Alibaba provides a series of products to help its B2C/C2C platform improve click-through-rate, conversion-rate, and gross merchandise volume. Athena is one of the products that helps the marketing operations to exceed business objectives by filtering high quality merchandise based on data visualization.
In this emBODYment the toy is designed to be a human figure and users can manipulate parts of the body to see different fluid actions that relate to body functions.
My Role: UX Designer
Duration: 5 months
Client: Landscape Structure Inc
Toy Product Design is a hands-on project-based design course offered in the College of Design at the University of Minnesota. The theme was active-play playground equipment for underutilized areas on a playground.
Our team created a fluid manipulation toy for the playground. To build this educational toy, we were challenged by a lengthy product development process including determining customer needs; brainstorming; estimation; sketching; graphic design; industrial design drawing; sketch modeling; concept development; design aesthetics; detailed design; prototyping; and written, visual, and oral communication. At the end of the course, we presented the toy product prototypes at the PLAYsentations to toy designers, engineers, children and the University of Minnesota community.
IDENTIFYING THE PROBLEM
From a few workshops, we learned that PNC Bank currently offers very little in terms of engaging with their teen users. There is also the issue of teens being insufficiently financially educated, even if schools offer financial literacy courses.
Survey for Teens and Parents
Research process started by exploring playgrounds at different locations. I visited two parks and took photos and notes, then brought them back to discuss with my team members. By brainstorming and pitching ideas we focused on liquid product since there's no fluid manipulation device at any playground for now.
Managing finances is usually initiated by a trigger
Most parents do not track exactly what their teens spend on
Parents want their teens to have more financial knowledge but aren’t necessarily equipped to teach
By several rounds of brainstorming, we generated 70+ ideas and sketched them to vote. Based on
we narrowed down to top 6 ideas, and each of us designed a poster for each idea and then presented the idea to other teams, teachers, and staff from industries. The 6 ideas are:
Based on the feedback, the idea of Spinning Sandscape I presented was chosen as our initial concept, which is a tangible interface for designing and understanding landscapes through a variety of computational simulations using sand. This is for 3-5-year old children, and they can create their own work of art by spinning the frame on the swivel stand. With each turn, the sand slowly shifts to create a new scene.
The concept is inspired by a similar product in the toy market, but the playground version is more sensory. The biggest challenge is how to keep the liquid steady at low temperature.
We then did three rounds of prototypes to test and develop the concept. After every round of prototype, we would present the prototype to all the teams, teachers, and staff from industries to collect feedback and iterate idea.
First Round Sketch Model Construction
In the first round, we developed three directions:
1. Material investigation: oil; water; glitter; different kind of colored sand
2. Function investigation: magnets, water pump,
3. Motion investigation: a spinning wood circle
I worked on the function direction and tried different methods, such as magnets, water pump, etc. The result showed that the water pump works the best. After presented the prototype, the feedback we collected were
Develop the concept
Determine the material which is the biggest challenge
Explore more colors
Love the water pump function
Second Round Sketch Model Construction
In the second round, we iterated the concept based on the previous feedback.
Built two full-scale models: Colorscape and Sandman
Figured out the liquid material which allows for a low freezing point. The mixed material can withstand temperature as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit without freezing
Developed the water pump function to the "heart" pump for Sandman
Developed 7 colors for Colorscape
During this round, I worked on the Sandman with two other members. We changed the water pump to the "heart" pump.
Challenge: Just one direction for the pump is a little boring, we may need to consider adding unique "disturbance mechanism" for each panel to give more variety.
Challenge: The colored liquid didn't have as great an effect as the clear liquid with vibrant green sand.
In the final round, we successfullyg
created a human figure panel of numerous interactive faces of acrylic which contains the material we tested
Utilized multiple disruption features including air pumps, oil dripping mechanisms, and sand pictures
This toy was built to be not only unique, imaginative and educational but also practical and environmental.
What we got: 300 comments after PLAYSENTATION
Next Step: to build more with figures of animals, oceans and even outer space