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  • Steve Mills

PROJECT THREE: A Speculative Prototype For A Conceptual Future


The final chapter of this project started with looking into signals and trends around the subject of Liquid Infrastructure with an exploration on Product Delivery with a deeper dive into Curbside Pickup. From there, I changed direction as I focused on overproduction in a human-driven environment with intensive resource consumption.

All this has led me to a conceptual future where the way people shop for products has focused on online purchasing and delivery, and the traditional brick and mortars are in a state of decline. It resulted in increased packaging materials leading to potential excessive retail pollution where governments enforced bans on disposable shipping packaging.

In this final project, I will look at an alternative product to present methods of shipping products. Along with this new product, I will incorporate a future digital artifact associated with the product. It was a look into the future (2030) we were encouraged to include strangeness into our design.


THE PROBLEM

My focus was around packaging material, in particular, packing peanuts. They have evolved in the years from being made out of styrofoam, something harmful to the environment and human health, to a biodegradable starch material that is safe for both the environment and people. I decided to take these peanuts and bring them into the future with a modern progressive trend which is the idea of repurposing materials. I started to think, could these packing peanuts be repurposed in a way that could benefit both the customer and retailer as a new sustainable product?


Maybe Not The Best Solutions?

My initial ideas stemmed from repurposing packing peanuts as gardening materials or pet food. The idea was to infuse biodegradable packing peanuts with flower or vegetable seeds for planting in the consumer's garden. The digital artifact that paired with this concept was something I called the Green Tornado. A floor lamp that also worked as a fusion device. It takes your biodegradable packing peanuts and infuses them with the customer's choice of gardening seeds for planting. Not very practical. It would require additional work for the customer that people would probably not put the time into doing. It seemed more of an inconvenience for consumers, the same idea with the composter that converted what would be planted nutrient-rich packing peanuts into compost.

Then there was the pet food idea, making packing peanuts that were safe for small pet consumption. It was also not the best idea, but I felt I was getting close.

One of the big problems with all these ideas was the population of gardeners and small pet owners. Not everyone is into gardening, especially city populations where those living in condos do not have the space for gardening. Same for small pet owners. The ideas weren't scalable and reached a large enough population of consumers.


A BETTER SOLUTION

The pet food idea got me to think; what if we could make packing peanuts safe for human consumption?

After creating an insights mural, I refocussed my idea to something that would connect with a larger audience that was easy to use.


Fuel Pack

These repurposed packing peanuts will replace the traditional peanut and reduce the amount of waste caused by disposable packing materials. Fuel Packs are safe for human consumption. Packing peanuts individually packed in one serving biodegradable bags used as an energy drink. They come in different flavours, and when mixed with water or a favourite smoothy, they become a fuel replacement for athletes and active people on the go.

It is a product that covers a much broader audience and can leverage as a promotional product or even a revenue source for retailers. These Fuel Packs can be offered as a minor additional cost option when customers choose their shipping. The product can promote the retailer as both an environmentally conscious and health-conscious company. They could even offer discount points for selecting the Fuel Pack shipping option.


THE DIGITAL PRODUCT

After establishing a new product, I had to create a digital product to complement the Fuel Pack. One of my passions has been interior camping in Algonquin Park, a few hours north of home. Interior camping involves a lot of paddling in a canoe along with portaging from one lake to another. Hauling both a canoe and a 50-pound backpack through rough terrain requires a lot of energy and constant rehydration.

The idea was to design an app that would monitor your body's fuel intake and alert you when it is time to take a break and fuel up. Through my personal experience, when you are caught up in the adventure and always moving forward, you sometimes forget to stop and take the time to replenish your body's needs, and you end up crashing and struggling to keep moving. The concept of this app will allow you to do this along with some other guidance features added.


Fittech Smart Wear

To add to the futuristic idea of this future scenario, I wanted to come up with a wearable digital product to display this app for Fuel Pack. What made the most sense to me was a sport shirt. It would allow for the placement of sensors throughout the garment in suitable locations on the body for the best monitoring of vitals. It would also provide easy viewing access for a display in the sleeves of the shirt.

It would be something not just designed for the Fuel Pack app but a device much like your mobile phone or smartwatch. It could house different applications for all your needs for whatever activities you choose.



IN CONCLUSION

One of the things this pandemic has shown us is the importance of the need for businesses to be fluid in their practices. The world is constantly evolving, and business practices with it. Just look at the evolution of the grocery bag. We have gone from using paper to plastic to save the trees, then to recycled paper or reusables to save the environment. Businesses will continue to change to match the social-economical and political environment. One of those practices that we are starting to see more of today is the idea of repurposing products.

My project was partially inspired by the Nike Grind program. It is a project developed by Nike to take back their customer's old shoes. Instead of them ending up in landfills, they are dismantled and formed into new products. When I learned about this, it sparked the crazy idea of creating a packing peanut that serves two purposes and is environmentally friendly at the same time. It may sound a bit ridiculous, but that was the idea of this project. This project pushed me to think outside of the box. It is what design thinking is all about.

The final deliverable that was part of this project was to create some promotional material for your product. I chose to create a short 3-minute video introducing both Fuel Pack packing peanuts and the Fittech Smart Wear sport shirt.



CITATIONS

  • Images used in the video - www.unsplashed.com

  • Illustration and graphic elements created by Stephen Mills

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