Category Archives: Nicholas Hu

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: ProBro Kit


Short description of the selected community and explanation for your group interest (include links if appropriate)

The community we chose to probe is fraternities from anywhere in the United States at all colleges and universities that have Greek life. We want to understand what it is like in the daily life of a frat bro. We all have our current vision of what a frat guy is but do we truly understand what they do and who they are. What are the differences between frats and the individuals that are involved with them. We want to not only understand what they are all about between individual fraternities but to also either prove or disprove any stereotypes that come along with being in a fraternity.

Fraternities would complete this probe kit in a span of a month, for every month of the year. Our end goal is to have this probe kit help college students in fraternities to record their experiences through these Mad Libs, to learn more about their personalities, interests and possibly the differences between the different fraternities based off of our observations.

ProBro Kit

  • Kit Items
    • Account Picture
    • Breathometer
    • Snapchat Probe Kit
    • $20 VISA Gift Card
    • Mad Libs
  • Instructions
    • Go to and create an account. Most of your work will be done through this website!
    • Set your website account profile to a picture that describes you well.
    • Use Breathometer 3x day (Morning, Noon, Night) connected to smartphone app.
    • Add “ProBros” on Snapchat and continue snapchatting like any other day.
    • Buy something with your VISA card and describe it to us on the website.
    • Complete at least 1 Mad Lib a week on website.
  • Timeline
    • 1 Month
  • Distributing The Kit
    • Send the kit to the participating frats in the mail.
  • Returning The Kit
    • They can keep whatever they get so there is nothing to return.


Documentation of the overall presentation of your kit, including possible instructions, timeline for completion, method of distribution and return.

Disclaimer: All the information provided by the user is confidential and will only be used for our own research purposes.

The users will be given a website where they will create an account that is only visible to us for study purposes. No information will be publicized.



Documentation of each element of your probe kit, including written descriptions, photographs, illustrations etc.

1) Account picture

From the first instruction of the Probe kit, the user will have to create a ProBro account on the website. We will ask them in the instructions to upload a picture that they think describes themselves well. Through this we can examine certain characteristics and understand what type of people these Frat Bros might look like based on common physical appearances.



2) Breathometer connected to smartphone

A breathalyzer is a device mostly used by the police department to detect the amount of alcohol content in a person’s breath. The specific breathalyzer we are going to work with is the one that connects to smartphones, known as the Breathometer. This device would be simply attached to the headphone port of the smartphone. The data would be later stored in an application that we have specifically created for our cultural community to use, in order to collect and share a month’s worth of breathalyzer data.  We are hoping for our community members to complete at least 2-3 breathalyzer test per day, one in the morning, one at noon and one before going to bed. We cannot guarantee their use of this device at those specific times (especially the one before going to bed.) All the results we get from this part of the application would be anonymous.


3) Snapchat Probe Kit account

Community will send their snapchats to the snapchat account so that we can examine their lives. With the snapchat it will allow us to see what they are doing at different times of the day and since it is already a popular app we can see what they are sending to their friends and fellow bros and it won’t really interfere with their day to day activities. This will allow us to get a deeper understanding of what they actually do as opposed to just following a scheduled list of tasks that aren’t normally part of their daily routine.



4) $20 Visa gift card

We will be sending each fraternity that participates in the probe kit a $20 VISA gift card. The purpose of sending a VISA gift card is that it allows the fraternity to spend the money anywhere on whatever they desire. All they have to do is keep the receipt and post it under their account on the ProBro website. Doing this allows us to get a better understanding of the frat bro culture as well as insight on the types of things that they spend money on. Are they spending the money to benefit the rest of the fraternity, themselves, or just for some extra booze? This will allow us to answer that question as well as see the differences among various fraternities and the way that they act.

visa gift card


5) Mad Libs

Mad libs is a word game where the user will write down a list of words to fill in blanks in a story that must match the given parts of speech. Since Mad Libs are a simple and fun activity, it will be easy to get users to complete them. This will be used to capture the vocabulary of the community by examining the words they are using for the Mad Libs. Furthermore, this activity can be used to understand the sense of humour of the community. The Probe Kit will contain instructions for the user to go to a ProBro website where they have to create an account which will be used for other parts of the probe kit as well. The user will also be asked to complete at least one Mad Lib a week.

mad lib



Individual written reflection on your design process and the project experience overall; and discussion of the benefits and weaknesses not only of your kit, but of the probe process in general.

Nick: During the brainstorming part of our project, we had decided on creating a kit that was fun and creative in probing a community. Although we had no real reason to choose Fraternities as our community, it appeared to be a fun choice for this project. Due to already seeing other projects presented, it seemed like a good idea to stray away from the common ideas such as picture taking methods with a camera. We brainstormed and bounced ideas around to come up with a list of possible methods. At first we weren’t sure whether to imply certain stereotypes into our Probe kit, but ended up deciding that it would make the methods more interesting for ourselves and even the users.

I think our Probe Kit would be good at interesting enough to the user that they would enjoy and fulfill the tasks at hand. Most of the ideas are not bothersome to a user’s daily routine except maybe the breathalyzer, but which could still be fun to many of the user’s. Our probe process would be effective in not losing data when users don’t send the kit back because we do not need the kit back. Since all of our information is sent online through the website and the breathalyzer app, we do not have to worry about information being lost. One negative aspect of our kit is that it may come off as offensive in that we are implying that fraternities are always drinking. At the same time, some users might pride themselves in that which could turn out positive or negative on different types of people.


Cody: For our design process we basically just all starting thinking of a community and after a while we had decided upon fraternities. I think we chose this because none of us were in a frat and all were pretty curious if they were like everyone thinks they are. Then after that we worked on the actual probes themselves and what we wanted to use. We first came up with a madlibs which I think was cool because we could see their vocabulary (nouns, verbs, etc.) and see how it compared to our own. We then got to the breathalyzer which would help to see if frats did drink as much and as often as we assume. Then with snapchat we can see their daily activities and see what they send to their friends on a daily basis. I think that our probkit is pretty creative and we as a team were able to build off of one another. I think we were pretty creative when it came to some of the actual items in the kit because we were able to utilize technology like smartphones when it came to the snapchat idea. It allowed to not directly change the prob users entire schedule because it is typically already part of it since a lot of people use it already. I feel like we did have to stereotype a lot when it came down to thinking of ideas for probes like the breathalyzer, but I feel like this is important to help truly understand what is going on at fraternities.


Brandon: In the brainstorming phase we all brought to the table a few communities that we didn’t know much about. We knew from the start that we wanted to create a kit that would be fun but also useful in gaining some information about a community that none of us had experience with. We eventually decided to go with the ProBro kit, a kit that would be used to probe the fraternity communities. This kit would contain a number of methods to probe such as a MadLib task, breathalyzer, and using the mobile SnapChat app in order to get an idea of what it’s really like being in a fraternity. All of the data we collect would be through an app that we would build ourselves and the participating fraternities would just download the application to their phones. We decided to go forward with these methods of probing and data collection because we wanted to take a more modern approach to probing rather than going forward with the traditional methods.

I believe these tasks that we came up with for probing the fraternity communities will help provide a lot of insight on what it is actually like to be in a fraternity. Fraternities have a lot of stereotypes that are associated with them due to what people see in movies, tv shows, and the things that they hear from other people. This is nothing new as these stereotypes have been portrayed in films for decades. While some of our tasks, such as the breathalyzer, may seem offensive, we are going forward with it because we believe it’ll help gather data that will prove that not all fraternities spend their entire days drinking. I believe that by using our kit we would be able to get a true understanding of the fraternity community and realize that not all of the stereotypes are true, especially for all of the independent fraternities.


Pranavi: Going into the probe kit pressure project idea we weren’t sure about what to put down for what should be in the kit, since none of us had any direct connection to fraternities and we definitely did not know how the Greek system worked. This entire process has been in the experimental phase and we went based off the Greek life stereotypes. As we went through ideas, we went based off those stereotypes, which meant highlighting the party aspect of their lives. Most of the items that we have laid out could be offensive to the ‘bros’ that we have this kit built for. All these items were catered to trying to understand what kind of people are in different fraternities and what kind of habits they have as a whole, comparative to other fraternities. All these items could be easily accessible and tracked through an umbrella application which would feel less of a hassle for students to use and keep track of, especially when we spend hours on our phones during the day. One of the team members had the idea of Mad Libs as an item, which is actually a great way to understand what kind of background and education and humor they have through their word choice. The breathalyzer was an idea to see how much of a party animal each person was and we made it more accessible by having it small and easily attached to a smartphone to an application. Snapchat,the  personal picture and the gift card were ideas we came up with to understand habits and lifestyles. Overall this entire project was really entertaining especially when we were trying to think to scenarios when the bros would use these items.



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