What is the next big thing going to be? The next Instagram, Tumblr, or dare I say it, facebook? This is the question that myself and many other classmates wrestled with when brainstorming concepts for our end of year graduate project. The grad project is supposed to be the big shebang; it is the culmination of learning and hard work from the previous 9 months and ultimately it is what we as students use to “woo” potential employers. No pressure, right?
So quick, what is the next big thing?
This question only leads to sleepless nights and I needed a grad project stat (as well as sleep). I had a conversation with our head of departnment, Miles Nurse and he spoke about the idea of innovating existing ideas/products rather than inventing the new sliced-bread app. We immediately began talking about the current trend of app-enabled technology. Products like the Lockitron, Nike+ Fuelband, and Nest thermostat are all hints of what we can expect from the future: digitally integrated house hold items.
From here I started to brainstorm ways in which I could implement app-enabled technology into other aspects of our daily routine. The notion of health-centered wearable technology really peaked my interest and so I began to look at what was currently available: the Nike+ Fuelband, Jawbone Up, and Fitbit. The basis of these products is to track the user’s daily activity with the aid of a smartphone application that is synced to the wearable device. After a bit of research I went to bed one night and had one of those 4am dream-ideas. What if dog owners could track how active their pets are throughout the day? Suggestions could be made for how long walks should be; Busy families could better manage their dog’s activity to ensure they are getting proper exercise; And ultimately, owners would have healthier dogs.
And so, this is my graduate project. At this point it is codenamed: Tamagotchi and it has been the focus of my attention for the last couple of months. I am about half way through and have already had my fair share of issues. An example would be the fact that you can not generalize the amount of suggested activity for dogs as you can for humans (10,000 steps per day) because of the varying health requirements of different breeds. As well, a 1km walk for a Chihuahua is not the same energy expenditure for something like a Border Collie. These are only a couple of the things that I have had to take into account but it is these bumps that have made it such a fun and interesting project. So far…