You know you’ve had it. The moment when an object breaks or doesn’t do what you want it to and you think to yourself, “I could make this better for myself….or the world! (cue ominous laughter).” But no, really: you can.
In this month’s challenge, we want you to invent a product that makes a difference in someone else’s life then film a video telling us why it makes a difference. It can help a friend learn morse code or shield them from audio pollution. You can design a memory alarm for medication (or ramen) or a bionic arm.
To complete this mission, you will be taking on the role of product designer. You can think of product designers as the invisible hands that help shape our lives. Here’s an example: Pick up your phone or stand up and examine your chair. How do you hold it or sit in it? Do you enjoy using it? Is it uncomfortable? How could you make it better?
These are the questions product designers ask themselves regularly as professional problem solvers. They often follow a design process in their work: brainstorm and create, play and test to determine what works, remix to find better solutions, then share it with the world. We call this the Invention Cycle and it’s a great way to get started on this challenge!
HOW IT WORKS
We recommend using the Invention Cycle to complete this challenge. Don’t forget to check out our Pro Tips as well!
- CREATE. Start by thinking about where there are frustrations or difficulties in someone’s life. Look through your Bits and materials to see how they can help. Come up with a list of ideas for a product, select the issue you want to work on, and make a prototype. Next, sketch out ideas, then pick your favorite, and create a prototype.
- PLAY. Test your prototype. The first product tester will be you. Pretend you are a customer who just purchased your invention. How well does it do its job? Take notes about what works and what doesn’t. You can make changes in the next version.
REMIX. Did playing with your invention go the way you expected? Now’s your chance to experiment with fixes and improvements. Could adding a new Bit add important features? Would craft materials make it stronger or give it a new look?
- Try to have another person test it after making changes. If possible, try to find the type of person you’re designing it for. Ask about their favorite parts, and what suggestions they have for making it better. Use their feedback to create an even better version of your invention.
- SHARE. Film a video featuring your invention! It should explain what your invention is and how it can help make life better for the person you created it for. Submit it to the Invent Page by March 31 at midnight using #Inventforgood.
Holly Cohen is an occupational therapist that specializes in assistive technology. She is the co-founder of DIYAbility, an organization that believes that people with and without disabilities can be empowered when using the correct technology. Holly is an adjunct professor at NYU’s School of Steinhardt in the Department of Occupational Therapy. She has lectured nationally at conferences, discussing the benefits of assistive technology for individuals with disabilities.
Johnny Long, otherwise known as “j0hnny” or “j0hnnyhax”, is a renowned computer security expert, author, and public speaker in the United States. After a career as a professional hacker, Johnny now spends his time in Uganda, East Africa running Hackers For Charity, a non-profit dedicated to providing technology training and support to the worlds most marginalized citizens. Johnny is a littleBits Chapter leader in Jinja, Uganda.
Kenneth Shinozuka, 17, is a senior at Horace Mann School in Bronx, NY. He is an inventor, researcher, and entrepreneur whose SafeWander™ Button Sensor will be released in the market on November 11, 2015. Easily and securely attached to a loved one’s clothes, the Button sends an alert to caregivers’ iPhones, iPads, or iPod Touches as soon as they get up from bed, no matter how far away they are. His new SafeWander™ Button is applicable to everyone, including those who do not wear socks to sleep. SafeWander™ empowers caregivers to monitor not only wanderers but also individuals at risk of falling. An earlier sock-based version of his invention was one of the winning projects in the Google Science Fair and was exhibited at the White House Science Fair, among many other accolades. He has spoken about his sensors at TEDYouth, the Royal Society of Medicine, and other prestigious conferences.
In addition to creating healthcare innovations, Kenneth is an Eagle Scout committed to community service and an avid public forum debater passionate about global current affairs. A film buff, he serves as the Editor in Chief of his school’s film magazine.