Product Development of an Underworld Camcorder- An ‘Eye-Opening’ Experience

From beginning to end this past semester, the product development of the Bat Camcorder challenged us weekly to consider design changes for both function and aesthetics. Now that the effect has been filmed, a finalization of the prototype is continued in the coming weeks for exhibition and live demo-ing. There will be two final iterations- a final iteration of the skin and of the functioning body. Working on this project has definitely been an adventure and learning experience in design, collaboration, engineering, and integrated systems and there have been many lessons to note.

Here are some of the major takeaways and common themes that were seen throughout working on this project:

Lesson #1: Don’t Doubt Initial Designs

This lesson was best learned through our camcorder mechanisms and our end result for both the eyelid and wing mechanism. Throughout the course of our project, the hinge and eyelid were major components to our design that consistently failed iteration after iteration. Some of the initial prototyping designs and ideas were later implemented and proved to be the most effective. For the eyelid, it was a lever mechanism made out of wire and Crystal Gel. For the hinge, it was the use of elastic material to provide tension for the wing screen that worked well. Keeping the initial mechanisms in the time frame that we had allowed us to focus on other parts of the design and integration that were essential to the completion of our project. It is important to realize that if an initial design works for product intent, it may not be necessary to try to continually improve it even though that may seem like the ‘right’ thing to do.

Filmed design with elastic hinge attachment and Crystal Gel eyelid

Lesson # 2: Be Creative with Your Resources

As mentioned in previous posts, this lesson largely came from the ‘skin’ of our product and the Crystal Gel, a coating meant for scenic art, that we were able to use in a different way than intended. Although not all the resources we sought were readily available, we managed to experiment and use our feasible options to complete our project.

Experimentation and application of Crystal Gel as product ‘skin’

Lesson # 3: Failing is Progress

This past semester was about iterative design in which failure was required to keep moving forward. Each iteration was a failure in it’s own way but we were able to learn and discuss together what our next steps would be. This was especially important for us to be able to try new ideas and experiment with tangible results. This allowed us to continually learn which designs worked and which ones didn’t.

All in all, having gone through what I would describe as a design SPRINT, our product outcome is a result of rapid iterative design that utilized rapid prototyping and collaboration between a diverse team of student designers. None of which would have been possible without the support of our amazing instructors , the Longhorn Maker Studio, and helpful classmates. These lessons and experiences are going to move forward with us throughout the rest of our careers and beyond. ☆

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