Ideation and Synthesis!

I recently worked through ideation of various concepts based on a statement (*forthcoming* 🙂 ) on my thesis work.  After my mid-thesis review at the end of last semester, I am focusing on the area of fungi and mycological forays and building wearable technologies that support that endeavor. It was a relief to get the feedback to narrow down to this specific area after mucking around in a lot of other terrains such as beekeeping and birdwatching.

When I first started graduate school I was not a big fan of using sticky notes cause I thought it was rather wasteful and a weird corporate hold that 3M has over design students. But I have gotten quite fond of the tangibility of scribbling on a sticky and being able to arrange it in various groupings that digital methods do not (currently) afford. I wonder if there is a way to make resusable ones with magnets, like the flat flexible ones used for business cards, and dry erase markers to draw on the magnets. hm Anyways,  through a couple of sessions, I generated ~60 thoughts based on observations, research, what is necessary during mycological forays, and what might be a interesting to see. In this process, I did not distinguish between analog and digital tools, it was just an initial brain drain of ideas.

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IMG_6922 IMG_6928 IMG_6929Here are all the ideas laid out and some closeups of some of the ideas… I find it helpful (and more fun) to create a small sketch with your idea, especially when you are working towards building an object. I then began affinity diagramming (or is it: I then began to create an affinity diagram) to draw out relationships and reoccurring themes among the ideas.

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After a lot of rearranging and sorting, the sticky notes were corralled into 4 themes with one theme (tools + sensors) split into many sub themes around where the sensor or tool would be placed on the body. Although it is hard to have distinct categories and I feel that some of these themes overlap, these categories are useful for me to go further ahead in ideation of technologies and objects to prototype. Sub themes under Wearable Tool and Sensors include: foot-based, face-based, garment-based storage solutions, spore collector hand-based and accessory -based, for things that you might carry in a pocket or in your hand, but not necessarily worn. There is a also another sub-theme “For the novice” in includes ideas that might be useful for a novice fungal forayer just starting out, but might not be necessary once once a basic understanding of field identification has been established. Ideas under this sub-theme included a scarf that had a basic mushroom key printed on it, temporary tattoos of key features to look at for identification and a communication device that allows a mycologist leading the walk to share information while they are in different areas of the forest.  In the above image, Location Based sensing is considered a separate category but is actually included in Tools and Sensors in the final grouping. Location based sensing ideas work to create a model or map of the human fungi relationships during a foray. At first it was separate because it was more focused on conceptual aspects of creating maps rather than an enhancement of a tool.

Other themes include Portable Power;  Data Collection Variables; and Design Parameters. Portable Power includes ideas of ways to generate and store energy for the electronic devices. Data Collection variables includes the different variables that are to be collected by the user during the foray.  Lastly, Design parameters are various criteria of the prototypes and objects. These include flexibility, water and weather proof and easy access to reach tools and storage.

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From here I started forming some lists for all the physical and digital data that is being collected based on all the ideas (aside from my paltry listing in the above affinity diagram), the tools that are being used/repurposed, the different types of wearable/portable objects and the variety of materials that are being used, which includes types of textiles along with rigid materials that will be included in the objects. These lists are helpful in that it provides another method of grouping from the ideation before creating prototypes.  My next steps is to create a mood board as a representation of the design aesthetics to create a cohesive body of work as I move forward.

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