Four Years of Dragon Con, Launchpad, and Student Designs

School of Industrial Design students often take on unusual assignments. But none are more unusual Dragon Con, one of the country’s largest fan conventions.

This fall at Launchpad students presented a retrospective of four years of “BuzzRa, the Lord of North Avenue," and their work with Dragon Con. The goal for students in the summer design studio was to learn about product design and how to pitch to a corporate client; and to have fun with BuzzRa!

This fall was also the 4th year of Launchpad, in which students are “launched” into their careers or the next phase of their education. It takes place each semester in the Architecture buildings of the College of Design.

Besides the Dragon Con retrospective, the fall 2018 show featured student work on three floors. The first floor contained the Dragon Con retrospective and projects of first-year students, the second floor studios and lobby were filled with examples and posters of student creations, and the 3rd floor hosted the PechaKucha. There, grads and undergrads talked about selected works.

The event attracted nearly 300 visitors, including alumni and representatives from industry, including AutoDesk, InComm, and Orange Sparkle Ball, a design agency.

For four years, industrial design students have created interactive products for Dragon Con. The challenge: how to design an engaging product that stands out in a venue that hosts 80,000 fans. BuzzRa was developed through 24-hour hackathons and summer semester studios. Also on display at Launchpad were accessible cosplay designs and gaming devices for players with physical limitations.

It's been four years, and BuzzRa emerges with a new look each year! Conceived by the Interactive Product Design Lab (IPDL), the totem is built from a Buzz doll dressed as a dragon, decked out with a variety of wearable light technology, programed triggers, and even a smoke machine.

This past year, the Society of Plastics Engineers: Thermoforming division, approached Georgia Tech students to offer them a chance to participate in an RC Car design and race competition. Of eight total teams, Georgia Tech teams placed first and second. Mako (above) placed first and received best design and best in show. The project involved designing, thermoforming, decorating, and racing a model car body.

Maverick placed second. It was modeled on the likeness of a sailfish, pushing the boundaries of traditional car design without making the form unrecognizable or too literal.

A fun and different project was MeditEgg. The suspended interactive swing, and comes alive when the participant sits on the swing and places fingers on the heart beat sensor. Once the MeditEgg reads the participant’s heartbeat, lights flicker to the beat of his or her heart. If the swing is moved in a non-relaxed manner, the light turns red, prompting users to return to a more relaxed state.

The Innovation and Design Collaborative presented their Lighted Blocks, which were done for Design Bloc, a hub of interdisciplinary teams from across Georgia Tech. These lighted blocks are a visual representation of the five principles that Design Bloc is based on.

Do these figures look like characters or people you know? The 3D figures represent personas from students in one of the fall Capstone classes. The goal of the class was to teach students the “Scan & Print” design methodology. Each student received a full body scan CAD file that they were required to 3D print as a 10” tall figure. The challenge was to create a 3D figure that reflects a persona: superhero, celebrity, or book character.

All industrial design students must learn to sketch. This display shows work from the study of Rapid Design Visualization. Students were asked to focus on developing the basic drawing and visualization techniques needed to efficiently communicate and present design ideas in an accurate and convincing manner.

The 1st-floor studio was filled with the work of first-year students. This expanse of the room shows various projects. This retro pillbox hat, Capello, combines 1960s form with the De Stijl art movement for a geometric design.

This project called mindset, uses a biometric sensor that tracks heart rate and galvanic skin response to determine a user’s level of positive and negative response. That data is cross analyzed with the user’s schedule entered into an app to provide “insight into pain points” making suggestions for a more protective schedule.

Augmented reality is all the rage today, but it also can be used as a tool and supplemental aid for engineers, executives, and technicians. This project showcases an immersive way for their designs and systems to be tested, iterated, and improved. T.F.I.N. allows the engineer to test and modify their designs in a non-destructive manner.

This music disc player is called Jukebox Gearo, from a course called Design of Interactive Environments. The large central gear spins constantly; the smaller gears correspond to a musical note. When placed on the jukebox, the gears play a note, and if a proper sequence is recognized, a real song plays!

As always, many visitors close out the night with the PechaKucha, at which grad and undergrad students present their work in 20 slides in 6 minutes.

Join us again in May when students get to do this again at Launchpad Plus, which has a few additional features, including the opportunity for visitors to buy student products.