[Made in China] Presentation Reflection by Kev

Class: Made in China
Assignment (Week 3): Project Proposal Presentation Reflection

Link to the Presentation File

My original idea was to redesign an ice cube tray so I planned to focus on the shortcomings of the current products for the presentation. However, I came up with a new idea when I woke up that morning, which was a dish warmer with smartphone connectivity for controls. I quickly did some product comparisons on Amazon and included it in my presentation as well. I also redefined my business opportunity to be smarter and fancier kitchenware that targeted consumers with higher disposable income, as supported by the Allied Market Research.

To my surprise, most people found the ice cube tray idea more appealing. Some of my classmates suggested that they could use the oven to warm the dishes instead as it was very common in the US. Professor Christian also quoted the case of Juicero, which was a failed kickstarter company, to illustrate why I would want the design to be as simple as possible but not too much unnecessary functions. I believed they were right since I did not seriously consider how consumers deal with this problem using simpler methods. I might not learn this information from the web, but it would be helpful if I had talked to any of my American friends before this presentation. It was important to ensure the opportunity actually existed.

Unfortunately, someone also pointed out that there were already some solutions to the ice cube tray, such as plastic ice-cube making bags. Nonetheless, I still believed they were not common in Asia or in China and the market for a simpler ice cube tray still existed. I was also suggested to add some features to the ice cube tray, such as a temperature sensor to forecast when the ice would be made, or work on other poorly-designed kitchen appliances. Furthermore, after listening to others’ presentations, I had realized that it was hard for me to come up with an appealing design idea because I was thinking to invent something new that no one had thought about it before. It might be easier if I could just make some modifications to some existing products or build on them. I would probably use this approach to brainstorm more ideas for the rest of the week.

[Made in China] Project Proposal by Kev

Class: Made in China
Assignment (Week 2) – Project Proposal

Redesigning Ice Cube Trays

On a hot summer day, there is nothing more relaxing than enjoying a cup of iced drink, no matter it is beer or coke, under the burning sun. You may want to add a few pieces of ice, so you decided to take out the ice tray from the freezer. Nonetheless, you realize the ice has stuck closely to the tray. Therefore, you spend much effort twisting the ice tray for several times and ice finally all drops out at the same time. If you are lucky, most of the ice will fall into your cup of drink. If not, you can pick them up from the table or even the floor. This certainly annoys you because adding ice should be a simple process.

Classic Ice Cube Tray

The traditional ice tray holder is a great example of a poorly-designed product. Firstly, as the water is still in liquid state, it can easily spill over if you are not holding it properly. It is also important to ensure the ice tray lies flat in the freezer so that it won’t spill over, which takes up the limited space in the freezer. Secondly, the ice can be easily contaminated by dust or other pollutants during the freezing process because they are directly exposed to the air. Thirdly, as illustrated in the example above, it is very hard to remove the ice from the tray. Not only the finished ice might be stuck to the wall of the tray, it might also stick to the ice cube next to it, making it a larger piece than desired. If the ice does not drop out naturally, you may have to twist the tray with a little bit of force for several times to loosen it. If this still does not work, you may need to pick it up by hand, which is unhygienic and also dangerous because the surface of the ice is really cold and may hurt your fingers. Therefore, this poses a great business opportunity to redesign this ice tray.

The target market for a redesigned ice tray can be all households in the world with a freezer.  Allied Market Research estimated that the global kitchen appliances market is expected to reach $253.4 billion by 2020 with a 6.4% growth from 2014 and suggested the growth is mainly driven by “increasing disposable income”. Therefore, to be more specific, the target consumer for a “smart” kitchen design would be people with increased disposable income who are willing to pay extra for fancier or more user-friendly products.   There are few existing redesign attempts in the market, including:

 

  • OXO Good Grips Covered Ice Cube Tray”: It received a 4.4/5 consumer rating and costs $7.29 on Amazon. A cover is added to the tray to solve the second issue and to stack more ice on it, and these functions have received positive comments from the users. However, reviews also pointed out that the tray can only produce few amount of ice and the space between the cover slider and the tray may still cause spill-overs.

OXO Good Grips Covered Ice Cube Tray

  • OMorc Ice Cube Tray“: It not only has a spill-resistant cover, but also has a flexible tray that helps to “push” out the ice. However, it is slightly more expensive at $11.99 and some users still complain about the difficulties using it.

OMorc Ice Cube Tray

  • Endurance Ice Cube Tray”: It is made of stainless steel instead of plastic, and features a lever that helps to remove the ice. It is priced at $19.95, but some users complain about the mechanic failures of the product.

Endurance Ice Cube Tray

[Made in China] Journal (Week 2) by Kev

Class: Made in China
Journal (Week 2) – Bad Design in the AB

As a study-away student from New York, I am not only new to the city and the Shanghainese culture, but also to the campus. I was pretty excited when I first entered the academic building, as it seemed to be much more modern and spacious than the buildings in NY. Nonetheless, the nightmare came when I have to locate my classrooms in this 15-floor building as there are at least 20 different kinds of rooms on each floor, including classrooms, reading rooms, washroom, etc. Fortunately, NYU Shanghai has placed maps on each floor to help us navigate. However, soon after, I am frustrated by the weird design of the maps, which is not user-friendly and confusing.

Map on 2/F AB

The photo attached shows the example of the facility map located at the lift lobby on the 2nd floor. Firstly, the orientation of the building in the map is misleading and confusing. When I step out from the lift and look at this map, a well-designed map will allow me to instantly decide whether I should be turning left or right to head to my destination. After looking at this map, my intuition will tell me to keep walking without turning if my destination is 210. However, I immediately notice that I am actually facing a wall. Since I remember I stepped out from the lift and when I compare this to the map, I suddenly realize I am actually facing the right side of the map and I should be turning left for 210. But I question myself again since the map indicates that I am standing right in front of the female bathroom instead of the wall, which I later realize again its entrance is on another side. Secondly, the board is also showing “conflicting” messages since, for example, room 207-209 is shown on the right of the “your location” red dot, but the signs above the map say I should turn left instead. The design has made every viewer to reimagine the space and reposition themselves, which is inefficient and unnecessary. It may also be very confusing for guests that may not know the building well.

Nonetheless, the map does have some features that help to increase readability. For example, rooms with different functions are identified with different colours so that it is easier to locate the destination. The design is also very simple, which means it has limited words and instructions explaining how to use it, but feature simple icons that can convey the same meaning.

If I were the designer and had to improve the map, I would change the building orientation from “landscape” to “portrait” mode (e.g. the auditorium will be at the top of the graph instead of the right side) to avoid the confusion. But it may not be both aesthetically and finically desirable since new boards will have to be produced. An easier solution will be adding an arrow next to the red spot, indicating the direction I am facing.  Furthermore, I will add solid lines to indicate walls and door symbols to indicate entrances to rooms on the map. Overall, I believe the map is not necessarily a horrible design, but the designers do need to be a little bit more thoughtful to make it more user-friendly and usable.

 

Improvement for the map (Arrow and lines)

 

 

[Made in China] Crash and Burn Finale Documentation by Kev

Class: Made in China
Week 2 Class Activity – Crash and Burn Finale

This was my first IMA exercise performed in NYU Shanghai and I was instructed to assemble an MP3 player. This activity was designed to allow me to explore how individual components contribute to the overall functioning of a product. However, since I did not have a strong engineering background, I was a little bit worried and I do not how to start at first. Fortunately, my groupmates helped me to understand the design of the MP3 board and professor suggested that we should start with connecting it to the battery.

My 1st time soldering

 

I observed and practiced soldering the wires to connect the battery to the MP3 circuit board. The process was actually easier than I thought, and I was confident that I had no problem handling it myself next time.  However, once we finished soldering, we realized that we should not have done this because the player cannot be turned off as the battery was staying connected forever. We later resolved the issue by adding an extra switch to the circuit, but I believed that this had also increased connection points thus increased risks of short circuit or malfunctioning.

After we plugged in the USB cable and as well as the headphone, we were glad that the Bluetooth sign was on, meaning that the circuit worked. We were also able to connect our phone to the mp3 player via Bluetooth and played some music. However, the signal soon disappeared mysteriously and reappeared later after switching on and off for a few times. We were unsure why this happened as it was working for some time, but we guessed that the wires may not be soldered well and the battery may not have enough capacity to power the Bluetooth module for longer period of time.

Finished Product – MP3 Player

 

In conclusion, I do believe that we have completed the task successfully because we were able to make the mp3 player work as it designed to be. However, I believe that for next time, we should have better planning and a general idea of the necessary procedures in our mind before carrying out any actions to avoid making irreversible changes to the product.