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Learning through Making: The Prototype

A couple of weeks ago I found myself not knowing how to refine my concept. I had a few ideas:

  1. A mat for working out alone,

  2. A personal training tool,

  3. And finally a mat for the class environment.

Eventually, I settled on idea 1. I decided that the exercise mat would be embedded with LEDs whose tempo of blinking would determine the intensity of the user’s workout. I felt that idea 2 seemed pointless, seeing as the advantage of a personal trainer is interpersonal contact that results in motivation and therefore a tool to facilitate this process would be obsolete. As for the third idea, I found a lot of obstacles while trying to explore it further.

Regarding my chosen idea, I wondered how the user would know to perform specific exercises as well as how the speed of the workout would be regulated with clarity. At that moment I realised that I was dealing with 2 groups of people: Trained individuals and untrained. Osla made it very clear that HIIT is not suitable for beginners as it operates in high-intensity mode; while this is a suitable intensity for highly trained people, it wouldn't be the best mode for the untrained.

To answer my questions, I decided to make a quick prototype to figure out the user experience and carry on with my concept. I gave myself 2 days to make the prototype as I only had 2 weeks to test it, gather data and finally present it in my final concept presentation.

I used an old yoga mat I had at home and laser cut it in the desired size. I then created two half circles using SketchUp and 3D printed the 2 cases where the LEDs would be later placed inside.

SketchUp model

Printed cases

Ideally, I was going to print the cases in a transparent colour but unfortunately, white was the only colour that was available in the lab. I was also going to use led strips but since there weren't any in the lab, I had to use what was available. I placed two blue LEDs at the end of each case but the light wasn't strong enough to go through the whole case. That's how I came up with the idea of using clear acrylic. By placing it in-between the 2 LEDs, its refractive qualities ensured that the light went from one end to the other, lighting up the whole case.

Clear Acrylic

After the wiring was done I was finally able to assemble everything together. The result looked something like this:

See my next post for the user experience.