Our design process taught us a lot – our ideas changed frequently because of technical constraints and learning curves, leading to a final product that looked quite different from our initial idea.
The main concept hasn’t changed through our process – we’ve known since the conception of this idea, that we want an interactive toy to be triggered when a dog enters a specified room or area in a house, in the hopes that the toy would cause a distraction for the dog and lure them away from, say, a closet full of new shoes.
We began the process hoping to hack an existing toy, like the Lanard Self Bouncing Fusion Ball, but quickly realized that, given our time constraints and what would be a large learning curve, the better route would be to construct a toy from scratch.
Trying to use materials available to us in the HCI lab, we found a spherical lamp shade that would act as our main structure. The hard, hollow material seemed ideal, because it would allow plenty of room for the motors, Arduino board, and breadboard we were using, and would provide protection from a dog’s bite. We planned to fasten the sphere to a base with wheels, and cover the lamp shade with a cloth spiked design, and add padding to make it more appealing to a dog.
Though this structure seemed ideal, we realized that the spherical shape was quite hindering – it prevented us from easily reaching in and tinkering with the delicate hardware. To make accessing our parts easier, we constructed a wire frame with very sturdy wire, and a new cloth cover. The open nature of the frame also allowed us to more easily add LED lights that are visible through our cloth spikes. Lights were something we had wanted to include in the toy’s interactivity, but found restrictions with the lamp shade. The wire frame, however, allows for much more room and access to parts and wires.