Waiting for a project.

September 4, 2008

Today, it seems, is one of those days. I don’t have anything to do. No homework for any class (except Design Research Methods, for which I have yet to be motivated to go work on), and lots of time to do nothing. As such, I can’t help but get that annoyed feel that I don’t have anything to do, since I know that if you give me a week, I’ll be back to staying up all night for nights in a row. If we could spread that out a tad, that’d be great.

On the other hand, I’m getting to do all sorts of stuff I would usually consider ‘goofing off’, or such. Yesterday and today, I’ve been working on a little project – I’m working on a design for a clock. I was actually had my original idea before class started, so this is pre-seniors-working on clocks, but it should be pretty cool. My current goal is a completely custom clock – I’m working on making oversized gears and mechanics that I can cut out on the laser cutter and bandsaw. I’m hoping to emphasize them in the design – they really are the most interesting part of a clock, so why hide them all behind a face? I’m thinking of meshing it with the style of my Lamp from last year – I think the simplistic style + emphasis on angles will work pretty well. That, of course, may change as the project goes on.

First step on that, although I’ve done some initial sketching, I feel I need an idea of what sort of space to allocate to mechanics at this scale – so my current plan is to cut a set of gears and get a working prototype, so I can then design some around it. Its probably a bit more towards the engineering side of things, but since I don’t have an engineer working on this with me, its pretty much my job. Good thing clocks are relatively simple, right?

I’m also doing some prelim work on a sketching ideation tool for my website – just a simple random item generator to solve the problem of “what should I sketch?”. Thats kinda boring, but it helps with stuff.


Studio-wise, we went on a field trip yesterday – and can now say I have a good idea of what it looks like when computer scientists try to get into product design by throwing every cool trick they know in one pile of technology. You get ‘high tech’ ways of tracking grandma’s activity in her house through cameras mounted in her ceiling, which, when you boil it down, consists of breaking up the video feed into pictures and doing some programming at the level of what is taught in CS1315 to everyone at Tech. I mean really, I’ve done more complex programming in my spare time. And to top it off, everything was rife with assumptions as to “oh yeah, that would just work”, or “we haven’t gotten to that part yet…”, or “If you don’t tell old people its a computer, just say its a tool, and they’d be fine!”. I mean, really. The only thing that approached to a complete concept was the computer console that was meant to help someone use a complex technology device, but I’m still not convinced it would be a commercially viable design. Not only did they assume every manufacturer would comply with a single standard to let them interface with the device, but each manufacturer would have to make a complete instruction set for each of their devices, for something that really boiled down to nothing more than a bigger display screen for a glucometer. If a manufacturer was to put that much effort into something, wouldn’t it just be one hell of a lot easier to make the thing better designed in the first place?

All the other things pretty much boiled down to a video camera and a researcher sitting in a backroom simulating a $1000 device that would save you $10 in messed up cookies. All while looking creepy. Throw in that you’d pretty much have to have the kitchen designed around the thing to keep it from looking akward…

To summarize, the whole thing gets a resounding ‘meh’. congratulations, you’re a big waste of money. That said, I do see what they’re trying to do – I just don’t think looking to high (scary) technology is the way to address the problem. Old people don’t like video screens, cameras in the roof, etc, anything that looks like a computer. At least, not this generation. That’ll work in 40 years when my generation is retiring. I’m all for having a robot help me cook. And/or help me blow things up. Who said you have to get boring when you retire?



One comment

  1. read up on project two ( attached in email ) get to the research, or keep working on yer clock!

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