In this third post on wearable technology in sport I am going to be looking at how wearables are being used for performance analysis, and the affect this has been having on the players and the sports themselves. As sport has become more professional over the last 30 years or so, the level of performance has increased, as athletes are becoming faster, stronger and more skilful. To help facilitate these performances, the analysis of the athletes is an ever-developing field.
In this second blog on wearable technology in sport, I am going to be summarising my research into how the technology can be used for player welfare. Arguably the most successful athletes in their disciplines are the ones that are able to look after their bodies, stay injury free, and have a long and prosperous career. Roger Federer for example, my favourite tennis player and arguably the greatest of all time, has stayed at the very top of the sport winning 20 grand slams over a career of 22 years. A huge part of this prolonged success is down to his graceful, elegant style that takes very little toll on his body. Injury prevention and conditioning is an increasingly important aspect of every athlete’s life, professional and amateur.
This blog post on great design is going to be a little different, but I am writing this in isolation amid the Coronavirus outbreak, so I feel that it is very relevant. This post will be focused on the open source ventilator project that has brought together over 300 medical professionals, engineers, designers and researchers to design a quick to manufacture, cheap and accessible ventilator so that hospitals can keep up with the demands caused by the virus.
At the end of a recent Design and Technology lecture, we spoke about the lack of knowledge about African designers. We looked at the randomly allocated designers that we had researched for our Pichi Kichi presentations, and discovered that the vast majority were from Europe, and none were from Africa. I have set about finding some examples of African design, to not only prove that it is out there, but that examples of it should be regarded in the same vain as our Heatherwick, Rams and Grange.
In preparation for our end of term Pecha Kucha presentations, this week in our Design and Technology lecture, we each gave a “Pichi Kichi” presentation. A Pecha Kucha is a presentation style that takes the form of 20 slides each appearing for 20 seconds. A “Pichi Kichi” is a shortened version of this consisting of 10 slides of 10 seconds each. The slides are designed in such a way that they roll over automatically, meaning the presentation has to be slick and well-rehearsed. These presentations were on famous designers that were randomly allocated to us.
As part of the Design and Technology course at the GSA, we have each selected a particular topic of interest to research and present on at the end of the semester. I have chosen a topic that relates directly to my internship that I am juggling with university work this term, which is wearable technology in sport. Over the last few years wearable technology has moved forward in leaps and bounds, and its integration into commonplace, daily use is inevitable. The market of wearable technology was expected to see threefold growth between from $24bn in 2017 to $70bn in 2025 (according to an IDTechEx report). Over the course of this research, I hope to explore how wearable technology is already being implemented within the sporting world and the consequences of this (positive and negative), and where it might lead to in the future. This collection of blog posts will be a brief documentation of my research in this topic.
In the recent lecture from Kaitlyn Debiasse on designing for disability, she mentioned Wabi Sabi. Wabi Sabi is a Japanese philosophy focused on ‘accepting the imperfect and transient nature of life.’ It captures the freeing mentality that nothing is perfect or complete, and that there is a certain beauty in this more authentic attitude to life. Kaitlyn referred to the philosophy whilst showing an image of a broken ceramic pot that had been repaired but made use of the imperfections that came with the cracks and discolouration of the material. This has led me to explore where Wabi Sabi might be prominent within great design.
Alastair Macdonald, Craig Whittet’s predecessor as the head of PDE at the GSA, ran a lecture on Thursday this week concerning the current planetary crisis, and how as designers we might act ethically in an attempt to curb these environmental issues. Alastair spoke of counter-cultures, and how people have been pushing for climate change action since the 60’s. Counter-culture refers to culture that acts as a reaction against mainstream society. Counter-culture is often referred to as hippy, free-thinking, flower power communities. For PDE’ers, as Alastair puts it, it is useful to know some of the designers emerging from this era who also anticipated todays concern for the health and survival of our planet.
“I spend most of the time being angry,” was the opening line of Kaitlyn Debiasse’s lecture on Friday afternoon. Kaitlyn is a design tutor here at the GSA and here she was referring to the lack of accessible design in the world, specifically the fact that the vast majority of things are designed for the 90th percentile man. This means that lots of essential everyday products are clumsy and difficult to use for those that don’t fit the ‘average man’ criteria. In some cases, like cars for example, they can be unsafe and potentially even deadly. Kaitlyn provided a thought-provoking outlook on designing for disability, supplemented by some successful examples of accessible design and her recent project bringing prosthetic hands to amputees in Jordan.
Ben Craven is the PDE first year tutor at the GSA. He has an incredibly technical mind, is very skilled and has a lot of experience in making things. In first year, we were given a project to design and build a cardboard vehicle capable of a number of tasks. From my vague memory these tasks were to be dropped from a meter and start driving, drive over an obstacle course and drive in a circle whilst filming another object. Ben’s vehicle was a masterpiece and had been meticulously designed to perform each task. Despite the fact that we had been working in teams for about a month on the project, Ben’s car outperformed us all.
During the last few months I have been balancing an internship alongside my studies. I was lucky enough to be given a 3D printer to help with prototyping and developmental work. The problem however was that this printer was not functional when it was given over to me. It was missing a few essential parts and was certainly missing some much needed tlc.
This week Stuart Bailey (PDE MSc tutor) gave an overview on services, products and human-centred design. It was a whistle-stop tour and covered a lot of ground very quickly. There were a few aspects of the talk that stood out to me. There was a lot of emphasis put on how designing a service, in relation to designing a product, is just as important in this day and age as designing a physical thing.
Rachael Sleight is a lecturer of Sustainable Materials and Processes here at the GSA’s School of Innovation, and she spoke to us about her views on design practice, accompanied by examples of her own work. Alongside working at the GSA, she has been working for Stylus, an innovation research and trend firm, she has set up a bespoke leather bag business called Burnbank and has worked as a freelance for a number of other design companies. She has a wealth of experience in material experimentation, and her design process is grounded in “materials first, product second.” I will comment on some of the stand-out thoughts from her lecture this morning.
I recently came across an article in The Times which outlined how the French National Centre for Scientific Research had teamed up with the University of Liverpool in order to carry out a ground breaking study into maritime vessels that are attempting to evade authorities, to gain insight into illegal fishing hotspots. They fitted Albatrosses, birds that can stay flying for months on end, with devices that track radar signals from vessels that the birds come across as they fly across the oceans.
This week we watched a documentary called ‘Forkes over Knives’. It is essentially an advert for going vegan, or a ‘wholemeal plant-based diet’. After stating the problem, which is that 40% of Americans are obese, and over half take daily prescriptions, the documentary outlines the health benefits of cutting animal-based products out of your lives. The program describes the experiences of several unhealthy Americans who, after changing their diet, see a drastically changed lifestyle and health forecast.
This week we watched the 2011 documentary about the careers of the famous husband and wife design duo, Charles and Ray Eames. Despite neither being an outright designer, the Eameses have had a huge impact on modern day design and are regarded still as some of the most influential designers of the 20th century.
Craig Whittet, the head of Product Design Engineering at the Glasgow School of Art, gave a lecture on ‘the Demise of Skilled Manufacturing’. Craig outlined the current challenges facing manufacturers, especially those who use processes that require a huge amount of skill. The products created in this manner are generally of a much higher quality than similar products that have been mass produced using less refined skills. The products are more likely to last longer and provide a better service during their lifetime. Craig outlined a few examples of companies that offer products like this.
I have often thought that a person is much more likely to write a review for a product or a service if it is bad feedback. Maybe it is me being a cynic, but I also think people are more likely to complain about something than congratulate that something for performing its duty. In the same way, I think we are more likely to notice something as being bad design than as good design. I feel that good design can accommodate our wants and needs whilst remaining almost invisible to the observer, but bad design screams and shouts its inaccuracies, making itself hugely noticeable.
In this blog post I am going to talk briefly about sensory properties of products, and how they can alter your perception of the quality of the product. We have all picked up a cheap and badly designed item and noticed how badly designed it was. This might be because something rattles, a part doesn’t quite fit in another part, or the finish is tacky or uneven for example. On the other hand, we have all picked up a product and thought, “Wow, this is really nice!” What springs to mind when I think of this, is the box that my iPad came in, and I’m sure that if any of you have ever owned an apple product, you will understand what I mean.
In this second blog about our course trip to London, I will discuss some further examples of great design that we witnessed. The first of which is the Diana Memorial Fountain in Hyde Park, designed by Gustafson Porter. I frustratingly cannot find any of the photos that I took at the fountain, so I will try to describe it as best I can.
Every September the 4th year of Product Design Engineering in Glasgow visit London for the London Design Festival. As well as it being a bit of an excuse to go on a trip to London, the coinciding Design Festival meant that we were able to browse some examples of pretty interesting design, and gain some inspiration. We visited the Design Museum, The V&A Museum, and the London Design Fair of 2019, and some other notable pieces of design such as the Diana Memorial Fountain, and the Serpentine Gallery. In this first part of the post I will highlight my favourite aspects of design that I encountered in the Design Museum, and why I believe them to be ‘great’.
Over the coming academic year, this blog will set out to be a personal description of what I believe to be “great design”. At this moment in time, I’m not entirely certain what form this will take. I hope to keep it varied, so as not to bore whoever might be reading it, and also unique – expressing my own insights into design as much as possible, rather than relying on the opinions of others.