The Design Process
STEP 3: Ideate
Having decided on wanting to do a product for those suffering from sleep problems, and who use music as a means of relaxing and slip into sleep, we now had to gather our research and try to come up with an idea of how to solve the problem of the uncomfortable headphones. We had to embrace the third step of the Design Process – Ideate.
We knew we wanted to improve the comfort of falling a sleep while wearing headphones, and our research pointed towards a couple of different points to consider in the idea generation process. First, those who use music to fall asleep, experienced the removal of the headphones or earbuds before bed as a disruption in sleep. So we started by focusing on that specific point – You had to be able to sleep through the night while wearing the product. It had to be comfortable. It had to be able to play music.
We started researching the market for what was already out there. It turns out that two companies in particular made products that had the same idea in mind. So by analyzing their customer feedback we found a couple of areas, where we could improve the overall experience. One product was designed as a headband with build-in speakers, the other designed as a sports-earbud placed outside of the ear. The customers reported that they found the headband to be too warm to sleep with, and the cord linking to the charger in the back of the product, to be extremely uncomfortable while sleeping. The customers of the other product, reported that they found the space between the earphones and the ear to be uncomfortable, and the chord connecting to the music device to be uncomfortable. Both of the existing solutions had a price between 30-35 pounds, which most of the customers reported to be to expensive considering the quality of the earphones.
Based on the research we did in our Define step and the feedback we retrieved from these customers we started to generate ideas.
We wanted to eliminate the heat build-up, customers experienced while sleeping with a headband, and so we had the idea of creating a product only covering the ears. We also wanted to eliminate the unpleasant cord, by creating a product with bluetooth speakers, so the customer would only have to charge the product during the day, and then be able to wear it throughout the night. We knew it had to be comfortable, so we started working with the idea of producing a ‘pillow for the ears’, where the speaker was covered enough so that the user wouldn’t be able to feel the speaker inside the design.
We went through a couple of design specific ideas, such has tightening the product to the ear by using an adjustable tread, an elastic band etc. The product had to be washable, so the speakers had to be removable. The fabric had to be firm and soft.
The idea generation process proved to be succesful, and we came up with a lot of ideas for the product – some crazy, some impossible, some bad, one good. But we knew, we wouldn’t be able to choose or get closer to the specifics of the product before we’d actually gone through the prototyping stage. We started out with a vague idea of how to solve the problem, a vague idea of what product we wanted to do. When three independent minds come together working on the same idea, you discover that you begin with three different versions of the same idea. But our ideation process ended with a mutual vision for the idea, and the product we wanted to do. Next time!
“You have to have an idea of what you are going to do, but it should be a vague idea”, Pablo Picasso.