Week 5: Project Definition

Posted on: Tuesday, October 9, 2007

This week consisted of evaluating the current state of our project and considering the future direction of the team. Inherent in these steps are the consideration of elements such as: target users, goals, and scope. Evidently, these evaluations have allowed our team to better define our project.

Project Scope, Goals and Assumptions
I. Define Project

Project Plan:

Wk8 additional research for participatory workshop

  • Planning tasks for usability testing
  • Creating workable prototype [interface]
  • Sketching detailed schematics
  • Preparation of consent forms

Wk9 criteria for user testing

  • Creating questionnaires for users
  • Continuation of tasks from week 8

Wk10 participatory workshop with users

  • Conducting user testing with prototype and questionnaires
  • Gathering comments and suggestions from test participants
  • Documentation of testing process and user observation

Wk11 implementation phase’

  • Analysis and evaluation of results
  • Applying results to conceptual design
  • Finalize design

Wk12 FLEX week

  • Troubleshooting conceptual flaws
  • Preparing components list for prototyping
  • Documentation of technical aspects

Wk13 Finalize Content – End of the Semester

  • Create process book detailing project documentation


  • Testing of Arduino
  • Testing LED lights
  • Testing water pump

“Sustain-a-Stack is eco-friendly furniture, designed to stylize one’s home, improve air quality, and renew cramped living spaces.

The project is divided into two components: the physical and the digital.

Our project’s physical framework is defined in the following ways:

  • Lighting
    • LEDs
    • Color
    • Amount
    • Arrangement

  • Temperature
    • Monitor/Control
    • Ventilation
    • Air Flow
    • Minimize Condensation
  • Water Distribution
    • Physical (Hand water)
    • Pump
    • Aeroponics
    • Drainage
  • Structure
    • Shape
    • Size
    • Aesthetic
    • Design

II. Identify your product’s end users

What people or positions will be most affected by this project?

  • Condo owners/High-rise dwellers/Seniors
  • Those without gardens

Who will be required to operate it?

  • Computer/laptop owners
  • Power outlet

How many people will be affected by the project?

  • Households (smaller)
  • Upper class

What are their current levels of skill in operating this technology?

  • Basic technical/computer knowledge

What training, if any, will they require?

  • Brief instruction manual detailing assembly, software installation and maintenance

What team support will they need to keep using the product?

  • None (perhaps reminders)

What are their attitudes toward this change?

  • Enhanced living atmosphere
  • Maximized space

What can the team or organization do to alleviate their concerns?

  • Various periods for user testing

Conclusion on your end users

  • Users will be homeowners who can operate a computer with an appreciation of aesthetics and concern for the environment

III. Establish your project’s goals


What is the need for your product?

  • Storage
  • Easy plant maintenance
  • Purified air

How will this product make people’s lives easier?
• Storage/space conservation
• Time saving

How will it help fill the niche you are aiming for?
• Chic/appealing
• Design/aesthetics
• Lifestyle
• Environment-friendly

What are the benefits of having such a product?
• Storage/space conservation
• Time saving
• Purified air in the home

IV. Discuss what assumptions you need to make before developing your project


On Values:
• Will and in what way the users will feel fun, enjoyment or convenience to have your product • Tranquil experience
• Space conservation
• Aesthetics
• Ambient vs. immersive

On Technology:
• What domain of technology will this project belong to?
• Will the project require technical innovation in certain way or special skills?
• How challenging will the technology in question be?
• Will require electronics and programming skills
• Will focus on gathering information from the environment, transferring this to the laptop and managing the information for changes.

On Resources:
• How much of the technical challenge can be tackled by your team’s expertise?
• Will you need any outside help and will it be available?
• Will the materials and equipment be available or can be ordered?
• All technical aspects will be handled by the team
• Help will be available if we need advising
• Hardware store, nursery, electronics store

On cost and risk:
• Is information available for estimating the cost of the project?
• Is there any concern on cost?
• Will a reasonable budget be available?
• What risks have been identified, and are they allowed?
• LEDs (Lee’s Electronics)
• Glass/plexiglass, wood, plastic (Home Depot) > could be costly
• Power tools

On time:
• Will team members be available when required?
• How many hours/week can you expect from each of your team members?
• Division of team into 2 parties each meeting at separate times and combining work during a general meeting
• 20 hrs/week

On project scope:
• Would you be able to identify the boundary of your project scope?
• What are the in-scope items?
• What are the out-of-scope items? In scope:
• Temperature (monitoring)
• Light (on/off)
• Watering
• Storage
• Plant growth

Out of scope:
• Heating


1. Project Expectations

As a result of this project, homeowners will be able to grow plants and keep small pets with an relatively low degree of maintenance. This will be encouraged through the use of laptops to control and monitor certain aspects of the environment. This environment is structured in the form of a stackable shelves (the base containing power/water sources) consisting of transparent cubes wherein users can configure the needs of their environment, which may include general storage. Above the base is a table-like platform, on which one can place books, laptops, newspapers, etc.

2. Feedback strategies

Members/users (during testing) can simply bring up issues as they arise. Our progress will be measured by how much more information we gather week by week in finalizing our concept for the product.

3. Your skills for your team

Sammy Troubleshooter manager/researcher
Kurtis Cross-Dresser documentation/ prototyper
Brian Iconoclast programmer
Katrina Pulse-Taker documentation/researcher
Derek Visionary prototyper
Andrew Entrepreneur (rapid) prototyper
Manuel Technologist interface designer

4. Appropriate team behaviors

Members must attend all meetings or give prior notice if one will be absent. Absentees will be responsible for keeping themselves updated on the meetings missed. Before the meetings, members must come ready with materials and research.

5. Team decision-making methods

I) Individuals raise concerns
II) Teammates react/respond
III) If conflict, seek compromise
IV) Last, vote through majority

6. Team Management: Time Allocation

Delegating tasks equally with set deadlines during weekly meetings