Iteration 3: Close Phase

Describe the final outcome of your project

  • Deliverables
    • For the project, my final deliverables were…
      • Interactive Eating Plate Final Project
        • 3 Load Cells connected to HX711 load cell amplifiers connected to the arduino providing a weight reading
        • 2 aroma release components which included a small air compressor, aroma capsules, and tubing
        • An LED strip that reacted to weight readings provided by the load cell
        • An LCD screen that communicates to users that the plate is on and load cells are zeroed
      • Final Presentation detailing the project and outcomes
      • Final project demo video detailing how the product works and is used
      • Component Diagrams detailing how the plate is constructed and what hardware is in the plate
      • All of the documentation found on this website
  • Lessons Learned
    • Throughout this project, I learned a lot about working with a sponsor (essentially a client), and the overall design process. Working with the client and meeting every two weeks, I felt a responsibility to be prepared for the meetings and show how the project was coming. I found that it was also important to come to the meeting prepared with specific questions, so that I could get specific feedback. Also, asking the sponsor for more time on certain aspects and also communicating class deadlines to keep them up to date with where the project should be was also very important.
    • As a hardware based project, there were a variety of lessons learned here, especially due to the pandemic. The first was to do extensive hardware research before ordering it. Often, hardware will need other or compatible hardware to work properly. In the future, before ordering anything I would construct my project on paper and read the product description thoroughly. This way, I would not get stuck waiting for parts because I did not order everything necessary. Also, due to COVID and shipping delays, many parts were backordered or I was not able to pick them up in person. For that reason, I found it very important to order extras of certain items in case I broke them. In terms of making appointments with others (laser cutting, user feedback, etc…), it was useful to set the appointment or reach out to make it before I was actually ready for it. For example, when I knew I needed to laser cut on a certain date I would reach out to make the appointment in advance because it takes a little bit of time to set the appointment. If I had waited to set these appointments up until I was physically ready for them, my project would have been repeatedly delayed. Planning in advance was key.
  • Technical Review
    • From a technical standpoint to be durable, accepted by users, and manufactured, the product would have to be made from an injection molded silicone plastic, and not wood. Also, the future plans stated below would make this a dominant product in the world of gamified eating plates. There is currently not a lot of competition on the market, and parents I’ve interviewed have expressed how they believe this interactive eating plate could help engage their young eaters throughout the completion of a meal and introduce them to new foods. The plate would become significantly cheaper to manufacture if the parts were wholesaled as well. Overall, the product would be easier to manufacture with advanced manufacturing techniques, as the 3D models have already been created. It takes a while to create the first functional prototype, but from there, manufacturing more plates and variations of the product become much easier. The base model with the necessary technology has been developed, and is ready for its next stage of development.
  • Future Plans
    • The next steps for this project would be to construct a silicone mat and cover for the plate. This would make the plate more durable, sustainable, and easier for parents to serve meals. The creation of a tupperware like cover for the plate would also increase its transportability when the mat is dirty. For testing, I often used press n seal clear plastic wrap as the mat for the plate.
    • The ability to develop an application system where parents can take pictures of plates, enter foods, and nutritional information is calculated would be a next step with this product.  A key feature would be the ability to see what foods your child is eating the most of and fastest, which could then provide grocery lists for your child.  
    • More LED interactions could be developed to create various engagements with the plate.  There could be timer based games to help with eating pace, and the LED’s could also have certain interactions to match the content being displayed on the LED screen. 
    • There are also use cases for this product with the elderly.  For example in nursing homes, food is served on colorful plates as most residents have lost taste buds with age to make the food look more flavorful.  This product could be adapted to serve the malnutrition seen in elderly populations.

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