Industrial Design Digital Drawing. SAiDY (Secondary AssIstive DisplaY) “smart watch”. A conceptual smart watch I drew for my IDDD class; the SAiDY is a button-less and port-less “smart watch” that communicates via Bluetooth 4.0 to an iOS or Android device to relay notifications, relative and relevant information, as well as basic playback controls and biometric info. (via a series of conductors imbedded in the silicone wrist band). The device charges via Inductive Charging and is activated/deactivated when the user makes physical contact with the wrist band and/or device (motion sensors behind the glass detect the movement of a sleeve or arm as well as appropriately placed eye location; conductors in the wristband detect a user’s hear rate, body temperature and perspiration levels).
The body is composed out of an Aluminium monocoque that is machined from a pre-curved substrate. This is to ensure the least amount of material is wasted in the machining process (Aluminium scarps can be re-melted and put back into succeeding substrates). The colored details that run along the device are part of the monocoque; they are rendered by first coating the monocoque with wax in all areas except for the sidewalls, where the dye is intended to reside. After the monocoque is presented with the dye, the wax is removed (and recycled for further use) enabling the two colored sidewalls amongst the anodized Aluminium.
The top is composed of a single piece of synthetic sapphire crystal and contains a highly-calibrated capacitive digitizer. The display is an IPS LED display, composed on a flexible PCB to allow the display to mimmic the slight curve of the user’s wrist and the overall form of the device. A customized lithium-polymer battery sits immediately below the display and adjacent to a logic board (consisting of an ARM SoC microprocessor, power and wireless controllers, data storage, and display and digitizer controllers).
Theoretically, the band is attached to only one end of the unit permanently and removable from the opposing (not shown due to loss of renderings). This enables the application of a flexible but stable wrist band with hard-wired features. The silicone and anodized Aluminium siding on the unit are rendered in 5 colors to offer a sense of personalization for the user. Desired (End-User) Cost: 250.00 USD Estimated (Manufacturing) Cost: 135.32-167.40 USD November—December, 2013. Andrew Balboni.
Sophomore ID Form. Tile Project. Assignment: create a form that can be repeated several times, but in a manner that creates a completely different and separate shape. My response is an aerospace-inspared form with a fixed center point, surrounded by three sides. White bristol board, black 1/4-inch foam core, blue graphite, glue. August, 2013. Andrew Balboni.
Sophomore ID Form. Plane Project. Assignment: using paper, construct a 3D analysis of a specific point of a modern automobile. My response is a focus of the front passenger’s side hood and shoulder of the 2015 BMW i8. October, 2013. Andrew Balboni.
Sophomore ID Form. Tensile Project. Assignment: create a form that is composed of a wire-based frame and skin-like shell. My response is a door or window overhang, composed out of an Aluminium skeliton and Tyvek plastic fabric. The collapsable design enables the overhang to be reduced to extended, as needed. September, 2013. Andrew Balboni.
Sophomore ID Studio 1. Faucet Project. Se7en and Fi5e Faucets. November/December, 2013. Andrew Balboni.
Faucets are often times outlets of expression for designers; a medium used to create an expressive and romanticized form that adorns a flat counter top. Personally, because a faucet has something of an important job (especially in a bathroom), designing a faucet by placing the form in front of the function in a list of priorities is kind of stupid. Or at least narrow-minded.
Faucets with cylindrical spouts and/or 4-pointed valve handles (think of the classic farmer’s kitchen sink) were cylindrical because it allowed a user to not only wash their hands and produce, but fill buckets and pots. (Cylindrical faucets were also easier to produce because round pipes and fittings were already being mass-produced.) In a bathroom, however, most often a faucet is used just to wash one’s hands. So why do bathroom faucets have to imitate the design of kitchen faucets when kitchen faucets are used for more then washing one’s hands?
Flat faucet spouts are becoming a design trend amongst Kohler and Delta for more then just design’s sake. With proper engineering and water flow, a flat-headed faucet can use less water then a cylindrical faucet head, but increase the water pressure over a wider dispersal area. So instead of concentrating the water stream to the center of the sink (and in most cases, right over the drain; waste water quicker), the water is spread out in a waterfall-like pattern so a user can cover both their hands with water instead of just one at a time.
The Se7en (Seven) faucet is designed around its function and those who intend to use it; a bathroom fixture for washing hands. While most faucets have a multi-piece body consisting of hidden brass hardware and exterior covers, the head of the Se7en faucet is a single piece of extruded Aluminium. Within the head is where the mixing of streams (hot and cold water) and water pressure increase occurs; the head is extruded through a mold with a bore in the center to create a tapered internal structure. This taper continues throughout the head, raising the water preasure to a comfortable and effective level.
The handles are also extruded but are formed by a mold without a bore, keeping the handles solid. The base is formed by CNC’ing a block of Aluminium. All Aluminium components are dipped in a series of chemical baths to both seal and polish the Aluminium. Depending on the customer’s preference, the Aluminium pieces can also be Chrome or Nickel plated.
Sophomore ID Studio 1. Moccasins Project (experience a day with a disability). November, 2013. Andrew Balboni.
Ignorantly, I assumed that life without one or both of the Pollex digits—or Thumbs—was not too different from a life with complete dexterity. My punishment for being so ignorant was dropping various products at Wegman’s (repeatedly) in an effort to relate to my disabled fellow human. Dexterity, in general, is vital to the survival of a person in the modern world. Every day, we are presented with switches, knobs leavers, and pulls that, in order to proceed with our day, we must interact with and overcome. If an individual has a complication with their dexterity that limits its use either temporarily or permanently, that individual’s way of life is severely inconvenienced. Even the modern workforce, be it a desk job on the fifth floor or fitting a headlight on an assembly line, is impossible to participate in if an individual has compromised dexterity. Surviving in the modern world with inadequate dexterity is incredibly difficult and debilitating due to an individual’s inability to successfully interact with the various elements that populate their world.
Advanced dexterity is one of the many features that defines a sentient and developed human being. Our ability to pick things up and put them down may seem trivial, but its severity is understood (like so many things) in its absence. Be it a missing Pollex Digit, Huntington’s Disease, complications with age, or irreversible neurological damage, dexterity can be hard to come by for some. Yet, it is a prerequisite for everything we do. Opening doors, picking up an object, making coffee, driving, and (in a modern context) digital communication all require control and use of one’s Pollex digits and hand-eye coordination. Products that are design to either require little dexterity or none at all tend to come with caveats ranging from the end-user cost, the ascetic design, overall build quality, functionality, or all of the above. And in a world where we can in seconds know the exact date Louis The XIV’s life ended, how can products that are intended to make like easier lack coherent design?; why are they even sold if their design is not functional?
Products like OXO’s “Good Grips” are great examples of the type of thinking that needs to surround a product for today (and tomorrow). Though, arguably, some of their products are only addressing the actual action of gripping the product, not interfacing with it; as its name implies, they’re “good” grips, they’re not “great”. Snide comments aside, there are other current products that have a wider gamut of potential users.
Walter Gropius has gathered great fame in his door handle designs; echoing the principles and ethics of The Bauhaus in both form and function. After the second World War had come to a close, an increased amount of amputee victims began complaining about their inability to open most doors (a personal side note; I find it disrespectful to design a world where the people who put their lives on the line for said world are incapable of living in it comfortably). Door handles, unlike their colleague the door knob, preform the same task as a conventional knob. However, handles direct the force a user donates to it downward and away from the user. In contrast, door knobs require a clockwise turing action—which requires an adequate 5-point grip—to then release the door. Handles are better suited for the job at hand (no pun intended) because they require a less-intensive amount of dexterity over door knobs.
In an effort to connect with my fellow disabled human, I disabled both my Pollex digits for a day (errand day; cooking, grocery shopping, pumping gas, etc.) by taping the digits to their respectable index digits. Though a crude method, it was effective in reducing my overall dexterity. Initially I planed to do the exercise alone , but after trying to take pictures of myself with my phone for documentation, I enlisted the help of my friend Rob. His personal response after the exercise was that he “didn’t mind” assisting me with almost everything I did, but it “was inconvenient at times, sometimes because of the building itself or because of the task”.
The first activity in the queue was to get in my car and drive to a gas station, as I was on a quarter of a tank. Initially, I believed driving would be too difficult with limited dexterity. I was surprised to find that the design and shape of the steering wheel compensates for a lack of dexterity. Though, that’s where the surprises stopped; various controls on the steering wheel, ranging from buttons facing the driver to stock and column controls, were tedious and cumbersome to use. Some buttons were too out-of-reach for me to safely use while driving, so the task I intended to complete was sometimes abandoned.
When it came time to pump gas, the struggle began before I even pushed a button. I keep my wallet in my back left pocket (which, relative to this exercise, may not have been the best place for it) and when I tried to take it out and use my card, I dropped not the wallet, but all of its contents. After Rob helped me pick up my life in plastic, I had been at the gas station for thee or four minutes. When I had my card in hand and began interfacing with the gas pump, most of the operations could be preformed with my index finger or the butt of my fist. Picking up and holding the nozzle was also challenging; the design of the nozzle requires the user to have a firm and controlling 5-point grip on the body, so the trigger to enable the flow of gasoline can be continuously pulled by the Index digit. This required both hands and some intervention from Rob. Compared to the five or six minutes it usually takes me, it took me fifteen minutes (from when I got out of my car, to my departure of the gas station) to fill my car’s tank 3/4th the way.
Next came Wegman’s. The items I had to buy ranged (relative to packaging) in both size, texture and shape. The positioning and layout of the products also impacted my ability to pick them up and place them in my cart (a basket was impossible after three or four items). Boxes that were positioned in an echelon-like fashion were the easiest, while cylindrical containers (yogurt, pasta sauce, etc.) positioned similarly were uncooperative and difficult to grab on to. Picking up bread was also interesting; Wegman’s puts the brand of bread I buy on the bottom shelf of the bread section (side note, it is not a Wegman’s-brand bread and it is positioned below the bread that is Wegman’s-brand bread), so picking a loaf up required me to kneel down—another cumbersome task with limited dexterity— and use both hands to grip the sides, as to not damage the loaf’s fluffy goodness.
I also frequently eat Cliff Bars (something that provides substantial nutritional value but can be held in the hand very easily), and Wegman’s manner of presentation is pretty shiftless; the bars come in a box of fifteen but are also available for individual sale. Wegman’s simply opens a box’s top side and places it on a shelf, at an angle, with ten or twelve similar boxes, with low clearance from the upper shelf. Reaching into the boxes and pulling out one bar was akin to pulling a fist full of pickles out of a jar; I repeatedly dropped the bars, either on the floor or back in the box. Rob eventually stepped in (I picked up three bars, he picked up six or seven).
Checkout was just as cumbersome as the entire experience. After the gas station, I put my wallet in my sweatshirt pocket for easier access, but that didn’t change the manner in which I had to authorize my payment. I had to sign for the groceries on the payment terminal with a stylus, and eventually scribbled a very crude “A” onto the display. In the end, a Wegman’s run that would have taken me 35-45 minutes lasted well over an hour. (The photos to the right depict the two minute process of connecting both point of my jacket’s zipper.)
After personal experience and extensive research into products and services design to make life easier for the dextrally challenged, it is clear that only a select few products are actually accomplishing that design task. In the exercise, I interacted with hundreds of different objects and only a steering wheel, shopping cart handle, a few kitchen tools and a smartphone (surprisingly, iPhones with Accessibility Options enabled are easier to use then the “dumb” phones of yesteryear) I found relatively compatible with my temporary disability. Considering I personally know three people who have missing digits (as in not just the Pollex(es)), products that are design indiscriminately are too discriminative to be considered completely “functional” in any sense of the word. Designers need to think more about the act of interfacing with products, not just in its context, but in the relationship the user has to form with the product in order to use it correctly.