Reflection – Tudor

What are the strengths of your concept?

  1. Relatability to the problem. The reason why we all found the idea to be good is because we can relate to the main problem that we offer a solution to: having to pull out your smartphone/music player from your pocket in order to change the songs or adjust the volume. From my point of view, this strength played a major part in the well-development of the concept and of our team.
  2. Safety. By having a simple media controller on the handlebar (as opposed to having to control the music you are listening to by using the smartphone), you are more focused on the road and pay more attention to your surroundings. In turn, this means that accidents caused by human error or negligence on the road.
  3. Uniqueness and simplicity. While our product might seem too simple for it to not already exist, this is actually the truth. After searching for competitors, we did not discover any other company that puts into practice our concept in its current form.
  4. Price. While similar products do exist and might seem to be the same concept as ours, they are more expensive to purchase. Given that our target group is mostly young adults (with all of them most probably owning a smartphone already), one of our initial goals was to create an affordable product. After researching various possibilities, we came to the conclusion that, by outsourcing to China, we are able to produce our product with ~5€/piece, a price significantly lower than our potential competitors.
  5. Potential. Given the constant rise in wireless technological applications, our product has a huge potential in becoming the norm in casual biking. Furthermore, the HandlePal can gain in the future more useful features, such as ride statistics or lighting.

 

What are the weaknesses of your concept?

  1. Power management. The HandlePal, in its current form, works on a coin cell battery, which can be easily changed, but our revised concept (with outsourcing to China) requires an external battery pack, which would make the product bigger a little more expensive.
  2. The production process is quite expensive. If the prototype product were to be produced, it would cost about 30€/piece, making it too expensive for our target group. Moreover, the prototype was 3D printed. While this technology is indeed on the rise, it is still not affordable money-wise and time-wise. However, both these problems could be solved by outsourcing to China.
  3. Software. The current app is below industry standards and does not represent a good alternative for existing music players, even though it has to advantage of being able to connect to our device. Better development or external software integration could be a solution.
  4. Water resistance. Because our product would spend most of its time on a bike and in an outside environment, it is important for it to be water resistant, which our current product isn’t. This matter is in our development plan.

 

What went well regarding the process?

  • The concept was liked by every members of the team, which made it easier for us to brainstorm ideas and develop on the initial vision
  • While the weekly schedule was not followed that tight in the beginning, we managed to pull ourselves together and do everything we had decided on
  • The teammates were easy to work with and we all learnt and built on the feedback and criticism provided

 

What could have gone better?

  • While overall the tasks were delivered on time, there were some situations where it would have been beneficial to finish everything before the deadline
  • The development process was a little bit tough to finish in the last 2 weeks, so it would have been better if we had managed to have a less stressful ending part

 

My role in the team

While the other individual post stated that my learning goals were mostly related to the audiovisual field, I liked the concept very much, so I decided to focus on the programming part (alongside Guohai), which is mentioned in the post, but to a lesser extent. During these 8 weeks, I have developed a music player app for Android using Android Studio and I have implemented the User Interface that Guohai designed for the app.

 

However, in the last 2 weeks, I have modeled the current prototype (since Paul had a tight, overlapping schedule, while mine was not) and I have filmed and edited the video for our Kickstarter page, which was part of my learning goals.

REFLECTION – Qu

What are the strengths of our concept?

 

  1. Uniqueness: Our product Handle-pal is very unique. During the process of searching for Competitors, we didn’t find any company that produces the same product as us.
  2. Potential: The way our product works is by sending data from Handle-pal to the smartphone. Then the phone decides what to do with those data. In the later on development, this concept can be Expanded to other functions that are useful while biking such as control the lighting, electrical horn and monitoring the distance the user has traveled.
  3. Safety: Listen to music while riding bike can be dangerous, but we can’t force those people who do to change their behavior, which means that they can’t listen to music while biking. Our approach to this is to reduce the possibility of causing those accidents by placing Handle-Pal on the handle, this way the biker doesn’t need to lift their hand off the handle, but they still have full control over the songs and volumes etc.
  4. Price: The potential consumer for this product are young adults, the majority of them doesn’t have too much money to spend on leisure products, such as our product. The solution we have for them is to create a device to connect with their smartphone, which they already have one. This way the consumer doesn’t have to spend extra money for the overlapping function that’s already provided by the smartphone. The physical product can be produced within 5 EUR / piece (everything included) by outsourcing to china. which means our target group would be able to get that product with a very Low price.
  5. Sound Quality: Fact is cable headphone has better sound quality than Bluetooth. Bluetooth is more flexible than cable headphones. With handle-pal, the user will be able to have the sound quality of cable headphone and the flexibility of Bluetooth headphone while biking.
  6. Save touch screen: In some cases, the touch screen does not work as we want it to. For example, It’s raining and you don’t want the phone to get wet and cause water damage to the smartphone. There is where Handle pal comes in handy, It gives the user full control of the smartphones by acting as a remote to you smartphone.

 

 

What are the weaknesses of our concept?

  1. Placement: The placement of handle-pal is right next to the bell on the handle. The downside of this is it can be hard to reach with the bell in between the hand and the handle pal. In the later on development, we will improve this issue by redesigning the handle-pal to make it easier and more natural for the user to interact with.
  2. Waterproof: This version of our product does not have waterproof material, but that is on our development plan, to make handle pal waterproof.
  3. Battery slot: Our product handle-pal needs a coin cell battery, This version of handle pal does not include a battery slot. If the user would like to change the battery, They will have to open the case and put it on the board.
  4. production: The case of handle pal is made by 3D printing. It’s exciting new technology but in the production perspective, it takes too much time to print one case. In the future, if we proceed to mass production module injection would be a better and faster solution.
  5. Material: This version of handle pal need a component called light blue bean, this component costs too much in the production process. On our development plan, we will find the alternative to replace light blue bean with normal BLE that’s imported from china. this way we can reduce 80% of the production cost. This will give us a much bigger profit margin.
  6. Technical: This current version of handle pal connects to the app our team developed, which means that the user can only access the songs in this app. The better option for the develop in the future would connect the handle pal to existing apps such as Spotify or Soundcloud. this way the user will be able to access their own playlist without installing an extra application on their phone.

 

What went well regarding to the process ? 

  1. Concept: In the beginning of the project, we had some difficult time with coming up with ideas that fit everyone’s interest and at the same time it should be a concept that can fit the market’s needs. In the end of brainstorming, we come up with an idea that all of us like and we stick to it even when the process gets more and more difficult in the development stage.
  2. Planning: We planned out when should the technical development be done, when should the design process be finished, same goes with marketing and research process. With a little bit of delay but we more or less deliveries the work in time. The other positive thing is that we come up with a plan B when the process seems to be impossible to achieve. The overall development more or less matches with our planning.
  3. Teamwork: We have a team of five, which is quite a big group. Every one of us has a main focus area of this project. For example, rob’s focus is on visual development and product design, Paul’s focus is on 3D design and 3D printing etc. One of reason is that it helps all of us to build up our portfolio towards the profession we want to do in the future. All the tasks connect with others. For example, rob made the sketch of product design and give it to Paul make 3D model and print. For me, my focus was on visual development, but due to the technical difficulty of this concept, I helped our programmer to do some technical work to make sure the development move on smoothly. It’s also mentioned on the blog.
  4. Team relationship: Over the past eight weeks of the project, our teammates did not have any real negative feeling toward each other. We are able to communicate with each other calmly when there is some unexpected situation happened during the development. The team maintained a healthy working relation from the beginning to the end.
  5. Passionate: After the brainstorming process we had the concept of handle-pal. All the team members liked the concept and we are all passionate about it. We believe this concept is something useful and awesome and ready to put energy to it and make it happen. In the end, we did make it happen, the passion for the concept is one of the key element that we make this concept coming all together.
  6. Adapt feedback: Every week we will go to the lessons and ask feedback from the teacher. We adjusted our team plan and development direction base on the feedback the teachers gave us. Do work that the teacher mentioned to us that we didn’t think of ourselves, for example, the league issues of listening to music while biking in holland. The Profit margin and control the finance input of mass production etc.

 

What could be better regarding to the process ? 

  1. Delivery tasks: We all had times that didn’t deliver the tasks we suppose to delivery from time to time, some people had more of that delay than some people had less. Which caused the delay of the overall development process. In the perspective, we could improve ourselves and put the team on the top of our list. think about the consequence if we don’t deliver the things we supposed to deliver, How important is that task? can that task wait or not. Also, we should inform the teammates if the task can not be delivered in time. Ask help from another team member.
  2. Team meeting: For the team meeting, We mostly see it as a place to discuss what we should do for next week and share the work we did from last week. What we could improve is that prepare some question before the meeting and discuss it with the team. Also this way we could get help from the teacher more effectively.
  3. Stress management: I will take myself as an example for stress management. When I was developing the technical part of handle pal, I had some difficult time with the coding and no one seems to be able to help me with the task. My stress level went very high and in a way make the development process a bit slow. what I could have done is to take one day off without thinking about it and then come back to the work I left. This way I can see the mistakes I made earlier.

 

The value I provided to the team

My original personal learning goal is visual development & concept art. Due to the technical difficulty of the project I switched my focus on the technical aspect instead to help the development move along smoother. Here is the main work I have been working on for the past 8 weeks.

  1. Make the connection between a light blue bean and the smartphone
  2. Design the User interface of the mobile app
  3. Designing the webpage of Kickstarter  link

UI

Testing

What methods are suitable for the concept test?

Based on the target audience of our product, we have the following options for  concept testing methods

  •   Interview — interview people on the street using cameras and microphones
  •   Online – survey
  •   Physical  product testing
  •   Use 360 video camera to record the use of our product

We will interview around 10 people in Enschede center which suit our target group. They need to be traveling by bike and be between 18 and 25 years old.

Link to the target group post

Link to the questionnaire:

What prototype is suitable for the concept test?

3D printed model

For the prototype testing we need to have a physical product, this makes it easier to show the concept to the target group and find potential problems. Using this methods we found problems with our first prototype and came with a new design.

Link to the 3D modeling post:

App prototype

To show the functionality of our product we made an app prototype that responds to the LightBlue bean signal. The app controls the music player and is designed in an easy to use, simplistic way that fits with the style of our product.

link to the app prototype post:

Illustration

To demonstrate possible uses and to attract the target group we used the basic prototype as a basis to design a new, aesthetically pleasing design. This illustration will be used to promote the product and make the usage clear.

Link to the illustration post:

What test persons will be selected for the test?

  • youngsters aged between 18 -25
  • Bikers on the street
  • People who are wearing earphones on the street

 

What conclusions will you draw from the test?

Things that people like
  • Design. :  It’s small and portable, can be carried around easily.  //
  • functionalities : It’s easy to understand what to do with the product .//
Things that people dislike
  • Design. :    The edges are too shape , maybe it can cut my hands when i use it . //.   the surface of the product can be a little more smooth.

 

functionalities :  Not enough functions for the price of the product .

 

What are the consequences of the conclusions of the concept?

This product has potential because a lot of people had mostly positive feedback from the interview and survey. However, for the product to be successful in the market we need to change certain aspects, like the shape, corners and add extra functionality to make it fit with the price.

Development – Tudor

What methods and techniques will you use to develop the final concept? What prototype will you develop?

I believe these questions can be answered together.

As it can be seen in this blog post, we are using 3D printing in order to create the outer shell of our media controller device. This device will be placed on the handlebar of the bike, will communicate with the smartphone it’s paired with and will act as a controller for your media, mostly while you are biking.

We are using the LightBlue Bean (LBB) in order to communicate with the smartphone via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). A more detailed blog post can be found here.

 

Knowledge Analysis – Tudor

On what topics do you need information to develop the final concept?

I will take Guohai’s UI research and make it into the actual music player that I worked on.

What sources will you use?

I will mostly use YouTube and StackOverflow for tutorials and troubleshooting.

 

Process

Given that I already implemented the functions needed for the UI, I need to familiarize with the UI-related tools in Android Studio. For that, I will watch tutorials that are relevant to the end goal.

 

Result

After watching this tutorial and troubleshooting various issues that have occured during the process, I managed to make the Android app look like the chosen UI.

Price matters

One of the main features of our product is the low price it can be bought at. I will try to make an accurate guess regarding the production costs for one piece, but there will still be room for doubt.

 

The main, physical components of the product are:

  • LightBlue Bean
  • LightBlue Bean components (buttons)
  • Outer shell
  • Bicycle support ring

 

  1. LBB – ~22€ – On the official site, 500 Beans can be purchased for $24/Bean, excluding transport.
  2. LBB components – <1€ – The buttons are very cheap, so they should not cost much.
  3. Outer shell – 3€ – for this part, there could be 2 options: moulded and printed.
  4. Bicycle support ring – <1€ – The same as the buttons.

The outer shell price is variable because of the two methods that can be used: moulding and printing.

Injection moulding is the industry standard, thus easily and pretty affordable on a large scale. Using a cost calculator, the estimated cost of one piece would be ~1,4€, when making 10000 pieces, as seen in the image below.

However, given the rise of 3D printing, this technology can be an alternate solution. One of our prototypes costed 30€ and had a total volume of ~250 cm^3. The model on which the costs above are calculated has a volume of ~60 cm^3. Some simple calculus shows the fact that it would cost ~4€/piece, which is more expensive than injection moulding. However, we could offer the possibility (via a license) for our customers to print the product with their own 3D printers, thus saving us production costs.

 

Total: 26€ + transport + putting everything together = ~30-35€/piece.

For 30€/piece, we would sell it to retailers at 50€/piece.

 

Alternatives:

1) No outsourcing

If we choose to keep the assembly process inside Europe, the LBB alternatives that I found are the Bluefruit EZ-Key, the RN42 Bluetooth Module and the HC-05 Bluetooth Module. The latter is not HID (Human interface device) capable. While the first two are HID capable and could represent an alternative for the LightBlue Bean, they need to be powered by an external battery pack, which would increase the space and prices needed for producing our product.

 

While cheaper than the LBB, the costs of both are still ~20€/piece.

 

 

2) Outsourcing

Another possibility would be buying and assembling everything in China and then transporting everything to the Netherlands. For the components, the prices would be the following:

Bluetooth module: 3€/piece

Mould injection: 0.16€/piece

Buttons + support: <0.5€/piece

TOTAL price of components: ~4€/piece

 

As far as transportation goes, there are two methods: sea shipping and air freight. In both cases, we assume that one piece weights ~100g and has a volume of ~150cm3.

 

1 Sea shipping

Transport cost for a Full Container Load (FCL) (~224 000 pieces): ~1400€

Various charges: ~750€

Total: Given that the production costs of 224000 pieces is 896000€ (significantly higher than the other expenses), we can approximate that transportation = ~4€/piece.

 

2 Air freight

The volume of 10 000 pieces = 1.5m3. At 100g/piece, the total weight is 1000kg. Taking a volumetric factor of 200, the volumetric weight is 1.5*200 = 300kg, thus the actual weight is applied in the calculations.

At a rate of 4.5€/kg, the total transportation costs are 4500€ / 10 000 pieces = 0.45€/piece.

Total: 4+0.45+0.5=5€/piece.

Development concept – Tudor

Overview

Although my initial part was to find ways of communicating to/from LLB, my task has shifted into porting Guohai’s work to Android, meaning that I have to create a music player app on the Android side.

 

Step #1 – Preparation

For developing the Android app, I settled on Android Studio, which is a pretty beginner-friendly environment. After installing and setting up everything needed (SDKs, emulators, APIs), I started watching tutorials on app creation, especially towards my end goal, an audio player.

 

https://www.lynda.com/Android-tutorials/Welcome/518053/563032-4.html

https://www.lynda.com/Java-tutorials/Welcome/377484/421274-4.html

https://www.lynda.com/XML-tutorials/XML-Essential-Training/145930-4.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZiRJCWpFhE

 

Step #2 – Coding

After gaining some knowledge in Android Studio, I started working on the audio player. The Constraint Layout of the Android Studio makes creating the UI very easy, so I focused more on the functionality of the app. Part of the code is shown below.

 

Test result

 

Troubleshooting

Since Android Studio is a new environment for me, I was bound to run into problems and errors. Thankfully, I managed to find solutions on various sites, mostly StackOverflow and the official Android Studio Developer website.

 

https://developer.android.com/studio/intro/index.html

https://stackoverflow.com/