Category Archives: Sean Rowland

D-Dome (Group 8) Design Documentation


The Pitch

We initially described our D-Dome system as a “deployable self-defense mechanism for a near-future, highly dangerous environment.” For our original exposition, we crafted an anarchical world, which had formed after a severe political revolution. Inhabitants of this world were nothing short of savage towards one another due to the limiting supply of natural resources and the people’s inability to gather everything they need to survive. The criminalized nature of this world led us to D-Dome. In short, we wanted to develop a system that would provide people with instantaneous safety and security.

Essentially, we envisioned D-Dome as a self-deploying shield that would activate as soon as the wearer’s heart rate raised passed a specific threshold, denoting that the wearer was under high pressure or stress. Once the system is in motion, the user is enveloped by a 360 degree protective barrier. Once the user’s stress level has returned to a relaxed state, the shield will close back into itself, allowing the user to continue on their way.

Re-Draft of System:

After our radical initial pitch, we realized that there were too many hypothetical scenarios that we would not be able to adequately address given the time and scope of this class. Many members of the class brought up concerns about the feasibility of the immediate deployment of the device, the strength of the material, and how people would feel “protected” by the device in long-term situations.
We still wanted to keep our government-devoid world with a collapsed economy, but we withdrew our emphasis on an always dangerous, hostile environment (though raids are still a possibility). Our new idea still involved a wearable, but this time it was a suit, named D-DOME, that could automatically inflate into a tent which would serve as a temporary shelter. This would be vital in our world as resources are rapidly depleting and frequent migration would be necessary for an individual to location himself near pools of resources. Additionally, the tent would feature extra fabric to link other D-DOMEs, enabling other nomads to establish communities. This is an act of resistance/revolution to the current system of self-reliance and hostility towards one another.





We created a survey that provided feedback on how people perceive camping and socializing with strangers while camping. We asked for their general information of who they are, as well as their camping knowledge. This information allowed us to scope who would use this product today. We mainly found that people are willing socializing while camping but have a hard time trusting someone within your camp site. The other primary research we performed was interviewing a mechanical engineer and a material engineer, which helped build our idea. They pointed us towards what material we would use along with how it would transform from wearable suit to the shelter.


Once we developed our idea of what our system will solve, within the world we created, we then conducted research on various topics. These topics included materials, technologies, as well as research that helped bring depth to our world. For the product D-Dome, we needed to know what materials it would be made of, and how it would be held together. We found similar ‘survival suits/kits’ that are currently on the market which lead us to form a suit that transforms into a shelter. The next big issue we needed to address was a power source to deploy the dome as well as the security system. We found clothing that has solar panels stitched into it, which feeds a battery that holds the power. Our world, was more focused on a future where society is collapsing, which to gather research for we focused on how the homeless community lives. We found the poor mistreatment and lack of care for this population helped guide our world as well as our product. By including the connector between D-Dome’s we hoped to build a sense of community that changes people’s view of others, therefore changing they way they are treated.

Critiques & Refinement of System:

We already responded to the feedback we received in our guest critiques here:

Essentially, the refinement of our system involved redefining our world’s time period to justify the demand for such a product in desperate times. Here’s a description of our updated world:

Our company created a suit that conveniently and effortlessly transforms into a temporary shelter, with the ability to link tents together to metaphorically and physically establish communities. It was originally marketed towards groups of enthusiast campers and homeless communities who would appreciate the convenience of quickly establishing a shelter as needed. For campers, the primary motivator of the linking feature was to ward off bear attacks. Statistically, bears are less likely to attack groups in the wilderness than individuals traveling on their own. For the homeless communities, if several homeless individuals were linked up, the authorities of an area would be less likely to disband these large groups and address this problem in a more benevolent way.

However, research has shown that the world is on the verge of economic collapse. Our company decides that this is a good opportunity to market our product for a “post-apocalyptic” world where resources are scarce and survival is dependent on migrating frequently. Communities that band together for mutual survival will last much longer than individuals attempting to subsist on their own (like the bear analogy). Therefore, our current product was the perfect fit for a future world where resources are rapidly depleting, forcing the population to migrate often to locate themselves near pools of resources. Additionally, the linking feature would lend itself well to individuals establishing communities for mutual survival.  

Prototype Design and Implementation:


Since the time remaining after we confirmed our idea was somewhat limited, we knew that creating one full-scale prototype that could actually demonstrate the suit-to-tent transformation just wasn’t realistic. Instead, we settled on making two separate doll-scale prototypes to showcase the aesthetic and functionality of both the suit and tent forms.

The suit prototype was simply a representation of what the physical suit would look like when worn. To implement this, we first cut out a larger piece of canvas cloth that was comparable to the amount of cloth used for the walls on the tent prototype. Then we fitted the cloth to our doll by folding back and pinning excessive cloth using the safety pins. Next, we measured and cut out the pieces of cloth that we would use for the sleeves and hood on the suit prototype. We attached them to the suit using a hot glue gun. Finally, to represent the straps that would allow a D-Dome user to transform the suit into the backpack form, we glued two adjustable velcro straps to the back of the suit prototype.



Additionally, we wanted to represent our Intrusion Detection System within our abstract prototype. When the D-Domes are linked, a circuit is formed between the shelters, not dissimilar to the “Wagon Wheel” established during the American frontier.. Once the D-Dome circuit has been created, any pressure applied from the outside of the community onto the tented wall (i.e. an outsider attempts to rip open the D-Dome’s walls) an alarm sounds, and lights flash so that people living together within the D-Dome community will be alerted to the intrusion. In order to demonstrate this idea within our prototype, we decided to utilize the LittleBits kit. We wired LEDs, a pressure sensor, and a harsh buzzer throughout the hidden wall of the tent. The pressure sensor is located directly behind the wall that “links” the two D-Domes together. When someone presses against this wall, LEDs inside the D-Domes light up, and the buzzer continually sounds in order to demonstrate the overall alarm system.




In lieu of a Kickstarter-esque trailer for our product, we decided to craft a small story concerning the characters used in our various prototypes: Ken and Barbie. Essentially, we wanted to convey the idea that in our imagined reality, people do not last long by themselves. However, the technology behind D-Dome enables people to commune around one another, promoting an overall sense of camaraderie. The initial storyboard called for a small story that takes place over two days. On day one, Ken is wandering alone through a hostile environment. The D-Dome strips away any concerns of shelter he might have on the first night, though he is still left alone to fend for himself. During the course of the following day, Ken meets Barbie and the two “link” up their D-Domes with the knowledge that they will be safer together.



For our evaluation we talked to other engineering majors that applied to our prototype and deliverable. We had them fill out a survey that was comprised of a series of questions that pertained to design. For example ideal materials for the D-Dome, how should the shelter deploy automatically, and what should be the primary power source. This is to check other possibilities that we might not have thought of as well as reinforce the design process our group had already gone through. The second part of the evaluation was for the participants to watch the short film created about D-Dome, then followed by a few questions that made sure the message and problem would be solved by our prototype. The response backed up our ideas and thoughts that went into the making of D-Dome, for instance being able to carry your shelter wherever you go and being able to create a sense of community.

Group 8 (D-Dome) Timeline of Events


April 19th

  • Evaluation plan created
  • Rough sketches of prototype design
  • World refinement

April 20th

  • Obtain parts and make preliminary progress toward prototype(s)
    • Sam will get cloth/synthetic material for tent/suit shell
  • Document design process
  • Make a presentation for design process and evaluation plan

April 21st* – Online documentation of design process. Development and presentation of evaluation plan.

  • Mark obtains 3D printed prototype (if ready)

April 26th – Conduct evaluation study and produce concept video

  • Conduct Evaluation Study
  • Most of prototype progress is complete

April 28th* – 90% DUE

  • Prototypes done
  • Technical details addressed (alternative energy, alternative forms of suit)
  • Storyboard of Video (bare minimum), actual video done (stretch goal)
  • Presentation outline

April 29th

  • Final touches for video and prototype
  • Rehearse presentation

May 2nd* – ICAT DAY

May 3rd* – Exhibit and Final Presentation

Group 8 – Critique Responses


Review by Zach Duer:
Review on Quality of Proposed System:  He mentioned that there were some parts of our system that needed more thought; this included weight distribution, hot climates, and whether this really helps with the sense of community.

Response: The main take away was to have the D-Dome be able to transform into a backpack for another way to carry it on person. This will be applicable when it is a warm day so that the user will not be wearing a hot suit throughout the day. Zach also touched on weight distribution, for the suit form as well as the backpack, which can be modified by making the components more modular. If the floor mat and other non essential parts needed to inflate the dome then have them stored in a backpack like pouch that can be accessed after the initial inflation takes place.

Review by Kurt Luther:

Notable feedback: When we asked about how viable distributing our system would be in a collapsed economy, he suggested rolling back our world to the transition period where the economy is on the verge of imminent collapse so that people could actually justify the value in it.

He also supported our idea of the psychology of groups deterring hostile individuals or entities. He mentioned that individuals camping are statistically more susceptible to bear attacks than groups.

Response: This was crucial feedback because we had a difficult time justifying how people would trade their goods or services in a world where this product would be seen as a luxury. It also justifies how we could manufacture this product in a world before resources (i.e. depleting Tyvek, solar panels, air pumps) start rapidly depleting.

The statistic about bear attacks grounds the psychological deterrent in a more practical context. We were looking for more ways to extend our product to modern society and its problems.

Review by Kari Zacharias:

Process and Methods: “… could use much more research on community-building.”
Quality of proposed system: “I’m not sure what the [unknown] of this system are ‘resisting,’ aside from death.”

Response: Our explanation of the “resistance” portion of this prompt derives from our product’s ability to bring people together. In our imagined reality, where nomadic scavenging is considered the norm, we wanted to challenge the general notion of hostility, which usually occurs in fictional worlds like the one we have built i.e. “survive at all costs.”

The above comments from Ms. Zacharias indicate that we need to expand upon this “resistance” in order to properly address the prompt. Why would a series of communal tents suddenly encourage strangers to trust one another in a supposedly dangerous environment? Ms. Zacharias’s concerns allow us to see that we need to address the sense of community between tents and acquire more research concerning what it takes to make a community inviting to strangers. Conversely, we might be able to refactor our world in order to make the “resistance” more acceptable. Perhaps there could be a driving force within our world that would more naturally bring strangers together. These are important things to address that we

Review by Margaret Ellis:

Quality of proposed system, How will the system handle the amount of power will need to run the security system when the tents are place into wheel wagon mode as well the power to self inflate the tent.

Response:  Our explanation of to the power problem that may happen is that come up with back up power supply. That if the user is in the area where it very cloudy and that the solar panel will be able gain a enough power to run everything. We came up with an idea that it comes with a back up power supply. That if the solar panel does gain enough energy to run everything but with the backup power supply the user can pump up the tent and storage the energy for the alarm system.

The information above gave us a good system depending the location of where the user is using it. That this will add a good back up supply of the power.

Updated Work on D-Dome:

  • Backpack Feature
  • More modular for ease of repairs
  • Small changes to imagined reality (world on verge of collapse)
  • Back up sense of community with Bear Attack Statistics

Group 8 – Final Project Pitch

1. The goal. Identify the core nugget that explains what your pitch is trying to achieve.

Our mission is to be able to provide a sense of safety for everyone no matter what conditions they live in. While there are many similar deployable safety mechanism ours targets a larger audience that may not be able to afford more expensive models. Our self deploying shield is cost effective but still effective to ward off threats of all kinds. With this product people would not be limited to just staying indoors for safety, but now can venture to get resources needed to survive or even have a sense of freedom again.

2. The idea. This is a version of your 5-second pitch.

Deployable self-defense mechanism for a near-future, highly dangerous environment.

3. The problem. This is a modified version of a pitch set-up: as it provides a framework for the idea. Perhaps you can have a tight bulleted list of data points that identify the problem or short, realistic scenarios that expresses why these problems are important.

In an alternate reality, tensions within a country have caused a radical political revolution that dismantles the current government, essentially resulting in an anarchy where every man is for himself. This world has a rapidly depleting amount of resources, so the residents of this country have become increasingly savage towards one another in order to sustain themselves. Obviously, since the country now has no central authoritative body, no person is protected by any sort of laws against this criminal activity. Our solution is a deployable self-defense mechanism that would protect and potentially neutralize any incoming threats of violence or mugging.

4. The audience. Who will this idea appeal to? What is the profile of the potential customer/user/agent? What is the profile of the non-customer? (Who would never ever be interested/horrified/angered by this idea?)

Customers: General populace, civilians

Non-customers: Pacifists, figures of authority

5. The approach. How does the idea work? Explain, at a high level, the outline for how the idea will be implemented – background research and methods.

The idea will work when there is a threat approaches the user in a deadly action. The shield will be carry by user in a back pack. Where the user will press a button on the front strap of the backpack.  Once the button is press the shield will deployed from the background and the protect the user. The shield will deployed either automatically or self deployed. The shield will come back into the backpack once the user recall it by pressing the button. This idea came about to the fact of the trophy system that the military use to protect their armor vehicle from incoming missiles.  

6. Challenges & Unknowns. What are the big open issues that need to be resolved, or are questions a reasonable person would ask? If you were being pitched to, what questions would you have? Identify them and demonstrate you’ve thought about those issues – ideally with a credible (if fuzzy) plan, or plan for a plan, for resolving.

From the resistance point of view there would be many questions raised about safety/practicality:

  • Is this safe for use?
  • How heavy/compact is the product?

The challenges we faced that we had to ask ourselves. We want it to be as easy on the customer to obtain and to feel comfortable relying on the product.

  • How would you get the product to the audience?
  • Would it be claustrophobic in the bubble?
  • How do we account for various body shapes and sizes?
  • What are the different versions of this product?

The Buzz Switch (Pressure Project 3)

Vision Impaired: Have difficulty in everyday tasks in current society, especially knowing if the lights are on or off at home. By not seeing as well as others users might leave the lights on at home, so our kit would be implemented throughout their house and synced with an application to notify the user if they left the lights on when they leave home

Short Description: The vision impaired experience many difficulties in their daily routines that the visually sound people don’t think twice about. The lights at their home for instance could be on or off and they might not be able to tell which. This of course could lead to higher electricity bills, the extra costs may be offsetting enough to cause them to postpone their trip to Hawaii or buying that new lazy-boy they’ve been eyeing for some time. Our group thus decided that this would be an excellent opportunity to create something that could aid this demographic in their lives.

For our actual construction of the project we decided that since when a person typically loses one sense their other’s are heightened. So with this we thought that the best thing was to reinforce this so we basically added a buzzer to notify the person when the light switch is flipped.

As far as building the prototype we messed around with both the makey makey and little bits but decided to go with the little bits because we wanted to have a light switch and buzzer to notify the user. We mostly just kind of already knew what we wanted since we already had experience with the little bits. Also with the overall construction it wasn’t to bad since our prototype is pretty simple just a light switch, light, and buzzer. With this we thought adding a helpful app to allow for checking to make sure that the lights are on/off.


Andrew Sanders

I do not know any visually impaired people, so when we chose to address this exclusion group I found it difficult to put myself in their shoes. As we discussed our thoughts though, I began to see possible challenges they might face and what they would need in order to overcome them. I believe that our design would make a contribution towards improving the quality of life for the visually impaired, even if it is small. My role was to work on the online deliverable portion of the project.

Mark Olsen

During the idea of coming up with a good topic for this pressure project had me thinking from the beginning. The most difficult part of this project is coming with a exclusion group. We were throwing out many different group. We finally decide on a group and once we did that the rest of the project was easy. The main part for my role was coming with a good group to cover and using personal knowledge of our group help with our design. I will be presenting for our group tomorrow.

Sean Rowland

The hardest part of the whole process was addressing an exclusion group. When we finally decided on the group that our kit would help we then needed to develop the product that would help them with challenges they face. Similar with past pressure projects it is always hard to develop without outside critiques. This leads to bias reviews of our own product. Besides the group contribution of the deliverable my role was to present the project.

Cody Mensavage

Definitely the hardest part for our group was to find an exclusion group. Since one of our members had experience dealing with the visually impaired. So we decided to go with that and I feel like we chose a pretty good topic. For our actual design we chose a small alarm system that will alert the user when a light switch is flipped. Since they are visually impaired they may not be able to see too well and thus may need a confirmation to allow them to know that the lights are on/off.

Google Photos App tags black people as ‘gorillas’

Group 8, Members: Jonathan Downs, Peter Maurer, Sean Rowland, Victoria Worrall

Identify, link to and describe error-laden experience

Google Photos tags black people as ‘gorillas’ in photo recognition software (

Short description of above experience

Black users take a photo of themselves and upload it to the Google Photos App. The app’s automatic image labeling process labels the photo of the users into the ‘gorillas’ category. The users are rightfully shocked by the label.


Our design process

We identified where in the original process the error occurred. We then branched off before the error occurred and implemented an alternate solution. We also maintained the flow of the original application but with the correct (intended) output instead.

Description of proposed intervention

Black users take a photo of themselves and upload it to the Google Photos App. An anthropologist hired by Google has already identified a series of sensitive labels. The automatic imaging label process labels the photos of users into the gorillas category. Since this label is sensitive, the photo goes through an additional, more advanced, screening process. The users are correctly labeled as ‘people’ and are content.

Concept sketch of proposed intervention