Simply put an active form is a tangible user interface (TUI) that couples action and reaction in a single modality. This coupling is achieved by eliminating the distinction between input and output. The active form is physically deformed by the user and change both shape and appearance and similarly it is deformed as output feedback. The deformation, thanks to the coupling is on the same aspect of the device (i.e. change of shape, temperature, colour...).
Active Forms is one of my research topics and therefore the outcome of this project will form part of a publication. You might be invited to co-author a paper on your project
You will be driven by on of these objectives: usability, efficiency, objectivity or value. For the interim presentation you will focus on one objective, for the final presentation you will combine two focus. It is important that you choose one of these focus and clearly adopt it in your design as this will form a case study as part of a research project on innovation that I am currently running.
Usability & ingenious Integration
You will focus on addressing the needs of the user, combining usability, aesthetic and technology in your design. You will innovatory delivering novelty and a better product.
Efficiency & closeness to specifications
You will apply formal knowledge in the optimised design of the active form delivering efficiency and effectiveness. Your design approach will be structured, ordered and methodical. You will innovate thanks to your optimisation.
Objectivity & thoroughness
It is about translating a natural phenomenon in an explicit, rigorous and objective way. You will rely on knowledge about natural phenomena, adopting a design that is methodical and objective. You will innovate thanks to the hypothesis you will postulate and how you will test it.
Value & user reaction
You will rely on an interpretation and representation of aesthetic and experience to produce the active form. You will be concerned with the representation of the reality that surrounds us in your own individual way. You will seek to produce artefacts of value (one of the main criteria will be mercantile value). You will innovate thanks to the techniques, style and genre used.
1) Needs to combine usability, aesthetics and technology to address the needs of the user.
2) Must be novel and be an improvement on a product.
3) Must be focused on one of the four design styles; iPhone, Philippe Starck, Surrealism and Modernism.
4) Must be a metaphor.
5) Must be simple to use.
6) Must have both a physical input and output.
7) Must be interactive with change — i.e. must change shape, colour, form, size, temperature or any other physical aspects.
8) Has to be aesthetically pleasing and ornamental.
9) Must be designed for domestic use.
10)  Our design must use solar energy to power the product.
Usability Testing is one of the most important factors of new product design. whilst designing and after the creation of a product, it is very important to verify that when the product goes through human interaction, that it is achieving their objective or goal.
It is often very important to test the usability of a product among people of different ages, genders and demographics. The main goal of usability is to make sure the product can be used as intended and so usability testing should be used through out the designing of our product to ensure there is not a design flaw in our product.
Also, usability testing allows designers to improve upon their design. If someone is interacting with a product in a way that is unanticipated, but could contribute to the improvement of the product, putting that through usability testing is a great way to discover these little changes or improvements. It’s also a great way to see what does not work and eliminate potential problems.
Initial concepts...
Further Research into stems and flower heads then resulted into looking at different kinds of flowers for design concepts.
Our Logo Design
Design Development
Initial Prototypes
Final Design idea
Here are a few views of how we made our CAD prototyple.
Justification of Design Choices
Our final product was a solar powered phone charger, Solis. It was designed to be an active form and so this meant it had to be physically deformed by the user and change both shape and appearance. Similarly it is deformed as output feedback (i.e. change of shape, temperature, colour...). Solis took on the form of a flower and the idea was that when the phone was connected to the base via USB and the user had touched the leaf to activate it, the flower head would then open gradually revealing the solar panels on the petals. The main idea behind our product was to create an alternative product to charge your phone, whilst also to saving money on electricity bills.
We looked at different flower formations that we could base out product around, but then we came to the decision to combine the aesthetics of a variety of different flowers. We then combined this with the design styles of modernism and looked at natural forms to create initial designs. This then went onto design development of our product and that’s when we created Solis. We chose to go with these design styles as we wanted our product to stand out from the current energy saving market; we wanted them to be easy to use, modern, affordable and attractive.
In terms of usability we wanted our product to be simple to use, whilst still being aesthetically pleasing. So when designing we have focused on addressing the needs of the user without over complicating the design, combining usability, aesthetics and technology into the design.
Finally, we chose to design a solar powered charger as we found:
·         Solar power is a renewable and natural resource.
·        Light and energy from the sun costs nothing. Once you purchase the equipment to collect and convert energy from the sun, it costs you nothing to run.
·         Solar cells require little maintenance.
·         Solar cells can last a lifetime.
·         Solar power is silent.
So charging a phone via solar power would save a lot of money in the long run.