Visual Storyboarding Provides a Conceptual Bridge from Research to Development: Students Can Imagine the Results of Their Decision Making, and Their Prioritization of the Many Facets of the Design Problem Will Facilitate the Development of a Strong Final Solution

Article excerpt

Industrial Design students are hardworking, ambitious, get-the-job-done sort of people. They conduct Industrial Design research that defines the user, the intended market, the required function, and appropriate image. This plethora of information is sufficient to define the design objectives and strike a target line through the design process to an excellent solution.

However, there is often a disconnect between the information acquired in the research phase and the design issues addressed in the concept development phase of a project. This is based largely on the fact that research material presents information from different sources and formats, and students need to select, prioritize, and apply that information to their projects. It is a difficult decision for students to make, as they are learning to juggle the different facets of a design problem and trying to project the results of their decisions into successful concepts. What seems so difficult for student designers is second nature to an experienced designer.

The disconnect is typically manifested in one of two ways. First, the research information presents the project as being huge and intimidating, causing students to become quagmired by the torrent of information. On the opposing side, students push a decision, focus on one issue from their research, and lose sight of other, less obvious, yet still valuable ones. Both activities result in design solutions that do not employ the research information to its fullest extent. In order to facilitate the selection/prioritization process and bridge the gap of design research to design conceptualization, students need to visualize the big picture that describes how the research categories such as "user," "marketing," "functional/mechanical research" are related. This is achieved through the use of a visual storyboard.

The storyboard presents pictorially how the user will interact with the product from storage, through use, and back to storage. The storyboard becomes a communication tool, based on research information, that the student uses to focus on one portion of the design problem while not losing sight of others. In this way, students can visualize how prioritizing the functional parameters of a tall man may exclude those of a small woman. Thus, students can imagine the results of their decision making, and their prioritization of the many facets of the design problem will facilitate the development of strong final solution. In addition, by employing a storyboard, students may identify points in the process where more research information and definition is needed.

This paper, through academic and industrial examples, addresses the construction of the visual storyboard from design research information, and examples its value in visualizing the many facets involved in designing a product.

Designing a Rehabilitative Gait Trainer

Robert Roe

Industrial Design Student

Georgia Institute of Technology

Robert Roe is an industrious student with an interest in design research and medical product design as career directions. Given his interpersonal and design research skills, and knowing that medical rehab products often lack industrial design input, made designing the gait trainer an excellent project. His research document was very thorough. It included information on the skeletal and muscular structures of the body, typical maladies that would cause a person to require rehabilitation, and pictorial display of the products available to the physical therapist and patients. In addition, he interviewed therapists involved in this area in order to better understand their activities and concerns. The result was a very successful presentation of what the product must do and how it will compete in a selective market. The project was rich with opportunity to design innovative solutions to the many issues described by the research. Unfortunately, the time allotted for the project would not permit development of a fully finished product solution that appropriately addressed the issues. …