This is our kickstarter page which contains the information about our product
What are the strengths of your concept?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- LBB – ~22€ – On the official site, 500 Beans can be purchased for $24/Bean, excluding transport.
- LBB components – <1€ – The buttons are very cheap, so they should not cost much.
- Outer shell – 3€ – for this part, there could be 2 options: moulded and printed.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.