even organizations fail to focus on the 'value' when they design products.

Was it really long when you thought, "I wish this were designed in a better way"? Bad designs are often products of losing focus on the main problem that the product is designed for. This is the real 'value' of the product. A simple example is that, a pen should write reasonably well under regular conditions. But some designers focus on other things, like giving it an 'unusual' shape and this too to the extent that it becomes next to impossible to write comfortably with it! So essentially a product should perform a single main function (in this case, writing) and a few auxiliary functions (in this case, comfortable gripping while writing, easy to manufacture are a reasonable price in large numbers, etc). So the main function is the single focus of designing. This is called 'Design for X'.
Design for X is a systematic and structured approach to design a product with some a single tangible objective and several second level objectives. It helps mitigate several factors that affect these objectives.

A simplified guideline for designing for X:
  1. Define 'X'
  2. Try to determine as many factors as possible that affect the 'X'
  3. Make a detailed table (or a diagram) to find out the 'level' of each factor. For the sake of simplicity, you may consider only three levels, like level 1 if 'highly affected', level 2 if moderately and level 3 if slightly affected
  4. Make an 'objective statement' for each of these factors, keeping the 'X' in mind
  5. At the end of the process you will have a 'Design Guideline' document with you for the particular product. This will be your guideline for generating concepts.
  6. Now you may use any creativity techniques to design the product for X. You may need to tweak around so that the idea fits into the secondary objectives too.

Quick example:
There are just too many pens that write smoothly (that's a requirement!) Let us design the pen that is quick to open!
Define X : To design a ball point pen that is quick to open
Factors affecting opening time : Ease of grip on the pen , friction between the parts, force required to open the pen, travel of the part for opening, shape of the pen, method of opening of the pen
Factors influence on design
Level 1 : force required to open the pen, travel of the part for opening, method of opening of the pen
Level 2 : Ease of grip on the pen, friction between the parts
Level 3 : shape of the pen
Design Guidelines for a pen that is quick to open:
Level 1 : Design a mechanism for the pen that will have less distance of travel of the moving part and has less operating force
Level 2 : 1. Design the pen body using ergonomic criteria for ease of gripping for selected population.
             2. Choose the materials that will have less relative friction
Level 3 : Design the geometry of pen so that it will assist in opening
Concept 1 : A gravity operated pen.
Pen is held close till it is in the pocket and when you pull it out of pocket the weight of the refill opens it and a mechanism holds it open. The locking mechanism is disengage when it is kept back.
Level 2 & 3 : See the figure below:
Concept 2 : A ball pen with clip as opening mechanism.
Pen is normally held in pocket by the shirt clip. When you pull this pen out, it will actuate the refill to come out. When you are putting it back, the clip is automatically operated again and the refill is pushed back in
Level 2 & 3 : See the figure below:
Concept 3 : A pen that will open when it is about to start writing
The pen will have an actuating mechanism just below its tip. When the tip is touched on the paper, the mechanism will pull the nib out. In order to store the pen back safely, a small plunger at the back can be pulled, so the refill is in normal storing position.
Level 2 & 3 : See the figure below:

11 comments:

Bagad Baba bole.....!! said...

cant see the images prasanna..!!

Arunava said...

Prasanna,
It will be "when you focus on kung fu...you STINK!", and not suck...

Arunava said...

Prasanna,
It will be "when you focus on kung fu...you STINK!", and not suck...

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

thanks, i corrected it :)

prachi patil said...

but how r we supposed to present our solution in paper...since showing some motor mechanism or sensors etc becomes difficult to illustrate

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Hello Prachi,
Actually i wrote this post as a general design thinking and not specifically to CEED exam. Yet, you can show motor or sensors, if it is really an important part of the solution you are proposing. You can include just simple cylinders or parallelopiped, if you feel you should show it, but its too detailed to sketch completely. I feel you need to use different methods to communicate your concept in the best way you can :)
Enjoy

prachi patil said...

thank you sir...:)

Somya Jain said...

hey it is not showing images

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Hi Somya,
Thanks a lot for pointing out
Looks like there is some problem with image server. Will sort it out

Neha AB said...

Could you suggest some books for Interaction design & portfolio Samples ?

Prasanna Gadkari (M.Des in Product Design from I.I.Sc. ) said...

Hi Neha,
If you visit IITB IxD website, they have given some reference books http://www.idc.iitb.ac.in/academics/Interaction-design-course-content.htm
but i believe them to be mainly for MDes student and you may not find much use for them.
For seeing some professional portfolio, you can visit coroflot.com
You will see lots of portfolios and you can understand the application of interaction design from them.
All the best :)

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