IDEO Designers Talk Wearable Tech

Earlier in the month, Zoe Schlacter 17 FS (far left in the photo below) adjusted her round glasses before making tweaks to a fashionable shoe designed for a very specific client. “I’m creating a prototype of a sneaker for a young, homeless woman who lives in San Francisco,” explains the Foundation student while cutting out pieces of cardboard. “The sole of the shoe includes a hidden compartment for her to conceal money and valuable objects.”

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Schlacter created the prototype in one of Brown’s labs during From the Bottom of My Fuel Cell, a full-day workshop hosted by members of the RISD STEAM group. There, Brown and RISD students divided into teams to create wearable devices meant to enhance the lives of fictional characters. After looking at rough sketches of their contraptions, designers from IDEO, an innovative consulting firm that specializes in product and brand development, offered students some welcomed advice.

Bill Stewart MID 96, an industrial designer who makes medical devices, encouraged the young inventors to make iterations of their prototypes in rapid succession. After inspecting a battery-powered device (shown below) that allows kitchen workers to receive a physical “shock” when someone is near, he pushed students to test out the technology as soon as possible. “It helps to see your product in 3D,” he explains. “You can find problems faster – and fix them.”

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Brown students Mark St. Louis and Atty Eleti try out a wearable device they designed using Arduino, an open-source electronics platform.

Later in the afternoon, Stewart and Prat Ganapathy hosted a lecture in the Chace Center auditorium that explained the process they use when designing surgical tools. “We never throw out any of the ideas we generate during brainstorming sessions,” he notes. “You never know when they might come in handy.”

Learn more about the workshop at the RISD STEAM group’s site.

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