Capstone Spring 2018: From the Arts to the Zoo

Ballet pointe shoes taken apart to study.

By Malrey Head | Monday, April 16, 2018 | Atlanta, GA

The arts, autos, and monkeys. These were among the industrial design projects at the Capstone Design Expo this month.

Seven teams from the ID/ME (Industrial Design/Mechanical Engineering) Multidisciplinary Capstone Design course entered this spring’s Expo. It is a showcase of Georgia Tech’s graduating seniors presenting projects designed and built during the course.

The ID/ME student projects ranged from the arts-inspired to various levels of autonomous vehicles.

The course is taught by Wayne Li and Stephen Sprigle, professors in the School of Industrial Design. It is an interdisciplinary course that integrates industrial design and mechanical engineering. Students from both disciplines take the course and teams are combinations of students.

The studio is patterned off of a design consultancy/studio model, and students work on multi-disciplinary teams on real-world, client projects, Li said. The students run through a complete design process: customer/user discovery, empathy, ideation (sketches and models), prototyping, testing, and refinement/evaluation.

There are three phases to the assignment: research, design, and implementation. Let’s look at the design phase and see how the teams fared.

Team Advanced Heads Up Display

This team looked at use cases and technologies for an "interactive windshield." They specifically studied the value of this windshield in an “interactive car” used for service vehicles, such as pizza/food or package delivery. With an autonomous delivery vehicle, the driver's role could change. Students had to imagine what that role might be. The "interactive windshield" would work much like the touch screen on a smartphone, allowing the rider/driver to interact with the windshield while the car drives itself. The project used a transparent OLED HDTV to simulate an augmented reality windshield. Research was in the General Motors Human-Machine Interaction Lab. The team was tasked with engineering execution and manufacturability, even though actual implementation may not be for several years. General Motors and Georgia Tech sponsored this team. At the event, this team was approached by Mercedes Benz: Information Hub Architect to discuss their project.

Team Ballet Pointe Shoe

For ballet dancers, the road to dancing on pointe is the pinnacle of a ballerina’s life. But ballet pointe shoes have not significantly changed since the beginning of this form of dance. The shapes have changed but the material has largely remained the same. This project had two main objectives: improve the stress on the dancer’s feet when on pointe and improve the durability of the shoe. Current shoe design places all the stress on the great toe. An improved design would distribute body weight over more toes or parts of the foot. The pointe shoe itself is a composition of paper and wood and glue and “dies” within several hours or months depending on how much it is used and how much the dancer sweats. Students deconstructed current shoes as they considered how to remake the shoe. They considered two approaches: 1) re-design of the pointe shoe, and 2) design of an insert to improve functionality of existing pointe shoes. Such a solution would possibly decrease risk of injury for the dancer and prolong the life of the shoe. Children's Healthcare of Atlanta sponsored this team.

Team Ingress/Egress for an Autonomous Fleet Vehicle

Current automakers are experimenting with autonomous fleet services, for example, an autonomous fleet of city vehicles that are level 4 autonomous (fully autonomous in controlled areas). One thing the team studied was the potential ingress/egress experiences (think doors) that would allow entry and exit from these fleet vehicles. The team was asked to consider an existing sedan-style vehicle as a starting point, and to consider government regulations as well as new methods, mechanisms, and experiences. Should the team decide to relax a government regulation, the deviation must be justified, documented and engineered. General Motors and Georgia Tech sponsored this team. This team was featured on Facebook Live during the event.

Team Interactive Opera

Capital City Opera is collaborating with Georgia Tech on a traditional opera enhanced with cutting-edge technologies. The team sought to augment the production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni with technology and interactive set design that will enhance the audience's experience. The Opera wants a physical wearable: part of a costume for the lead that also interacts with a set piece in the opera, such as the "fog" generator (seen above) that is supposed to be used to simulate the look of fire. The wearable also should log data or sense something that interacts with/gives new information to the audience. Some potential goals for this project: 1) a wearable with an embedded sensor or electronic interaction (RFID) that 2) causes something in the physical set to do something (light up, move etc.) and/or then 3) can be sent to visualize some kind of information or display for the audience. 4) Must be specific to the performance. Capital City Opera sponsored this team.

Team Long Haul Sensor Seat

In the fall of 2017, a previous senior ME/ID capstone team used the General Motors Human-Machine Interaction Lab to create a sensor-enabled seat that used three sensors which could collect data from the driver. Building upon this work, this semester’s team was to apply the seat to a specific context: long-haul trucking. In these environments, drivers are often seated for long periods and this can cause fatigue and road hypnosis. This seat should sense and respond (e.g., interact, move vibrate, inflate, etc.) in order to reduce detrimental effects on long-haul drivers. The team was to consider previous sensor choices, but also whether additional sensors and/or modifications will be required. This project was sponsored by Autodesk and Georgia Tech. At the Expo, this team was approached by a startup incubator that deals with UPS logistics, and was interested in the team's findings.

Team Scoliosis Brace

Scoliosis, curvature of the spine, mainly affects girls 10 and older. It is treated with a back brace, which is worn for many hours every day until the teenager stops growing. Compliance can be a problem and is directly related to whether or not the brace is successful. A need exists for a brace that can monitor use and encourage compliance. Students were tasked with creating a real-time interactive brace monitor. The project required a system that is capable of monitoring when a brace is being worn and an interactive system that reports use and offers some type of incentive. The system should allow for different wear time goals depending on the prescription, and communication with the wearer’s parents and healthcare team. Children's Healthcare of Atlanta sponsored this team. This team was named the best Industrial Design/Mechanical Engineering team and received a $1,000 award.

Team Zoo Monkey

Arboreal primates traditionally spend much of their lives in trees. A few examples of Zoo Atlanta’s arboreal primates include Orangutans, Tamarins, and Angolan Colobus. To offer a more realistic and natural experience, Zoo Atlanta asked the team for a new design to allow arboreal primates to be fed off of the ground. This offers a challenge to the zookeepers. The goal of this project was to design, fabricate, and evaluate an Arboreal Primate Feeder System that 1) can be operated by the keepers to deliver food, 2) is safe for the animals, and 3) promotes natural feeding behaviors that mimic the challenges that exist in the wild. Zoo Atlanta sponsored this team.