Sunday, November 7, 2010

More Thesis Ideas

I'm still not satisfied with my current thesis ideas, though I am still exploring them. I am still pushing for something more focused and innovative that can be utilized in a practical way.

Wouldn't it be convenient if every time you put in a load of laundry at a laundromat you  got one of those pagers they give you at a busy restaurant so you know exactly when the load is finished? Too bad that would be highly impractical and expensive. My floor of the dorm has a laundry room with two washers and two dryers. There is rarely a back up unless I find myself in desperate need of clean clothes at a busy time of day. I sat on a washer Friday afternoon, reading an iBook and waiting patiently for the young lady to return for her underwear that had finished drying some time ago. She never showed and when my second load was finished washing thirty-five minutes later, I had to remove her clothes from the dryer and start mine (an hour later, when I was finished drying, she still hadn't come for her underwear). I always use the alarm on my cell phone to time my laundry in a comunal situation, which could be problematic for people who havent been doing their own laundry for very long, as the washers in our dorm dont have a timer. Because my iPhone has changed the way I do so many other things in my life, and because I was reading a book on my iPhone at the moment, it occurred to me that it holds potential for a solution. I have found apps that help you time your laundry, and there is an app that helps you understand how to do your laundry, but there is nothing that can connect you directly to the machine. So would it be possible to install a bluetooth device in existing machines that you sync your phone with and it automatically alerts you when your load is done? Then you wouldn't even have to remember to set the timer. Or would it be possible to connect the machines to a wireless network so that you could get an app that would let you see the status of every machine in the laundromat? Then you could determine who long it would be before a machine is free before you even leave your house, or even how busy the laundromat is at a particular time of day, essentially building a virtual laundromat on your mobile device. The obstacle would be profitability versus demand. This may be better suited for  a model of a new kind of laundromat or a new product feature.

There is a problem here in the VCD department that I have heard restated over and over among some teachers and that I have even observed first hand. Apparently it's nearly impossible to engage freshmen in the learning processes and get them to be excited and involved in their classes. The joke that is repeated is that you have to take off your shirt and dance around the front of the room to get a laugh out of them, then they will keep showing up for class just to see what sort of crazy thing you will do next. I have a particular interest in design students in early development and, while I do like the idea of making a room full of people laugh, I wonder if there isn't a more dignified (if not systematic) way of achieving results. This is a problem that I have never really considered before. At USC students don't enter the design program until their sophomore year and they have gone through studio classes in other disciplines by then, so it isn't an issue. We have a professor here at Kent named Jerry Kalback who is a savant of college education. Even he can be perplexed by how to engage the freshman and that is a good sign that I wouldn't be capable of cracking this case, but if I could even gain a better grasp of the problem it could have long reaching effects on my carrier.

Unrelated visual aid:

To supplement my growing, winter weather arsenal
I have purchased a pair of snow chains for my boots.


  1. That laundromat idea sounds great, but it probably wouldn't work quite as well in places like Columbia because the people who tend to use laundromats are generally...less well-off (?) and probably don't have the ability to use such technology to their advantage. But I would imagine that in bigger urban cities it was work really well because there's certainly more middle-class people (with computers and iphones) who use laundromats.

    Instilling a passion for design in freshman who hardly know what it is sounds like quite a challenge. However, I think that's a really interesting idea to research and the results could be used in any field of learning, so it would have a broad appeal.

    As for your packaging, I don't really like it. You need to work on the hierarchy. Are they called Yaktrax or Pros? And perhaps consider a different typeface. It's just... boring. I think this is your worst idea yet.

  2. Kevin,

    In response to your critique of my package design I wish to remind you that I am a graduate student and the possibility does exist that the concept is simply over your head.

    Again, thank you for reading this and offering your feedback. I think that working to engage new students may be the most viable thesis idea that I have had, but I need to consult some people who are smarter than I am.