Braino

Braino is a device, which allows a person to erase up to their last five memories. This project allowed students to have fun and be creative working with a design concept rooted in speculative sci-fi technology. It also provided us with an introduction to what it might be like to work with a client and their specific requirements.

Project Brief

For this particular assignment, students were asked to create a speculative design for a device that would allow users to remove up to their last five memories or ideas. The goal was to iterate upon the best concept and produce a finished model appearance, where the form would express the function of the object.

Constraints & Requirements

Rendering of the final design

This particular assignment taught me the importance of working with constraints. The physical requirements of this device were to be at least 3/8 of an inch thick and occupy up to a maximum of eight square inches.

 

The “technology” involved required physical contact between the device and the user’s head. Controls of the device were limited to a five-position intensity regulator and an actuator button. The placement of these controls was critical, as they should make the device easy to use but difficult to accidentally change the intensity control.

Additionally, there were restrictions around displays. The device allowed for a small digital screen only for the purposes of displaying battery life and user feedback. Due to cost considerations, the screen could not be capacitive.

Project Information

Class: Foundations

 

Instructor: Haakon Faste

 

Duration: Two and a half weeks

 

Key Skills: Physical prototyping, storyboarding, sketching

 

Materials: Acrylic, high-density modeling foam, LEDs, paint, and wood

Tools: Adobe Illustrator, drill press, hole saw, milling machine, router, and sander

 

Project Role: Individual project

Deliverables

  • A final fabricated model

  • Printed renderings of final design

Final Design

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Initial Sketches

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Storyboard

01
01

Derek has been smoking since he was a teen.

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02
02

One day while jogging, he notices he's short of breath. It's a wake up call for Derek to quit.

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06
06

Derek has gotten some of his stamina back and is able to enjoy his time outdoors. There are moments when he is tempted, but when he is, he activates Braino and the idea of having a smoke leaves his mind.

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Derek has been smoking since he was a teen.

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Key Takeaways

In addition to learning the importance of working with constraints, I learned the value of generating a large volume of ideas early on in the design process without worrying too much about the fidelity. Getting what's in my head out onto simple sketches made it helpful to refine and iterate. Managing the workload of this project along with all of my other classes was a lesson in prioritizing and allocating the proper amount of time to get the job done. Planning around when the model making studio would be open and when certain machines would be available was a constant battle.

 

At one point in this project, I struggled with figuring out the "right" form for this device. As seen in my initial sketches, many of them looked like variations on the iPod. Once I realized that, I started to get more abstract and took more creative license with my sketches.​

It was very rewarding to see something start off as an idea in the form of a few lines on a piece of paper transform into a tangible object people could pick up and navigate their way through based on some of its affordances.

Process

Milling
Milling

Setting up the milling machine.

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Initial sketch model
Initial sketch model

Sketch models are quick and dirty explorations of what the form might look like.

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Sketch models
Sketch models

These were my initial three sketch models, which were inspired by the iPod mini.

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Foam
Foam

Using the lighter and cheaper foam first to prototype

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More power tools
More power tools
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Accidents happen
Accidents happen

Using putty to cover up an off center counter sink hole for the body.

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The display
The display
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Multiple copies
Multiple copies

When building a final model, it's best practice to make two. If something goes wrong with the first, you'll still have the backup.

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Extra pieces
Extra pieces

But if all goes well, you're left with a lot of extra pieces.

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John Sun

User Experience Designer