We are team MARYa (Mohan, Andrea, Roly, and Yingyang), four students at Carnegie Mellon University that are assigned with the task to create a useful implement for our older friend, Maria. Previously, we had documented our meeting with Maria to find out what could be useful for her. In this stage, we took our idea and turned it into a prototype for Maria to see and critique at our next meeting with her, which was on November 13th. We found in our initial meeting with Maria that she needed was throwing her papers on the floor instead of filing them, so we tried to come up with a product that would organize her papers for her.
Product: An Automatic Filing Cabinet
Our prototype demonstrates a cabinet that files itself. Although it is completely a “behaves-like” prototype (it has no code yet), it does represent what our team envisioned for the product.
We want Maria to be able to put papers that she needs filed onto the tray of our product, press a button, and let the machine do the rest. The machine will determine where the papers go based on the button pressed, which corresponds to a shelf. The tray will move to that shelf, and a small conveyor-belt-like mechanism will push the papers onto the shelf. The tray would then return to the top of the machine, waiting for more papers. The buttons are located on top of the machine for easy access, and the front of the shelves are open to allow the user to take the papers they need out.
Our first meeting with Maria was much later than the other groups’, so we were a bit behind everyone else. While the rest of the class was working on the third in-class session for their prototype, our group was meeting Maria for the first time. Because of this, we only had around 4 days to meet up and work on a prototype. We couldn’t add any of the actual motorized or mechanical features of the prototype, but we did get a full-scale cardboard version of the prototype.
The crit on November 13th was pretty useful to our group. We met with Maria, and showed her our prototype. She gave us some useful feedback that we will want to incorporate into our final product.
She asked us to put wheels under it so that it could be moved easily, which I thought was pretty useful because none of us had thought about that. We asked her feedback on the placement of the buttons, and she gave us useful feedback for that as well, saying if we put the buttons on top of the shelf she wouldn’t be tempted to put things on top of it. She also asked us to number the shelves instead of writing labels on it so that she can label them herself and change the labels if she wants to, which I thought was something we should definitely consider.
For our next steps, we have a ton of work to do. We have to order our parts, figure out the mechanical and software aspects of this, finalize our design, cut the shelf itself out, and basically everything else. It will be quite a challenge to do this in 2 weeks especially with Thanksgiving break coming up, but hopefully we will pull it off.