Assignment 4: Concept Sketches, Target Specifications and Patent Review

Concept Generation

For this assignment, I’m building off of my proposal, which was an updated, more user-friendly air pollution mask. The approach I took to this design was one that Christian recommended, if it’s a problem for you, at least you have one potential user: yourself. Every time I wear an air pollution mask I think about how much I wish there was something better for me to use. Because I haven’t seen very many improvements on the product, I thought that I was the only one that cared enough about the issues that arise when wearing an air pollution mask.

One day in class we were discussion air pollution and potential solutions. A classmate remarked: aren’t the masks good enough? I countered by saying that there was a lot of room for improvement and another backed me up, specifically in regard to the issue of them rubbing off makeup. This exchange made me realise that the issues weren’t just my own issues, they must have been problems that everyone faced. To develop this product, I thought about all the issues I had when wearing a mask:

  1. Not aesthetically appealing (I kind of want to look like a Japanese delinquent teenager)
  2. Strenuous exercise (i.e. biking causes glasses to fog up)
  3. Makeup rubs off when wearing
  4. Single/few use

Alternative Concepts

A mask that covers the ugly mask

This mask would be something like a surgical mask, but with an interesting design and could cover an ugly, but effective mask. The patterns could be streetwear inspired.

  • Ugly mask

This mask focuses on the practical usages for the mask, less fog when exercise, reusable, and doesn’t rub off as much makeup. This is accomplished by switching the material of which the mask is made. I’ve heard that a cotton handkerchief can be used to blot makeup without taking it off, so this is where I would start with the material to use. Less fog escaping the mask would have to be solved by the material of the mask or by modifying the vents on the actual mask.

  • Sleek mask

My ideal, Japanese inspired mask, right material, minimalist design, replaceable filter, and embroidery on the design. This would also be streetwear-inspired, and probably look similar to the Nikka mask that is in my presentation to create a proper seal around the nose and mouth area. This mask will probably not be able to reduce the breath escaping and fogging up glasses.

  • Scarf

The scarf is a departure from the mask idea for the most part. The air filtering qualities of the mask would probably be reduced, but in its place would be less steam escaping and a much more fashionable mask. It would use replaceable filters and a fan to help circulate air.

  • Bike with filter

This idea comes from the designer Daan Roosegaarde and his partnership with ofo. A bike is fitted with a filter that filters polluted air, then blows clean air towards the rider. There is nothing more known about this project other than a diagram they created about the flow of air, so it seems they’re still figuring it out. Like the scarf, this filter cannot filter as much air as a mask would, but is functional for exercise, doesn’t rub off makeup, and is not an unattractive article of clothing. It’s also reusable.

HW4: Concept Sketches, Target Specifications and Patent Review (Amy and Mari)

Steps of concept generation: 

  1. Shared problems we had observed on a daily basis:
    • Amy: No place for workout shoes in the backpack
    • Mari: The hassle of bringing clothes & detergents & other items to the laundry
  2. Based on these observations, we identified a common factor: many of the existing bags are fixed and limited in terms of their usage, and always seem to pose problems to their users in different situations (eg: laundry bags – heaviness, lack of handles, weight imbalance, etc.)
  3. Specified possible target groups, such as students, people with disabilities, and travelers

Target specifications:

  1. Allows for balanced weight distribution
  2. Safe compartments for valuables
  3. Various compartments for different objects (ie: glasses, water bottles, and shoes)

Optional additional needs:

  1. Aesthetically pleasing
  2. Lightweight


  1. Versatile Backpack
    • External backpack: simple “base” design that allows multiple compartments to be attached
    • CN:
      • Adjustable to any situation – add or detach compartments according to specific occasions
    • CN/N:
      • Is not necessarily meant for an even distribution of weight

Sample image of our concept for the versatile backpack

2. Attachable bag (eg. shoe bag)

  • Can be used independently or in addition to a bag
  • Has coupling links on either side to ensure safe and balanced attachment
  • Water resistant
  • CN:
    • Gets rid of additional bags
    • Lightweight and easy to assemble
  • CN/N:
    • Aesthetics of the original bag might be compromised

3. Back-and-front bag

  • Distributes weight both to the front and the back
  • CN:
    • A more efficient means of weight distribution (for people with mobility difficulties, people who carry heavy loads)
  • CN/N:
    • Aesthetics compromised
    • Not suitable for all occasions or casual use, only for heavy loads

4. Suitcase style backpack

  • Internal backpack: bag divided into top and bottom sections with different openings for each one
  • Top section: open from the top, meant for heavier items and items that want to be separated (shampoo bottles, makeup, medicine, laptop charger, etc.)
  • Bottom section: opens from the side, meant for bulkier items
  • CN:
  • CN/N:
    • Not suitable for all occasions or casual use, as it is meant for travelers

5. Thief-proof strap

  • Compartment that can be attached to backpack straps instead of being a separate belt
  • Fit  for small valuable goods (phone, passport, cash)
  • CN:
    • Safe and comfortable way of carrying valuables
  • CN/N:
    • Doesn’t contribute to weight distribution
    • Aesthetics compromised

Patent review:

Reference for patents:

  1. A45C 7/00: Patent for “Collapsible or extensible purses, luggage, bags, or the like
    • This section specifies the properties that are included in the patent for collapsible or extensible bags. Eg: items that “comprise a plurality of separable elements which can be used independently of one another” or “convertible into an open planar surface”. However, it does not address any items that independently do not necessarily serve a purpose and instead re purpose an original bag. (As is the case in concept #1)
  2. A45C 9/00: Patent for “Luggage or bags convertible into objects for other use”
    • This section describes products that can be converted into other objects, such as sacks or packs that can be converted into a seat, a vehicle, or into other hand or travelling articles. Most of our concepts include items that are detachable and would not be entirely useful on their own. As such, this patent does not necessarily negate them.
  3. A45C 13/10: Patent for “Details;Accessories” includes a section on the “Arrangement of Fasteners”
    • This patent describes the specific fasteners that are patented, such as those of hook and loop type, magnetic fasteners, with a snap action, or with chains or bands.
  4. Additional patents with illustrations:
    • Backpack cooler (Patent No. 4,673,117)

  • Backpack insulator (Patent No. 3,144,014)