Mark ME/ID Questions

ID / Mechanical Questions

from Mark

The questions below come from Mark (via Adeel).

1. What are the most important industrial design concerns? Style vs. Robustness? Dustproof? Readability? Serviceability?

  • I'm not sure what is meant by "readable", unless this was written before Mark understood that there is no visual display.
  • Style: important: the capture attention and gain traction (before the functional benefits are fully understood), the device needs to be noticeable or even striking. It should clearly stand out from the typical look of cheap electronics. However, style will have to take a back seat to robustness.
  • Robustness: See #3 about shock/vibration requirements. Robustness is very important because consumers will be stretched to purchase these devices and will be unlikey to have money-back options should the device fail soon after purchase. The devices will also be used in harsh environments (see #4 - humidity). However, I see some compromise possible between robustness and serviceability: if these devices are easily serviceable, kiosk operators may be able to fix problems that infrequently result from less-than ideal robustness.
  • Dustproof: Our Ghana pilot will include areas that are particularly dusty.

2. Are the batteries going to be easily accessible?

  • We can depend on size D and size AA batteries being available. Size Ds are much more common — but if we had to go with size AA (for instance, if we needed three 1.5V cells and three Ds feels too heavy), I suspect the added demand for AAs driven by Talking Books would result in added supply.
  • Our power strategy is based on two principles:
    • 1. minimize the environmental impact of these devices
    • 2. maximize the reach of this device to the very poorest
  • These principles can cause conflict. We currently plan to allow the device to be powered by inexpensive disposable batteries available in the rural markets today — the same ones used for radios (size D and AAs). However, we would like the device to ideally support a rechargeable battery, which can be introduced soon after the initial deployment and can be recharged at solar-powered kiosks for a fee. An add-on hand-crank and other renewable power options should be explored.

3. What are the shock/vibration testing requirements?

These are obviously not technical specifications, and they may not be realistic; but hopefully this helps start a discussion:

  • Shock: The casing should ideally not crack if dropped on to a concrete surface from a height of four feet. There should be no detectable damage at all if dropped from the same height onto a hard-packed dirt road.
  • Vibration: The devices must not be damaged if thrown in a box with no special packing, stuck in the back of a pick-up truck, and driven for hours over extremely bumpy, pot-holed, dirt roads.

4. What are the operational and shipping temperature requirements?

  • 0-50 degrees C. Device will need to continue operating in high humidity environments

5. How will this device most likely be carried?

  • Most men have pants pockets, but women may have fewer pocket options. Therefore, the device must have a hole to allow looping a lanyard/cord through the device to hang around neck. Greg once suggested that, should a transfer cable be significantly cheaper than building in male/female ports, we should design the cable to be used to hold device around neck. This might also be nice for visibility —> leading to increased usage/demand.

6. How sensitive to ergonomics will this design be – human size vs. device size, etc.?

  • Need more thought about ergonomics, but small device size may be important for common use by children and working adults.

7. How sensitive is the company to environmental issues? Should design for environment (DfE), end of life, recyclability vs. reusability issues be of concern?

  • See Question #2 about batteries.
  • In addition, we plan to have kiosks used as recycling centers for broken devices. We would like to reuse device shell/case when there is an electronics failure. We would like a trained village service person to replace shell/case when it cracks, using same hardware package.

8. How will these devices be deployed to the end user?

  • Distributed and sold through same channels as radios: available during local weekly market days
  • Sold by local NGOs during visits to nearby villages
  • Distributed by Ministry of Education to primary schools along with other school supplies