Blog Post 4

Based on the feedback from our first usability assessment, we created a new design. We’re keeping the best parts of the original design (the storage shelves, desk space, and multi-functionality) and changing the worst parts (the too manual and heavy lifting process for transitioning between desk states).

At first we thought about using a pump shaft, like one of these:

You know, like you see at a hair salon? But instead of applying it to a chair, the user would pump up the desk.

We consulted with the wise and experienced lab managers at Bray Laboratory, and they thought the idea was cool but suggested a simpler mechanism: telescoping shafts!

Not only is this a simpler solution, but also it’s cheaper (we used the free PVC pipes in the Bray supply closet)!

With both an idea and supplies, we set to work on our second prototype!

This prototype is less refined than our first prototype, but it’s closer to actual size and it works.

We brought it to the SEC for our second round of usability testing!

For this usability assessment, we asked 8 participants of various heights to indicate at what height they would prefer their standing desk to be, and we marked this height (along with the height of the participant) on the telescoping pipes.

Next, we intend to combine this user data with anthropometric data online to determine where to drill holes in the telescoping pipes so the user can raise and lower the desk to the right heights for both sitting and standing. And that’ll be our less manual, less heavy, and hopefully more stable sit-stand solution!

Blog Post 3

Say hello to our first physical prototype!

After we made another CAD model, we headed to Bray Labs to cut out our pieces with the laser cutter.

Although this prototype looks a little different from our original CAD model, it maintains the most favorable aspects of the original: it’s multifunctional, there’s plenty of storage and desk space, and the desk surface can be pulled out and stowed away. Most importantly, this design was feasible! Plus, the design was made with only a single sheet of plywood, and it is held together with finger joints, so perhaps we can add simple and inexpensive to its list of favorable aspects.

But this prototype lacked sit-stand functionality! So we made another. Take a look:

This prototype has protruding side pieces that fit into the slots of side pieces that look like ladders. To raise the desk, the user moves the ladders up and down the protruding pieces. We thought that was a pretty simple sit-stand solution. But maybe that’s just us. We decided to get some feedback from our target user group members–students!

We conducted usability assessments at the Science and Engineering Complex. We asked participants to transition the desk from its storage mode to its sitting and then standing modes. Eighty-six percent of participants were able to complete these tasks successfully! Additionally, many of them complimented the practicality of the storage shelves, the large amount of desk space, and the design’s multi-functionality. However, the concerns from our previous user research also resurfaced–participants expressed worry about the weight and stability/weight-bearing capacity of the desk surface, and they commented that the transition between states was a little too manual.

Time to refine!

Blog Post 2

The results (of our user research) are in!
And the winner is… design 3, the space optimizing desk!

This concept was deemed most favorable for its practical multi-functionality and aesthetic design. Users described this desk as “very cool,” “versatile,” and “good for collaboration.” They particularly appreciated the amount of storage and desk space, and the folding whiteboard.

Nonetheless, users also expressed concerns about the design’s weight-bearing capacity, cost, mobility/weight, and the ease of transitioning between the desk’s different states.

I guess now it’s time to hit the drawing board whiteboard and make some prototypes!

Blog Post 1

At Sit-Stand Storage Solutions, the sit-stand storage squad (Chad and I) strives to solve your sit-stand storage situations!

Our challenge: how might we design a product that promotes activity, comfort, and collaboration for the average college student?

Our goal: design and build a sit-stand desk with ample space and storage functionality!

Our progress: thus far we have established our user needs through user research (a literature review, questionnaire, competitive analysis, expert review, and discussion with our client) and developed the following three design concepts based on our findings:

  • Our first design concept prioritizes simplicity. This design offers a large adjustable workspace, ample legroom, and chairs that function as storage bins—perfect for minimalists! Since this design is similar to standard sit-stand desks, our focus would be on making this desk more affordable.

  • Our second design concept prioritizes modularity. Each desk is designed to fit beside other desks to form a large cohesive circle (or semicircle)—perfect for group discussions. Additionally, each desk is adjustable and equipped with storage shelving below.

  • Our third design concept prioritizes space optimization. At its most compact level, this product is a cabinet with storage shelves on each end. Between these shelves is a whiteboard that can be pulled out and used as an adjustable desk surface—perfect for tight spaces.

Our next steps: Now that we have initial design concepts, we can collect feedback from our users! Feel free to post your comments below :). Soon we will choose a single design to refine, prototype, test, and iterate. Stay tuned for updates!

Super Simple Sorting Structures

Saw this at 200 Boston Ave and thought it was a cute DIY sorting structure. Clear pockets for visibility plus compressible to save space! I am a fan.

Reminds me of this closet organizer:

Less of a fan of this because I think the clothes are less accessible. But maybe it’d be useful for storage!

Point is, sorting is my jam, and I love how many simple, easy, and creative ways there are to sort things.

Robot arms!

Tara Hickman’s ergonomic armrests for chairs, and someone’s question about standing desks, reminded me of this patient from Grey’s Anatomy. He’s paralyzed from the neck down but still able to walk by connecting his brain activity to this nice robot suit.

The reason I thought of him (assuming it’s not immediately clear to you all) is because his limbs are fully supported and he’s standing. It got me thinking, instead of designing arm rests that attach to a chair, what if we designed arm rests that attach to a body? If the users are not restricted to the chair, they can work while sitting, standing, or walking around. Not only do they have support, but also they have the freedom of mobility. This simple ability to take breaks and stretch every once in awhile is crucial for preventing musculoskeletal disorders.

Instead of changing how we sit at work, let’s change how we work.

As Professor Intriligator explained in the HF GIM, Human Factors is not just about the physical components of a design but also the cognitive and emotional ones. So instead of studying how a person sits at a desk, let’s find out why they do that. What are they thinking and how are they feeling? It’s step #1 of design thinking: empathy. If people don’t like sitting for long periods of time, instead of making sitting more comfortable, let’s just eliminate sitting. It’s that simple. Think about it this way: if I told you that I wanted a pet but that I was allergic to cats, would you get me a cat and some allergy meds or would you get me a dog?


Although designing the classroom of the future seems like it would be fun, designing a $5 classroom for the present seems like it would be useful. For that reason, that’s what I looked into for Blog 2.

Introducing, UNICEF’s school-in-a-box. It’s a kit with supplies for a teacher and enough materials for 40 students. It’s designed for emergency situations, so teachers can continue teaching their students wherever they are, regardless of the state of their classrooms.

Lately, my social media sites have been ~flooded~ with news about the recent hurricanes, including how they’ve impacted schools (i.e., delays and closures). Some schools in Houston are so badly damaged that their students have been relocated to other schools. Imagine how crowded Tufts would be if we suddenly acquired another school’s-worth of students! I’m not sure that environment would be conducive to learning…

So the box seems relevant. Why crowd another school when you can just start your own? I’m sure the school from the box pales in comparison to the other schools, but it’s way better than nothing.

What if we designed a classroom-in-a-box for places without schools? Wouldn’t that be fun and useful and rewarding? I think so.

First post – worst post


This week I explored room2learn. It’s like an educational Pinterest, with “hacks” for improving classrooms. And it’s probably intended for an elementary school classroom, but I think some of the ideas can carry over to a college setting. Like whiteboard tables, plants, and ceiling power outlets (we had them at my high school and they were great because no one could trip over them). And how about some standing desks? Plenty of fun ideas. Not sure the classroom of the future needs a hammock, but I’m not ruling anything out yet!