Hugh, Pedro, Ethan, Miranda
Flask is an intelligent beverage container that interacts with the International Space Station. It allows the user to experience the excitement of space exploration through their bottle. Using the cloud network, Flask is constantly aware of the ISS’s location and relays that information to the user through the use of an LED ring.We decided we wanted to make something fun, that had a less serious tone than other projects we’ve undertaken in previous years. Thus, Flask was born. The idea was made to connect to completely unrelated areas: beverage consumption and the International Space Station. The idea formed into an intelligent bottle that displays the ISS’s location on a compass-like ring of lights. Anyone could use Flask, but it’s geared towards the “ThinkGeek” type of consumer.
User Testing Materials
NASA Parts List Part ID Count Cost Cost + Tax Cost (group)
3x Particle Photon Wifi Dev Module $64.41
4x ‘4X6cm Prototyping Board’ $6.67
4x neopixel ring $42.94
4x Plastic Flask $40.00
TOTAL COST (INDIVIDUAL) $41.06
TOTAL COST (GROUP) $164.22
We began with the simple mathematics behind tracking the actual space station. During this time, from prior projects, we knew of tools that previously existed in terms of technology that could help this project come together. We moved from this to a quick decision about the form factor. We settled on it being a flask.
It was at this stage that we decided on using the Photon, using a Bottle, and having the tracking of the ISS in place as a core element to the tool.
Using the photon proved frustrating to use as we attempted further with the code, but luckily the early-made decisions about the form factors allowed other members of the team to get working on the different aspects of this project.
Depicted above are the elementary stages someone goes through to initialize the particle photon; the first step in relation to preparing for Internet of Things.
The development of the tool went quickly after the photon micro controllers arrived
we got right to prototyping the bottle. These pictures are part of the instructable on Nasaflask.
- Fill canteens with water. Make sure the prototypes are in their casings.
- Do you need extra batteries?
- No, just bring the lithium ion battery.
In-Class User Testing – Testing By Classmates
- Set up canteens, allow users to form their own first impressions on what the device appears to be/do.
Field Testing – You testing your own device.
User testing our object was unique in the fact that there is little input from the user. It is more of a static object that changes over time. I found that people were intrigued by the form as I used it, and wanted to know what it was. This curiosity is good and bad. While people wanted to know what it did, they couldn’t tell what it did until I explained it to them. I think the learnability and accessibility of an object is important and I think it was lacking in our product when we tested it. Stickers, instructions or even logo imagery could have helped the accessibility. Users enjoyed watching the lights change but after the first couple times, they lost interest. Adding an interactive feature I think could greatly reduce boredom in the user and extend the lifespan of the product. Users suggested that the product be sold on Thinkgeek or similar sites. Our product concept was validated by the users. Most of the critiques came about from our execution.
Testing periods: Saturday and Sunday, 1-9pm
Notes about Canteen user testing:
- Seems much too large, not comfortable to carry around for long periods of time. Could be a household item, but still would be much better to make it a lot smaller.
- Common consensus is that the idea is “neat”, “fun” and “entertaining”.
- People liked the lights, wanted a more sleek design
- It felt too fragile over long periods of time; I was always conscious of the fact that I had it with me and if a certain way I moved my bag would screw with the electronics.
- Most younger people liked the idea, as well as the older, “parent” aged group I asked. A lot of people said that it was the type of thing they’d see on ThinkGeek.
- Most people said that the actual bottle wasn’t good quality enough to warrant the price that would cover our costs. Plastic just doesn’t seem to translate into an idea of “high quality”, even though the plastic is thick.
- The bottom compartment seems too squishy; it doesn’t stand up well on its own at all which means you constantly have to lie it on its side, making it very difficult to see the light.
- Most people had no idea what it did based on first appearances, and they all said that having more space-centered design on the bottle would help add to the “fun” factor as well as making the bottle more easily understood.
- “As long as it happens semi-often it’s a cool idea”
- “I like it as a reminder to drink water, when I’m so busy I forget.”
- “It would definitely sell, people love that kind of shit now.”
- “Super unique.”
- “It’s fun! Wish it was a bit smaller.”
- “It would need to come with instructions to explain how it works, because I have no clue what this thing does.”
General Consensus/Things Learned
- The bottle is far too large, and the design of the device is too bulky.
- Most people don’t want a plastic-based water bottle.
- The idea intrigues many and most people that tested it out thought it was fun and interesting.
- Best marketed towards the “ThinkGeek” consumer crowd.
- Battery is seemingly sufficient
- After the in-class user testing, our team looked at the google form findings and discussed possible changes we could make to the flask within our time limit.
- After the field testing, our team came together to talk about our findings and again discuss what issues were possible to act upon within the time limit we had before final iterations.
- We decided to take some of our google form data and add it to our presentation, so as to allow the class to better understand why some changes were made between the user testing form they experienced and the final form we had.
Questions for testers:
- When first presented, is it obvious what the object does?
- Once in your hand is it intuitive to use?
- Do you feel like you want to interact with the object? If not, why?
- What context would you use this device in?
- Is this device aesthetically pleasing?
- How does the object make you feel when you use it?
- What would you change about the device?
- What appeals to you most about the device?
- Would you purchase this product? What price point do you think is reasonable for this product?
- The data collected from the survey should be available using the Google Form survey, if there’s an issue accessing it, let me know and I can try to fix it. I’ve never had to share a result before, but I did click the box that said anyone answering the survey can see the result? So you may have to add answers into the fields and then it displays the results.
- references & related works
- any references / support materials used for the project
- references to related articles, papers, projects, or other work that provide context for your project. Write about the relationship between your project and these references
2 hours – Decided to write an update on the second hour then every four hours after this update. Well the flask has been on for a bit now and the lights come on for a few minutes then turn off for a longer time, this has sort of a meditational effect on me right now but I’m not sure how it will change.
4 hours – Four hours have passed and the blinking lights of the bottle don’t seem to bother me, but I do wish there was some sort of communication every time the lights turned on to tell me. I feel like that would make this product more interactive in many ways if that is a part of it. But all things considered, the battery still doing fine and LED ring still not burned out.
8 hours – After 8 hours the bottle became background notifications I could see that the lights showing and when they were showing and they did not seem to bother me nearly as much as earlier on when I was not used to the blinking lights. Battery still holding fine and I think I’m going to start taking a drink of water from the bottle when it blinks. Battery still holding and LED still not burned out, as well as structurally the bottle is still holding.
12 hours – At the end of the 12 hours of user testing there are some observations I do have to make, one of them is that user experience changed drastically for the better if I did take a drying every time it blinked and that it was not only more interactive but I cared much more for it and wished the lights changed every time I did take a drink.
Battery and hardware wise it held perfectly and being one of the programmers I would change a lot of things after this user testing on the code. It was fairly accurate only losing the ISS during the end of the testing did it desynchronize with the orbit. Summary of User Testing This user testing was about answering questions of accuracy and strength of the machine but it wielded much more to look over and consider.
The fact of the flask losing accuracy over time and the user needing extra incentive to start using the machine as a bottle were the main ones I found. Though it did do very well for 12 hours straight it was a very bright cold light blinking and I do wish now that we had changed it to something that either change light color or are a warmer color as it reaches your location. It still functions very well as a driving game and has great potential for kids and schools to learn and teach younger kids more about space and stellar bodies.
The battery lasted for the whole testing and looks like it is still for 24 hours after so recharging might be necessary every 3-4 days of usage, the actual components of the Flask are still intact and compact enough so that everything is not a burden to carry around. All in all, it is a very good design, however, there are minor changes in the algorithm that I do have to make so that accuracy does not slowly desynchronize over time, and that is something with my math more than anything.
It was a fun product to have around the house and I would totally buy it if I I saw it online but not in the form it is now it would have to be more compact and better looking with the entire system built into the bottle.
In conclusion, the premise behind the device was interesting to users, but the execution could be improved upon. Many people wanted the Flask to have more visual cues, as it was hard to know the connection between the Flask and its technology upon first look. In addition to that, because most issues were with design, the actual build of the Flask would have to be drastically improved in further iterations. Most people felt that the plastic bottle composition did not translate into a “quality” feel. The bottle itself was also much too large for day-to-day use, and would have to be made more compact. The electronics themselves need to be secured more permanently, and downsized as well. Overall, the major problems were size and design factors. There would also have to be a change in materials in terms of the microcontroller, as we found that the Photon could not handle the code for what was necessary to make the device successful.
What we would do in our next steps is move towards a metal material and to solidify the software so that the device remains accurate. We want to integrate some design factors that can inform the user what they are using and how it works. Ideally we would want to produce a product that feels worth fifty dollars, as opposed to the overall 20 dollar price point that people expected to pay.
The best parts that worked for us was the sleekness and overall design, but the overall design got in the way of the clear use that should be depicted on the object.
Hugh, Pedro, Ethan, Miranda