With the right push and guidance, students can bring their inventions from ground zero to market. See how these young talents are doing just that. Stephanie Peh reports.
4 January, 2016
Top image: DAX
A crowdfunding class at the National University of Singapore’s Division of Industrial Design takes student teams through a comprehensive design process. Over a span of 12 weeks, the students research, ideate, design, prototype and market a product from scratch. They work towards creating a holistically considered invention to garner support from a worldwide audience through monetary buy-ins to secure production costs.
Titled Launchpad, the class is designed and facilitated by lecturer Donn Koh, who is also a co-founder and design partner at STUCK, a multidisciplinary design company that is built on a spirit of collaboration. Besides working as a team, Koh envisions that the class will train students to look beyond design, and to consider other areas such as marketing or financial management, in order to bring an idea to fruition. “This understanding will help lower the designer’s self-importance, and promote collaboration with different expertise in each of the fields,” says Koh.
“In Launchpad, a project that is not resolved thoroughly will be unlikely to sell, so students have to grapple with balancing real costs and pricing against making the best use of the materials and resources,” he elaborates. The class will require students to consider their products to a professional level of finishing and detailing as they are put up for public critique.
The first two weeks of the class is spent drafting early concepts that will be launched on the web to gauge public interest. “Here they will realise that not all ‘good’ ideas will resonate with people, and not all resonating ideas will create impetus to purchase,” says Koh.
This is followed by six weeks of designing, testing and prototyping, where students consider technical and material feasibility as well as solve manufacturing projects. After which, they start putting together communications and marketing materials.
Here, we take a look at two inventions that were recently funded successfully on Kickstarter:
Sitting all day makes one less productive and can have a negative impact on one’s health. To promote healthy movement, Letitia Lim, Andriana Justine and Poh Hui Qing created LEVIT8, an affordable and portable platform that elevates the working desktop, enabling one to work while standing.
“We wanted a hybrid sit-stand station that would allow us to seamlessly switch between sitting and standing. Something as portable as our laptops, since we use them everywhere,” the team shares. At present, standing desks in the market are expensive, if not large.
Inspired by age-old folding techniques, the trio worked with bookbinding experts and local crafters to devise an accordion mechanism that consists of a single loop of eight triangular panels. This enables the platform to twist to stand, or fold to keep easily. Slim and light, LEVIT8 is portable, and crafted with water-repellent and stain-proof fabric for durability. Watch the video below.
LEVIT8 received a total of US$58,462 through 1,191 backers, surpassing an initial goal of US$4,000.
For the love of great user experiences, Low Joo Tat, Yeo Wan Jun and Jeff Bogue created DAX, a wallet that puts ease and fun into retrieving cards. By pulling on a tab on the wallet, cards pop out of the wallet in a cascading motion. The mechanism created from scratch by the students is also pending patent certification.
DAX combines laser cutting techniques with durable and water-repellent fabrics that were originally meant for industrial usage.
Inspired by an interactivity often found in mobile applications, the students incorporated colours thoughtfully into the overall scheme. The wallet is available in vibrant colours or monochrome shades. Watch the video below.
DAX received a total of US$52,660 through 1,161 backers, surpassing an initial goal of US$4,000.
The above funded projects are currently undergoing production. The teams have gone abroad to work directly with the manufacturer prior to the full-fledge production.
Other noteworthy projects that did not meet their funding goals include 8UP, a no-tech water bottle that simplifies the tracking of one’s hydration, and ZAG, an accessories organiser that doubles up as a laptop stand.
When asked what he aims to achieve with Launchpad, Koh says, “My hope is that with this experience, the students will catch that sense of adventure and develop a habit of putting themselves out there boldly, that carries on even after they graduate.”
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