MAJOR PROJECT 2014


The Capsule Computer System was the product of a year long research and design project looking into the accesability and sustainability of desktop computer design. Research methods such as surveys, forums, focus groups and participatory design were all used to gather information to inform a design outcome. These methods were all part of a thorough research phase that culminated in a 5600 word research report which you can view here.

The design stage of the project was conducted with the user groups to create user investment and create a more user centred product. The final design is a desktop computer which is broken down into modules allowing easy maintainance and dissasembly. This is important as research showed that one of the main barriers to computer technology is the percieved complexity and fragility.

Below are images from the process, final design and a user experience video. The project was also submitted to the RedDot design awards, the PDF submitted is available to view here, it explains in more detail the process and the final design. A business plan was also created for this project, that is available to view here.

Modeled in Rhino, rendered in Keyshot.
Model made from 'green foam', plywood, acrylic, MDF and dowel.

Final model displayed in context of home office.

Research began with field visits to local faclilites, this really put the problem in perspective.
The visit and interviews with staff also revealed opportunities to make the process more efficient and reduce pain.

User centred design is very important, because of this user groups were gathered to identify pain points and opportunities for design.

User groups were followed by task analysis, outlining issues in the relationship between computer technology and users.

This was followed by participatory design which involved a technique known as velcro modeling
This session outlined some key issues around jargon and the significant barrier its over-use creates.

Sketch-models made from polystyrene were used to quickly communicate ideas.

User groups were used extensively to validate ideas and come to design decisions.
I believe this user involvement throughout the project helped make a more rounded and resolved design that respects and values the identified needs of users.

The manufacture of the model began with the construction of press-moulds that would be used to bend the plywood.
Once laminated the plywood shelf pieces were trimmed and routed before being sanded and varnished.

The next stage was the creation of the backplate. For the model six pieces of 'green foam' were glued togther and then CNC routed on a SHOPBOT. In this image the pieces have just had a coat of surface filler applied in preperation for painting.

The module components were created by laser cutting and engraving sheets of acrylic, it was then heat bent to create the shape. Following this the parts were painted.

Speakers were created from laser cut MDF that was glued togther, filled, sanded and then painted.

This image shows parts of the modules about to have the white top coat applied.

Here is the complete unit being assembled.

The final design showing a 'full' system showcasing the coloured lighting.

Modules containing components can be removed, moved around and replaced very easily.

The magnetic blanking plate is used to bridge the gap in the connection when no module is installed.
This system is explained more in the Red Dot submission PDF.

When installed an green LED illuminates on the blanking plate.

Illustrated here is the magnetic dust filter that covers the nine 80mm intake fans that cool the modules.

At the end of the project, an exhibition called Exposure was held at Massey University for all graduating students. Here my project was displayed with the video below. The 'Throne' was also featured in the advertising campaign that Massey used for the exhibition.

This video was part of my final presentation and exhibition of the project. It outlines the users journey and experience with the product.


Client: Massey University - Type: Major Project - Date: 2014


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