Category Archives: Dominic Napoleon

Group 6: TheOne Ring (Smart Ring)


Design Documentation


Throughout our brainstorming and development of our system, we have had many changes. Starting from the very first week of idea development, our first idea was to develop TreeBot, an autonomous robot that would plant and maximize tree growth in a world where deforestation has begun to create serious environmental effects. After further discussion among ourselves, we decided that this idea would be very difficult to implement, and we had to brainstorm new ideas. We had a thorough list of cool futuristic ideas, ranging from Super-bugs too Artificial intelligence. In the end, we all came to a consensus to work with an imagine reality where advanced genetic modification was commonplace among the wealthy, and our system would be a physical augmentation device that could be afforded by the non-elite.

The next step was to decide on an actual device and system that we could prototype for our project. We looked at possible genetic modifications that could be mimicked in a simpler form. The idea was that in the future, people would have cybernetic implants that allowed “telepathic” communication between the wealthy who could afford these implants. This idea stuck with us, because designing a system that would mimic that sort of technology would be a fun project to pursue, and we had good ideas for our prototype. At first we thought of creating a braille glove that would send messages to other glove users through a braille language system. We also added aspects to our world that using phones were frowned upon by the upper class, and therefore using your phone to communicate was not an option for the lower class who could not afford the implants. Our next step was to do field work on our system.

After online research and interviews, we found that we got a lot of constructive criticism from other people’s thoughts on our idea. Some examples were that the Braille language would be hard to learn, our glove wasn’t discrete and people would know if you were using a device, the world was a little hard to understand, and how the receiving end of our messages would work. Our group then narrowed our idea to a gesture ring that would have similar functions, but lean more toward the functions of an actual phone. This led up to our current idea of our prototype.

World Description

In a world where the use of cellphones while in motion has been outlawed, the upper class can afford cybernetic implants that allow them to use phone functions through their mind. The less fortunate however cannot afford these implants, and don’t have a way to access functions on their phones in public while moving. To resist this world, we have designed a small gesture ring system, that will be affordable and allows users to access the functions on their phones, without breaking the law.



After deciding conceptually what our final project would look like and how it would function, we brainstormed what hardware components we could physically use to represent this device in our world as closely as possible.

We considered various mini computer and hobby micro controllers like a Raspberry Pi or an Arduino. Ultimately, we decided the most important goal in bringing this device to life was to make the pieces as small as possible. So we dug deeper and decided the Flora line of wearable circuit boards would be excellent for this project since the emphasis in their design is minimalism. We ended up using these three Flora components to demonstrate the device:

Flora v2 -The “brain” of the ring. We used it to collect the data from the accelerometer and pass that data onto the bluetooth module which then passes that data wirelessly to our Android App (more on that below).

Flora Bluetooth – This is how the ring device sends data to other devices. For the purposes of this prototype, it sends gesture signals to an Android app.

Flora Accelerometer – The accelerometer acts as the main and most essential hardware component for this ring device since it detects motion.

The following lists off everything we purchased to assemble our prototype:

Parts List:

Prototype Sketch


In the above image, we essentially decided we would use an armband to hold the battery, Flora, and Bluetooth all securely in one place. The accelerometer is attached to a ring base with wires connecting it to the Flora for processing the accelerometer values.

Below are some photos of the prototype as we put the pieces together.

The images above show the Flora board we used. The left image shows the top side while the right shows the underside. Notice the bluetooth module is soldered directly onto the backside of the Flora. We decided this would save us the most amount of space as possible in our final prototype design.

This next set of images shows the accelerometer. The first two images show how the wires were organized. We wanted to keep the length of the individual wires uniform so we applied dots of hot glue to the backside of the wiring to keep them together. In the third photo, we wrapped the wire in a long strip of white electric tape. This helped us keep the final prototype design as clean as possible.


We also decided to wrap the accelerometer in red electric tape to conceal the appearance of the accelerometer and then hot glue it to the base of a ring pop ring. We believed this would keep the wearers of the device from actively thinking about the circuit boards they are wearing.

These images show the final design. The first image shows an overview of the prototype. It looks like a ring attached by wire to a box with an arm strap. The second image reveals the contents of the box. It holds the Flora, bluetooth module (soldered behind the Flora) and the battery pack powering the device.



Sightless UI (Blind user inspiration): During the decision process of our prototype, we had discussed similar real-world applications that could be used for a gesture ring. What came up during our research was the lack of technology for the blind. There were a few articles illustrating how modern smartphones are made as a visual tool, with a touch screen that can only be used by people who can actually see it. These smartphones are usually adapted for blind persons through screen reading software. While this works, it’s not entirely ideal for blind users. We found that technology for the blind consists of the use of touch or sound.

We also thought of some non screen based technology and UIs that perhaps weren’t intentionally designed for blind individuals but would work very well for them regardless. One great example is the iPod shuffle or any iPod with a UI designed for navigation via click wheel. These kinds of devices were and still are much more easy to navigate without a screen than today’s touch based smartphones because the UI feedback was either haptic (pressing physical buttons) or auditory (clicking sound while dragging finger around click wheel circle). We used this as inspiration to design an audio feedback based user interface that would respond to finger/ring gestures.

Android: For the software component of our prototype, our group decided on developing an android app that would hold a few phone functions that we wanted to control by our ring. We decided Android would be the best decision because we all had experience writing code in Java and some experience with android UI development.

We decided that the main features we wanted to implement were weather, music, and text messages. The first step was to setup the UI so that we knew what specific “button” functions we wanted. There was one main UI with buttons for playing, pausing, next, and previous songs, reading weather, and reading text messages. We wanted to implement access to the phone’s actual music library, text message, and a weather applications information, but decided that creating static fields for each functionality was viable for the purpose of our prototype.

To make the UI our prototype system more appropriate for how we intend it to be used, we switched the UI layout to match our rings actual gesture controls. To do so, we converted the layout into 4 arrows representing the cardinal directions that our ring gestures would understand. From there we made sure to implement what each direction would day according to our previous methods. Here is a look at the gestures of our ring:

  • Up:
    • Cycle through the menu’s of our app. Music -> Weather -> Text Messages
  • Right:
    • Music: Play next song
    • Weather: Read tomorrow’s weather
    • Texts: Read next text message
  • Down:
    • Music: Play/Pause song
    • Weather: Read today’s weather
  • Left:
    • Music: Play previous song

The three images below show how our app design changed over time and demonstrates the differences between traditional mobile UI design and our auditory feedback UI. The towo images on the left show what the UI of the mobile device would look like if it were button based and intended to for sighted users via touch screen. The image on the right completely removes the buttons for the purposes of sightless navigation via our smart ring. The two different UI types can function in essentially the same way but one requires a screen while the other (ours) does not.

Hardware-Software Integration

These are the following resources we used from the Adafruit website:

Bluetooth Module:

Bluetooth Android App:


Adafruit has a fully fledged Android app available for the bluetooth modules it sells called Bluefruit LE Connect. Basically it is a Bluetooth Low Energy Scanner app that allows you to connect to various bluetooth devices and interact with the devices services and characteristics. It allows more advanced interaction and options like updating firmware for Adafruit specific bluetooth modules.

The specific Flora Bluetooth module we used was designed to advertise a UART service by default. Connecting to that service allows devices to communicate with each other. The Adafruit BLE app has specific options for this type of connection/communication.

Although we had prior experience writing Bluetooth apps, we decided rather than starting from scratch, it would be best to use a source of Adafruit’s Android app, strip away all the non essential functions, and add our Ring Gesture auditory feedback UI code. This allowed us to focus much more on the functional components of our specific project rather then testing Bluetooth code we wrote ourselves that may or may not be compatible with Adafruit’s Flora Bluetooth module. After a two weeks of reading, running, and testing the source of Adafruit’s Bluetooth app, we were able to fully strip or comment out the unnecessary functionality while maintaining the connection and UART communication code. Our app ended up looking similar to Adafruit’s but with a lot of options removed and instead of going to the UART activity upon selecting UART as the communication option, it went straight to our blank activity that waited for commands.

The accelerometer used SPI communication protocol to send data to our Flora. Adafruit also had example code for this as well. We added a basic algorithm to detect certain gestures from the three X, Y, Z values on a single plane (hand/fingers pointing to the ground). The algorithm would then determine if an Up, Left, Down, or Right gesture was just detected and then send that data to the Bluetooth UART to send to our Android app. The Android device/app would wait for these Bluetooth signals to come in, active a function or change the menu, and announce the action taken via auditory feedback.

Final Prototype

These images above show one of us (Dominic) wearing the device with a connected Android phone to the left.

Here is a link to the video of it working: TheOne Ring Video Demonstration

Concept Video

We made the video primarily for presentation purposes on ICAT day.  We learned very quickly after feedback from initial presentations that our world was a bit confusing.  We needed a video to clearly show and explain the quirks of our world, and how our gesture control device supports a less economically prosperous class of people.

We shot the video with a digital camcorder device, and used Adobe Premiere to sequence the footage.

Evaluation Plan Discussion

Once we had the device and video we were ready for ICAT day. At first not many people came to our exhibit, but before long we had a slow but steady stream of people. Most people grasped our world quickly, and understood both the need that our project was filling, and how we went about filling it. When we moved on to actually demonstrating the device, most people struggled to get the hang of it at first, but once they got the first gesture or two to work, the others followed much more easily. Once visitors became comfortable with how to use the Ring they typically wanted to talk some more about potential uses, difficulties, or what the project would look like if we were to continue.

Our project could be improved in many ways. The main struggle that people had at first was not understanding what they needed to do, but rather doing the gestures right, in such a way that the device actually read them correctly. This often involved accidentally doing a downward flick when meaning to do an upward one, though this could just be because we always started them with the upward flick to demonstrate cycling through the modes. One thing we did not try was having someone who knew nothing about our world, or what our device was supposed to do, use it to see how easily they could figure out what the device does and how to use it. While we think that this is an unlikely situation, as anyone purchasing our device should know that it is a motion controller for their phone, we could have tested to see just how intuitive our device actually is.

While we received valuable feedback from visitors to our table, in a more formal setting we would have tabulated the questions that they had for us, as well has how easy they though our device was to use, how comfortable they felt while using it, as well as how they would rate their overall experience while using our device. This would allow us to determine how effective our device was and if it would be marketable. Overall we are quite satisfied with our project and the prototype that we created, and grateful for the learning opportunity that it provided.


Group 6 – Timeline & Parts


Parts List:

Flora Power guide:

3D Print Ring-holder for Accelerometer – Dominic



  • Tues 19:
    • Have most of app core functionality done by class (UI and back-end)
      • Music [Nick] – Functionalities to play, pause, next, and previous songs
      • Text Reading [Peter] – Acquire text messages from phone and read them out
      • Weather [Dominic] – Acquire weather information from online source and read them out
      • Bluetooth [Kelvin] – To connect hardware to app
    • Video storyboards/script
      • Make sure world is complete
      • Draw out storyboards for video
  • Thur 21
    • Putting together Flora-Accelerometer-Ring-Bluetooth and 3D print ring
    • Test output data of hardware and begin to connect to app
    • Complete video plan
    • Begin video filming, and also editing and adding needed special effects
  • Tues 26
    • Finish app testing and finish with prototype
    • Complete video 
  • Thur 28
    • Finalize prototype
  • Mon 2
    • Presenting
  • Tues 3
    • Presenting

Group 6 – Response to Critiques

Critiques Summary

For the most part, the actual “quality of our proposed system” was well liked by our critiquers, with most concerns stemming from a misunderstanding of our world.  In particular, we need to better explain the social stigma from using a smartphone, and the reasoning behind the law that bans cellphones while moving.

Individual Responses to Critiquers


Presentation and Communication: 4/5

“Well communicated idea. See comment below.”

Process and Methods: 3/5

“Think about the context. I don’t think you need to change much, just clarify. Why the implants? Perhaps they regulate health?”

Quality of proposed System: 3 – 4

You are definitely onto something. I encourage you to continue refining. Good job!


We were not being entirely clear on some details about our world and there was some confusion about the implants and why exactly certain people need our device. For safety? Law? Necessity? We just need to rework how we explain our world.

Dave Webster

Presentation and communication: 4/5

Clear presentation – well delivered. Need a video showing gestures.

Process and methods: 3-4

Very structured; survey did not support their original device. Needed to Iterate more at the beginning.

Quality of proposed system: 3/5

Just needed more literature review early on.

Net neutrality on steroids


We agree that a video would be very powerful for our concept.  In our final presentation, we will have a concept video.  We’re not sure what he means by “iterate more at the beginning”.  We spend more time that we should have on iteration, in my opinion.


Presentation and communication: 4/5

Visuals were relevant and humorous, but a bit rough/cluttered.

Process and methods: 5/5

Great to see the pivot in system design, and the research that informed it.

Quality of proposed system: 3 – 4

Clear act of revolution and resistance.

Unclear about the exact uses for the ring system.


Our visuals need to be more refined and clear.


Presentation and communication: 3/5

“Clarify the problem and purpose. Material supported the message, but difficulty receiving the message until the discussion part.”

Process and methods: 3/5

“Make some more direct connection with product review and what you are designing.”

“Create a clear connection between your customer discover and the product.”

Quality of proposed system: 4/5

“Make the world (managed world) more clear and what the “issue” is to connect system with the resistance.”


We didn’t present as much product review as we probably should have and there wasn’t a clear and definite connection between our interviews and our product. It was there, but we just we didn’t explicitly say “because of X in interview data, we made X product decision.”



Presentation and communication: 2

Too long to get to idea (spent too much time on the old system?)

Drawings rough.

Process and methods: ⅗ – ⅘

Used a WAAD.

Seemed unaware of powerglove.

Quality of proposed system: ?

Complicated future vision.


In our future presentations, we will iterate more quickly and get to our core idea faster.

We will also better explain our world.

Final Response to Critiques

Most importantly, we need to better define and relate our world to our audience.  First and foremost, we must better explain why the law exists which bans the use of mobile devices while moving.  It would be powerful for us to cite actual real world cases of injuries as a result of using phones while moving.
Second, we need to better define the social implications of non-discretely using a smartphone in a world dominated by cybernetic implants.  It would be prudent to draw an analogy to today world; for example, how would you feel if you saw a person using a PDA or 90s brick phone in today’s smartphone-dominated society?

Group 6 – TheOne Ring

Secondary Research

Related Communication Methods:

Related Technologies:


Imagined World Research:

Proposed Solution

A discrete wearable glove that understands finger gestures/movement through a 3-finger Braille system where 3 fingers represent half of a Braille letter. Messages are sent wirelessly to recipient’s glove where a message is read through six mini vibrating motors that represent one whole Braille letter.

Primary Research
Interview Questions:

Q1: How often do you use your phone while moving? And what do specifically do on it while moving?

Describe the world to the person:A world where upper class people have cybernetic implants that allow them to communicate wirelessly and discreetly and gives them access to information on the internet and supercomputer processing.

Lower class people do not have access to these implants.

Use of computers or other technologies to access the same system is seen with derision by the upper class. Utilizing a device while in motion is outlawed and companies are required to design their hardware to disable themselves when in motion.

Q2: If walking while using a mobile device was illegal how would you feel?

Q3: What would you do to get around that?

Describe the device to interviewee: It’s a glove that detects finger gestures/movement for typing letters and wirelessly sending text messages to other people.

Q4: How would you feel about using that device?

Q5: What do you like and not like about the device?

Overall Points acquired from Interview:

  • Positive feedback:
    • Would be discrete and cool way to bypass law
  • Constructive feedback:
    • How are messages received?
    • It would be difficult to learn the Braille language
    • Complicated idea
    • Glove is not very discrete, would be easily visible and police can tell you are messaging when moving your fingers
    • What if finger gestures are accidentally done
    • Lots of people would get around the law illegally through black market devices or hacking their phone so it can be used in motion

Interview Feedback

After organizing a WAAD, we noticed some common themes…

“How would the user receive output? Would you use an earpiece?” Q5, CR

It seems difficult because you have to memorize your keyboard. How do you read from it. Q4, MC

The device would be cool pretty cool but it doesn’t sound effective and practical. Q4, AP

It’s not really discreet because it’s a glove. What if it’s the summer. If a bunch of people have the gloves. It would be really easy to tell who has it for that purpose. Q4, MC

What about if we spoke to the phone and it wrote for us instead. I don’t see a whole lot of need for that. I could tell Siri. Q4, ZM

Pivoted Solution

Based on the interview feedback, we made some changes…

  • To make our device more discrete we changed from a glove to a ring.
  • Due to negative feedback on the difficulty of learning a 3-finger Braille language for typing, we decided to switch to a simpler system finger controlled gestures system.
  • A finger based gesture system could allow the user to control playing music, getting the weather, and listening to messages.
  • The ring connects to the user’s phone and allows them to control certain functions through finger gestures connected to the ring.
  • An audio earpiece will also connect to the phone and give the user audio feedback so they can determine where they are in the UI.



The images below represent two scenarios in our fictional world. In the first image, a person tries to use their phone in public while walking and couple of police officers notice and intervene. In the second image, the same person uses our discrete ring finger-gesture audio system in public without anyone taking notice.


Expected Parts List

Flora v2 – $19.95:

Flora Bluetooth – $21.50:

Flora accelerometer/magnetometer –  $14.95:

Conductive Thread – $5.95:

Batteries AAA – $4.39:

Batteries Holder – $1.95:

Genetic Modification VS. Physical Augmentations – Group 6

1. Goal:

In a world where advanced genetic modification has become commonplace among the wealthy to give their children greatly superior intelligence, strength, senses, health, etc, we intend to create a physical augmentation device that represents what the non-elite use to resist the system resulting from genetic modification.

2. Idea:

Physical augmentations that enhance the user’s physical and mental abilities.

3. Problem:

    • Genetic modification is expensive and widely inaccessible to lower class people.
    • The economically disadvantaged have difficulty functioning and sometimes even surviving in a society where intelligence, strength, etc. gained through genetic modification is expected.
    • Augmentations vary in price, with the more expensive ones being more discrete as well, while the easily accessible ones are much more noticeable.

4. Audience:

This idea appeals to disadvantaged people who do not have the finances for genetic modification or who are just uncomfortable with the ethics of genetic modification.

5. Approach:

An augmentation that aids the user’s intelligence by quickly and automatically accessing information and presenting data relating to elements within the environment.

These elements can include: people, animals, location, weather, history, events, politics, laws, etc.

Will utilize, speech to text, geo location, image processing, and potentially an augmented reality device word on the head to present information to user.

Example Situation:

  • Increased intelligence gives GMOed individuals increased reaction speed and interpretation abilities which allow them to be drive on roads at high speeds. To perform similarly non GMOed individuals use this physical augmentation to aid their driving abilities.

6. Challenges & Unknowns:


  • How are the devices powered?
  • Where does the data for intelligence enhancing devices come from?
  • How to create a useful contextually aware system within our parameters.


  • Can the devices be made discrete enough to go unnoticed?
  • Do non GMOed people ever have an advantage over GMOed people?
  • Are non GMOed people actively discriminated against by GMOed people?
  • What limitations are there on GMOed people?
  • Do all GMOed people have the same abilities and/or potential?
  • Would a GMOed person ever use a physical augmentation? Why or why not?


Pressure Project 3: MagneBulb



Our selected exclusion area is a combination of reaching and stretching as well as dexterity. Our group was interested in designing a system that will make tasks that require difficult hand motions to be easier for the target audiences. These problems are very common among the elderly population as well as people who have Motor Skill disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis. People who suffer from these disorders can have a lot of problems in carrying out tasks that require accurate hand-eye coordination. This can lead to these people not able to carry out certain tasks or even putting themselves in dangerous situations. We decided to focus onto one certain problem that one of these persons would come across.

Ideation, Sketching and Prototyping

A problem that arises is the difficulty of twisting a lightbulb into a light fixture. This can be extremely difficult for people who have bad motor skills and have to replace a light bulb in difficult areas such as a ceiling that requires a ladder to get to. For people with motor disorders, it can also be a scary task to put in a new light bulb and accidently dropping the light bulb due to difficulty in holding and twisting the bulb. This can lead to a shattered light bulb on the ground that no one wants to clean up.

Our solution to make the light bulb system easier for our excluded audience is to create a lightbulb and lightbulb fixture that uses magnets to attach and stay put. This gets rid of the difficult motion of twisting in a lightbulb with an easy magnetic attachment.

Our initial storyboard of the problem illustrates the problem of an elderly person trying to put in a new lightbulb. The man needs climb a ladder to switch out a new lightbulb attached to the ceiling. Due to the dexterity required to twist the new lightbulb, the elderly man who has trouble with motor skills falls off the ladder and hurts himself because he could not twist the bulb in.



We wanted to hide the internal wiring and other hardware of our device within enclosures, which represent the enclosures of our hypothetical magnetic fixture and magnetic light bulb.  Without the embedding principle, we could have simply used the Little Bits LED component, and attached it directly to the Little Bits battery component. The Little Bits would create our prototype in one simple connection of the LED to the battery. However, the form factor and aesthetics would be severely compromised if we were to use the Little Bits.


We purchased an existing LED light enclosure, complete with internal LED hardware.  We took it apart and rewired it to work with our design, such that when our bulb component is attached our fixture component, the bulb lights up.


We used two primary technologies in the design of our system:  magnetism and LED technology.

Components of Prototype:

  • Battery powered light fixture w/ batteries
  • Black and Red Wires
  • Magnets
  • Cardboard
  • Duct Tape

To create our prototype we had to create the two main components below.

Light Bulb

For the light bulb component, we had to cut out cardboard into a small box shape with a hole just big enough to hold our led light fixture in place. We then opened up the light fixture and after analyzing its internal circuitry, we determined that we could easily extend it in a way that would allow us to place its battery power source external to the actual light while also ensuring it could turn on upon closing the circuit. We also removed the internal springs and set the internal power switch on its side to make the light portion of the circuit more reliable.

Ceiling Fixture

Our second component was the ceiling fixture that would act as the magnetic insert that would twist into a standard light socket. To create this part, we cut out another cardboard box and placed the light fixture’s battery power source inside. We also added wiring that would connect the negative and positive ends of the wires to the negative and positive ends of the first light fixture. To attach both parts together, we used magnets taped to the bottom and top of each component.

Final Prototype

The left image below shows the top of the light bulb component on the left and the top of the ceiling fixture on the right. The image on the right shows the bottom of the light bulb component and the bottom of the ceiling fixture on the right.

The magnets are taped to the top of the light bulb component and the bottom of the ceiling fixture. There are wires on each magnetic side that connect and close the circuit when the magnets pull the pieces together.

When the magnets connect to each other, the circuit closes and the light turns on.


5 minute in class presentation (by 2 group members) and online documentation (by 2 group members) of your prototype.

Individual written reflection on your contribution to the project.

Nick: During our first meeting we brainstormed a design exclusion and believe that there are a lot of problems that systems give people with bad motor skills. After deciding on this general audience, we thought of problems that specifically old people who have trouble in motor skills would have. We thought that twisting in light bulbs would definitely be a difficult task for the elderly so we decided to innovate a system that would allow for them to replace a lightbulb easily through magnets. Before the second meeting, we created a list of materials we would need. I brought scissors and cardboard used to create the prototype and we all helped to make our final prototype design and inputted ideas on how we should construct it. I mostly worked on typing up the online documentation.

Peter: I was, unfortunately, unable to attend our brainstorming session due to schedule conflicts, however I was at our design and prototyping session. After some initial conflict I think that our team gelled pretty well, and we soon had a relaxed atmosphere of jovial industry. I mostly helped create the physical prototype, cutting the cardboard and taping it and the magnets into shape. By collaborating with Kelvin, who was spearheading the electrical component of the project, we established a plan for how the components should fit together, tested our initial design, and – after discovering that the initial design was incapable of supporting the weight of the prototype – iterated to a design that was. Throughout the process we were telling jokes – one of which was rather relevant (How many programmers does it take to change a lightbulb? None. That’s a hardware issue.) –  and staying generally lighthearted. We ended, having completed our prototype to satisfaction, by determining who would present the project to the class.

Kelvin: This was a fairly simple idea but quite tricky to implement especially given the components we were using. The led light we purchased was very cheaply manufactured and there were a few clearly not thought out design decisions, such as the location of the springs. This was great in the end though because it was easy to come with the modification we need. We tried to modify the internals of the light as little as possible so we left everything as is and just tried modifying the battery holder. We tried using some copper wire from the local arts and crafts store but and after testing the connection, we learned that current actually could not flow through the wire so we had to unwire and rewire with our alternative wire from an ECE kit. The circuit worked perfectly when we would close the circuit manually but when we finally had the box components put together, we found out the light fixture’s button would switch on and off at almost random times whenever the light bulb fixture was moved. To resolve this issue, we had to modify the hole to make it just big enough to hold the light fixture in place and we set the internal button on its side so it would stop switching the light off. We also ran into issues with the magnets. We originally wanted to hide the magnets on the internal sides of each cardboard component but this put too much distance between the magnets that the light bulb would, in the best times, barely hold, and fall off at the worst times. To fix this issue we just placed the magnets on the external sides of both components and the connection was strong and reliable. I think a little bit more planning about where and how exactly each prototype component would be placed and used would have helped avoid some of the issues we ran into.

Dominic: I was present during our initial brainstorming session, and also during the design/prototyping stage.  During the design/prototyping stage, my primary roll was to draw sketches of our product and create scenarios using storyboards.  I chose to assist in this way because I’ve been trying to improve my drawing skills, as I believe that being able to clearly communicate ideas through sketches is as important as being able to clearly communicate ideas through the written word, and even more important than the word in certain situations.  Although the artwork isn’t legendary, I hope it’s a step up from my very sad bagel cutter sketch, and has taken us a step towards an atmosphere of jovial industry that we all crave so deeply.

Pressure Project 2: Competitive Eater Probe Kit



Short Description: We are analyzing the competitive eating community. We were brainstorming ideas and came upon competitive eaters and all agreed.

Alisher: Kobayashi first piqued my interest when I saw him down 60+ hot dogs. It should not be humanly possible for that to happen.
Jonathan: I’ve seen a few competitive eaters before (on  youtube and elsewhere) and always wondered how they started doing it.
Dominic:  Watched an anime episode about eating, was thoroughly entranced.  <;
Jae: Subscribed to FuriousPete channel on Youtube. Peter Czerwinski is a competitive eater with over 2 million subscribers.

Links:                                                                             <;                                        <;

Physical Aspect

  • Give printouts of multiple foods and have them to arrange them in order of their strategy to eat them during a competition (in 90 seconds or less)
  • Using the same printouts, have them group them in no particular way at all
  • Word association activity
  • A journal to record a week’s worth of meals and the results from the previous activities


The kit will be mailed out to all participants and should take 7 days to complete once received. The participant will record their responses from the initial activities into the journal and then record their meals for the week in the rest of the pages. On the 7th day, the kit will be mailed back and results will be analyzed.

The Kit



The lunchbox is more of a container for the kit, rather than the kit itself. The lunchbox holds all of the other parts of the kit inside of it. Our hope is that it gives the user a pleasant first impression to our kit. Inside the lunchbox is the contents of the kit – the journal, a link to the survey and the food printouts.

Word Association Activity


The word association activity will contain words like pain and comfort to see what the connection the participant makes with certain words. There will be 12 flashcards and in the instructions, the participant will be told not to look through them before beginning. The participant will look through them and then upon each flashcard, write down the first word that popped up into their head. This activity would reveal if there is a deeper connection between competitive eaters and food or if they are all different from one another.

Words: Hot dogs, kitchen, bathroom, wings, pain, love, comfort, stress, ribs, doctor, exercise, water

Meal Journal


The food journal will initially be a place to record the participant’s results from the food printouts and word association activities. It will then basically be a place to record what the person ate for a week. They would not have to think about dieting, counting calories or exercise. They will be told to go about their eating habits as normal but just record their meals. They will record their meals for 6 days and on the 7th day, write a reflection on what they thought about their normal diet and how it compares to the days/weeks before a competition.

Food Printouts


The food printouts are the final item in the kit. The user will be given a variety of different printouts, each with a different food on them. Then, in under 90 seconds, the user will then arrange the printouts in the order that they would eat those items in a competitive eating competition. Once the time is up, each user will record the reasoning behind choosing the specific ordering.

After they record their explanations, we would have them to then place the food printouts into groups. There would be no direction given as to what “type” of groups should be made. The goal of this would be to see how the users categorize the foods (i.e. by their sweetness, difficulty in eating, etc).

The overall purpose of this activity is to get an inside look at the thought process behind competitive eating. Will there be trends that each competitive eater shows when choosing the order? Will different eaters prefer to eat foods in different orders? Each user giving us his/her reasoning behind the ordering will also really help us to understand if there are trends or techniques that are common across all competitive eating or if the ordering really depends on the specific eater.

List of Food Printouts:

  • hot dogs
  • wings
  • hard shell tacos
  • steak
  • homemade chocolate chip cookies
  • chocolate cake
  • saltine crackers
  • raw onions
  • sardines
  • ribs

Instructions for Kit

  • Open kit (lunchbox)
  • Take out the food printouts bag, word association pack and the journal
  • Start a timer for 90 seconds and order the food printouts in the order that you would eat them during a competition
  • Record why you ordered them the way you did in the journal provided
  • Go back to the printouts and now group them in any way you see best fit
  • Record your reasoning in the journal provided
  • Take the word association pack and make sure not to look at the inner cards as you take them out
  • Start with the “Start Here” card and flip through the cards
  • With each new word, right down the first word that pops into your head into the journal
  • Keep flipping through the cards and recording the resulting words
  • Use the rest of the journal to record every meal and snack for the next 7 days
  • On the 7th day, record a reflection and compare to a competition week
  • Please mail kit back once completed
  • Thank you


Hand holding fork:,1260299725,11/stock-vector-vector-illustration-of-icon-isolated-in-a-modern-style-depicting-a-hand-holding-a-fork-42460636.jpg


hot dogs:









Individual Reflections

Alisher: Overall it was a fun pressure project. We brainstormed ideas at first and started implementing them but realized they weren’t really the best options. We threw out some old ideas and came up with better ones. It was kind of hard to stay broad with a group like competitive eaters but we got the job done. I have always been interested in how these people do what they do but have never actually competed so it was personally beneficial to set up a probing kit for this community.

For our kit, I think it would benefit a competitive eater because they would be able to reflect on their profession and hopefully come out of it with a better understanding of their work. One hope would be to help these competitive eaters refine their techniques or reflect not their connection to food. For us as a group, since we were all interested in probing this community, it would be beneficial to learn more about the inner workings of competitive eaters.

The probe process in general is intriguing because it gathers so much data in an open ended manner. You never know what the result will be but with every probing kit discussed in class, the team the built the kit learned a great amount about the target community. One possible weakness would be an undesirable outcome that negatively affects the participants themselves. Overall though, it is evident that the probe process has more benefits than downfalls.


Dominic:  Our design process was fairly straightforward.  During class, we discussed areas of interest concerning the competitive eating community, then proceeded to brainstorm ways in which to probe.  Initially our probe ideas were very closed ended, composed of specific questions pertaining to food.  After some further deliberation, we opened up our ideas and began to develop more open-ended activities.

As for our kit, even after opening up our probing ideas, our questions and activities may still be too highly coupled to the activity of eating itself.  In this way, our kit may be less concerned with understanding the set of values common to competitive eaters, than concerned with the specifics of eating.  I suppose it all depends on the goals of our probe kit.  Are we trying to fundamentally understand competitive eaters as people, or are we trying to dig deeper into the “world” of competitive eating?