New Lab at Georgia Tech Fosters Integration of Smart Technologies in New Product Design

Sep 26, 2011 | Atlanta, GA

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Teri Nagel, Georgia Tech College of Architecture

The School of Industrial Design at Georgia Tech has launched a new Interactive Product Design Laboratory, a 900 square-foot workshop to support the exploration and development of  “intelligent” products and systems. Students in the lab will leverage the capabilities of a new generation of sensor-based technologies for portable, wearable and networked applications. The public is invited to tour the new Industrial Design Studios and Lab at an open house event on Friday, October 28, 2011, 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm.

Conceived by Jim Budd, Chair of the School of Industrial Design, the lab is a new model for the design studio, that features collaborative workstations equipped for prototyping fully operational concepts for interactive products and systems. All workstations in the lab are interconnected with videoconferencing capabilities. For example, the instructor can broadcast intricate wiring, soldering or assembly techniques to each workstation in the classroom. Or, high definition videoconferencing affords remote interaction with collaborators, lecturers and studio sponsors.

“Much of this work is very intricate and can’t be easily moved for presentation purposes,” Budd said, referring to traditional one-on-one studio instruction where professors dedicate time with each design student.  “Conversely, students can project what they’re doing to the rest of the class using the USB cameras. The approach fosters idea sharing and collaborative design.”

Each Lab workstation is equipped for electronics assembly with a power supply, soldering station and fume extraction. A shared workbench equipped with a set of small stationary tools spans the back of the lab. A series of rolling storage cases housing hand tools and project supplies are stored under the workbench and can be rolled out to each workstation equipped to support in-class projects.

Given the low cost of underlying technology and pervasiveness of networked systems, analysts expect ‘smart’ products to reshape the way we interact and communicate.

“It’s not just about objects anymore it’s about networked products and connectivity,” said Budd. “We are building the resources to provide our students with the capabilities to effectively design, prototype and test new ideas and concepts for the next generation of intelligent interactive products, systems and services.

The lab is a valuable addition for students who want to pursue careers in the application and interpretation of interactive technologies in new product design.

In its inaugural year, the lab is scheduled to house several classes, including an introduction to sensor-based technologies and new applications in wearable technologies, both available to graduate and undergraduate students. Collaborative classes with engineering and interactive computing are also slated for the lab.

The open house event will be held on October 28, 2011, 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm, West Architecture Building second floor, 247 Fourth Street NW, Atlanta GA 30332. It is free and open to the public, and parking is available in Peters Parking Deck. 

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