CMU/Microsoft ScoutThe Windows mobility division at Microsoft sponsored a design course at CMU focused on exploring the potential of mobile computing.
My team designed a dual-screen handheld computer called the Scout.
The ProblemEach team was allowed to explore individual facets of the mobile problem space. Our solution could involve creating a mobile product, an application or an entire system architecture. Practically nothing was predefined by the client besides the need for it to integrate with the Windows platform.
Our ApproachBuilding on the strengths of each team member, representing the English, Design and Mechanical Engineering departments, we began a broad survey of the problem.
My team spent the first month of this project immersing ourselves in the world of mobile and ubiquitious computing. This involved an intense period of design research--conducting surveys, interviews and shadowing users. We tracked our progress on the team m151 weblog and used it to share ideas and communicate with the client.
As our exploration progressed, we narrowed our focus to the needs of unstructured professionals, that is, people who work both in and out of the office and therefore have more of an opportunity to benefit from mobile computing solutions.
In an effort to empathize with the needs of our users, we decided to spend as much time in the mobile environment as possible. We held team meetings away from the comfort of the graduate studio at different points around campus. We also began carrying physical prototypes to and from school to guage the impact of our device on our "unconscious carry." How would our solution work on a bus? At the airport? Walking to lunch?
SolutionOur solution involved the design of a transparent system for synchronizing data and searching across multiple computers, using a dual-screen handheld tablet computer as the "window" into a person's digital life.
The semester culminated in a detailed physical and digital prototype that we call the Scout.