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Connecting07: Rethinking Product Design: Why We Can't Wait

Jim Couch

Design process hasn't changed in several decades. Design has continued to strive for credibility, but until everyone on the street understands what designers do (the same way architects are known), we will lag behind. We can't design as well as nature, however much we try.

Sustainability: are we really fooling ourselves? When we do the same thing we do the same things we've been doing for decades?

Within the next century..."our intelligence will become increasingly non-biological" "the union of human and machine" "greater than human, non-biological intelligence drives progress"- Ray Kurzweil

Big Idea #1 The Pace of Change is Accelerating Exponentially We're at the knee of the curve. Coming up on an era of radical change.

Big Idea #2 Moore's Law Will Continue

Big Idea #3 Rate of Technology Adoption is Doubling Every Decade See a century of progress in 25 years. The next hundred years will witness a growth of progress of 200 centuries.

Big Idea #4 By 2020, Computers with the Computational Power of Human Brains
We will become vastly smarter. ALL products will contain computational power.

What role will we play in this world? The computer isn't just a tool, it is a member of the design team.

Analytical Tools for Design Inspiration

Topology Optimization
Branch of mathematics that is about space. Can optimize the use of space. Instead of designing the part, design the space. Apply parameters, constraints, and compute. Then you interpret the results. Does more using less stuff.

This challenges classic design principles.

Define non-design spaces (connections where you don't want space defined by the program). Computer comes up with the most proficient use of materials that still meet the performance requirements.

Then design refinement. The design is a combination of human and machine. It's a better tool to design appropriate, more sustainable products. Puts material only where it is needed. We see products as solid masses--it's how we've been trained. But we need to think like nature: at a cellular level.

Work with engineers in refining the design proposal. First, a topology optimization. Then translate the design into different form languages that relates to client's brand.

Solutions are created that the designer wouldn't have thought of AND are structurally superior.

Stochastic Modeling
Random form generation that creates unpredictable results.

We still sketch and visualize. Create "seed shapes." Create constraints and run the program to create new variations.

You can put curves or brand elements in as a parameter of all designs.

Whole purpose is to create shapes and forms we normally wouldn't think of.

We should be more enthused by math.The only way we could replicate nature was to mimic nature. Now, we can create parts that are grown like within nature.

Architects are already embracing these kinds of techniques.

We pride ourselves that a computer cannot replicate the creative aspects of a designer. But this is a completely false assumption. We can optimize beauty: golden circle, etc. could be parameter.

The question isn't whether we'll be part of this (r)evolution--we will--but whether we'll be able to embrace it enthusiastically.

Q: How do we optimize for usability?
A: Could apply cognitive and ergonomic data as constraints. You could design for specific people's hands.

Q: If you don't get those parameters right, the results will be awful. Results might not make sense if you lean too much on the software.
A: Our inputs can be flawed too. This isn't a substitute for traditional methods, just an enhancement.

Originally posted at Friday, October 19, 2007 | Comments (1) | Trackback (0)

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Connecting07: Medical Device Design: 10 Things You Need to Know
Ted Kucklick "A nuts and bolts talk" Medical devices are a hot area, along with sustainable design. C.P. Snow: The Two Cultures #1 You have to start with a need. Especially true in medical device. Have to keep the... ...

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