A handy lab buddy that makes "what if" possible.
PRISM PAL was designed to modernize the brand identity of Micromeritics - an industrial, 100% engineering and chemical company - through the means of futuristic technology and enhanced visual design language. With the technology of hologram, Prism Pal attempts to bring in the users and the machines closer together in the lab.
Who is Micromeritics?
Micromeritics was a special client in an unfamiliar field. Therefore, a background research was conducted to become informed on our client before actually touring at their site. I looked at Micromeritics' Website and brochures of products to get the general grasp on their company values and visual language.
Identifying pinch points
An initial tour of Micromeritics’ laboratory allowed us to immediately see the kinds of problems that they had in-house. Among the biggest issues were clutter, crowded footspace, disorganization, and rudimentary contact of information and interaction. And right off the bat, it was apparent that they valued performance and function over looks. Beside these problems we saw, Micromeritics also expressed their wants in expanding remote access and portability of the lab equipment.
Interface: Design Opportunity
Space conservation is key in being cost-effective. The machines at Micomeritics do not abide by this principle, to the extent that many of their devices have add-on computers that worsen the cluttered environment. So what if Micromeritics could operate more efficiently by lessening the physical footprint of these displays?
Likewise, I chose to tackle other found pinch-points by keeping me openminded with this magic question:
Tackling with Interface: Promising Opportunities
After thoroughly analyzing the current situations and pinch points found in the lab, I came to the conclusion that the means of interface will be the best and the most fruitful approach to solving Micromeritics' issues.
From that point on, my classmates and I formulated a set of broad questions to brainstorm different “what if” instances. The instances that I personally thought were interesting to expand upon in the next phase have been highlighted in orange, with many of these utilizing "hologram" and "projected screens."
Endless possibilities with holographic technology.
Inspired by the previous exercise, I was drawn to the idea of incorporating holographic technology for the prolific potentials I saw with it. For example, it was seen at Micromeritics that the lab workers had to deal with their vast inventory of equipment and machines. What if they had to check experiments on multiple machines, all located in different areas of the building? It would be a massive hassle and a waste of time to maneuver back and forth. What if they wanted to check information at home? They would have to wait another day to come in the lab. With holographic technology, these instances can be solved.
But it's not rocket science: how with hologram
To further make my case convincing, I found the need to outline the developing holographic technologies and the fact that where they are headed is indeed tangible in the future.
The idea of using holograms may seem daunting at present, but it is no doubt one of the most intriguing technologies. With its rise in the technological arena, many businesses, engineers, and designers are keen on developing its potential for growth and innovation. With the continuation of its rapid growth and refinements, the future of fully projective and interactive holographic screen (like those seen in Iron Man), isn’t too far ahead.
Riffing off from the possible opportunities and instances brainstormed from the previous phases, I came up with 5 different initial sketches that communicate the ideas of having an interface without displays and ways to increase productivity and decrease clutter within the lab via interface. Of these initial ideas were a holographic wearable and a centralized information system. Several of these futuristic ideas were inspired by the technologies in the movies explored during the previous brainstorming session (E.G. Iron Man and Minority Report).
The concept of wearable device diverged into a portable “lab-buddy,” but the core idea of having a “device” easily accessible to the user at all times remained. I chose the portable device over a wearable because the user-machine-interface interactions could be achieved much smoother and more seamless. With regards to the form, different options were explored to integrate the visual design language of Micromeritics (subtle “M” on cap at the front paired with geometric and minimalist design).
Prism Pal's hardware is divided into the projector "body" which displays the information, and the mount that is to be installed on every machine in Micromeritics and to act as a hub of information between the machine and the projector.
Logistics: what features should it have?
I created three distinctive features to the interface that were address the issues found and to enhance the experience at Micromeritics. Screens were sketched to get a general idea of what goes where before entering the realistic rendering phase.
Logistics: how does it work?
Inspired by the futuristic technologies seen in both movies and real life, the navigation on the interface is gesture-based - that is, once the screen is projected in front of the user, they can directly interact with the screen as if it's a giant floating tablet. This special interaction is not only designed to be intuitive to how Prism Pal works, but also to offer a different kind of experience to what is already there at Micromeritics.
Quick Overview: All the information you need, all at once.
When the device is mounted to the machine, device will immediately project relevant information regarding the machine right in front of the user. This particular feature eliminates the need to fumble through the machine in order to access it, preventing possible machine failures and experiment errors all the while helping the user to do less work to retrieve important information.
Remote Machine Management: No more sleepless nights wondering about your experiment.
When the user is at home and wishes to check on their known machines or other machines in the lab, the user can access the information via the device. For example, the user might wonder if the experimentation is going well at home, and they’ll be able to check through the device. And depending on the status of the user, they will be ale to directly manipulate the machines from home, so when there is downtime in the lab, the user wouldn’t have to stay in the lab all day to keep the experimentation moving forward.
Live Simulation: Simulate machines from your fingertips.
From clueless interns to potential clients, the Prism Pal can educate anyone on how the machines are operated right at their fingertips. The user can go through a the database that contains simulation information of all machines available; go about the machine as if it’s real life; and predict test results.
The Future with Prism Pal
Holographic interface in context.
Industrial Branding Project
Fall 2016 | Georgia Institute of Technology