Tag Archive | brainstorming

Assignment 5: Proposal

­­­­­­­­­­Our RSA brief asked us to identify a daily journey, either our own or other people’s, and investigate ways to improve it and make the experience better for many people. We were to think of the economic, social, or environmental issues people face during their journeys, and we were encouraged to address these issues. Although the brief was quite specific in that we were only to research daily journeys, it still allowed for a broad range of ideas – travel to college, university, work, and shops and services, by foot, bicycle, bus, train, and car. It also allowed a very wide range of ideas to be developed, as the solutions could be used to improve any area of the journey – the brief would accommodate redesigned vehicles or environments, activities or accessories to better use commuting time spent on public transport, and even advertising or communication campaigns to inform people about different types of travel.

Team 8, consisting of myself, Kristen Neillie, Kirstie Snowdon, Esther Farrell, and Steven Lee, began by brainstorming different daily journeys, focusing on modes of transport like walking, driving, and using public transport. We then brainstormed to find as many issues with these modes of transport as we could, and we found many. The main problem areas we found were issues with public transport, problems created by other people, environmental factors like adverse weather conditions, and problems with self-preparation.


Brainstorming journeys and why they're stressful.

Eventually we decided focus on the daily journey to work or university by car, and through brainstorming we chose to highlight and try to solve problems and issues associated with road rage.

We thought that road rage was an area not really acknowledged or brought into the public eye enough as a day-to-day problem. Although a lot of people look at road rage as being a minor problem, it can cause people to act very aggressively, drive dangerously, and it can sometimes be the cause of accidents. We thought this was an area that deserved investigation, and needed solutions.

Road rage occurs most in busy towns and cities or when a person’s stress levels are high, which fits in to the brief of investigating daily journeys and commutes. Statistics show that traffic jams, pot holes, and even weather conditions can cause us to become stressed and behave in ways which you wouldn’t do normally. In the US approximately 2,500 accidents a year are the direct cause of angry or aggressive drivers; studies have shown that as many as 50% of all road accidents could be attributed to road rage. This goes to show that road rage is a bigger problem than we might initially think, and that there is a need for more extensive research into the problem.

As a team we brainstormed again to come up with ideas for solutions to aid in dealing with road rage, and produced lots of ideas.

More brainstorming.


Moving away from our more abstract ideas (flying cars and Futurama-style mass transit tubes) we focussed on three more doable solutions that came up during our brainstorm – stress balls situated in the car, air conditioning perfumed with calming scents, and an in-car CCTV system to record your behaviour. We chose to develop these ideas over others because they are quite simple and inexpensive, but they could have a large impact on drivers’ moods and behaviours.

To better our understanding of the problems we were looking at, Esther and Kirstie investigated more into the psychology and statistics of road rage, Kristen investigated the use of stress balls to help relieve stress, Steven looked at aromatherapy, researching the effects of different scents on peoples’ moods, and I researched video recording and online communities for use in learning about and changing your behaviour.

Through development and peer feedback we made several adjustments to our original ideas. We realised that letting go of the steering wheel to use a stress ball, albeit with one hand, would be quite dangerous while driving, so we decided that our stress ball would have to fit on to the steering wheel so the driver could access it instantly. This could be a very cost-effective and fun way of tackling stress as it happens. We moved from using the car’s air conditioning to using a simple air freshener design, like many people use in their cars already, which again is cost-effective and simple.

We realised that having a dedicated in-car camera for recording the driver’s behaviour would be quite excessive, so we developed the idea to incorporate a smartphone with a front-facing camera, which many people may already have. The phone could be fixed to the dashboard using a plastic holder, making it easily accessible while driving, and our application could be opened with the press of just one button. We also discussed the app starting automatically when the driver becomes stressed, using some sort of heart monitor, or when loud noises or quick movements happen inside the car. We didn’t develop this idea much further, but the application could be started before the car is even in motion, to reduce any distractions whilst driving.

Application prototype 01.

Starting up the smartphone app is simple.

To sum up, we propose to produce a stress ball-like product that can fit onto the steering wheel of an automobile, so it can be used to provide stress relief while driving. We would also produce air fresheners scented with camomile, bergamot, sandalwood, and rosemary, which are found to be particularly calming on peoples’ moods.

Finally we propose to provide an online service and smartphone application to record and share videos, and connect with other users, to share and learn about their behaviours. The service could be moderated by psychologists who provide advice, and through prompts help the users to reflect on and learn from their behaviour.

Application prototype 02.

An online community for connecting and learning.


Burns, R. G., Katovich, M. A., 2003. Examining Road Rage/Aggressive Driving Media Depiction and Prevention Suggestions. Environment and Behaviour Journal. 35 (5) pp. 621-636.

Dula,C. S., Adams, C. L., Meisner, M. T. and Leonard, R. L. 2010. Examining Relationships between Anxiety and Dangerous Driving. Accident Analysis and Prevention. 42(6):2050-2056.

Huang, J. J. S., Yang, S. J. H., Huang, Y.-M., and Hsiao, I. Y. T., 2010. Social Learning Networks: Build Mobile Learning Networks Based on Collaborative Services. Educational Technology & Society, 13 (3) pp. 78-92.

Huneycutt, J. 2010. Road Rage and You [Online] (01 July 2010) Available at: http://ohsonline.com/articles/2010/07/01/road-rage-and-you.aspx  [Accessed 05 December 2011].

Lupton, D., 2002. Road Rage: Drivers’ Understandings and Experiences.  Journal of Sociology, 38 (3) pp. 275-290.

Park, J.-Y., 2011. Expression and Connection: the Integration of the Reflective Learning Process and the Writing Process into Social Network Sites. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7 (1)

Wickens, C. 2011. Age Group Differences in Self-Reported Aggressive Driving Perpetration and Victimization. Transportation Research, 14 (5) pp. 400-412.


Assignment 2, part 2.

Following on from my previous Assignment 2 post, my team met up at lunch time on Monday for one last bit of discussion and mind mapping. We picked three of the possible solutions for road rage that we brainstormed last time, and made a mind map of how they would work, and how they could be used.

Mind mapping.

Mind mapping our solutions.

We decided that our three best options were:

  1. a stress ball installed as the gear knob in your car
  2. the air conditioning in your car being perfumed with calming scents, like lavender
  3. in-car CCTV, with a camera attached to the rear-view mirror, so that you could play back video of your journey, watch your behaviour, and learn from it; there would also be a service attached to this – an ‘app’ where you could track your progress in learning to deal with your road rage, and a forum where road-ragers could post and talk about their issues
Mind mapping.

A mind map of our 3 final solutions.

I think that all three of these solutions could be used together – squeezing the stress ball could trigger the air conditioning to come on, to cool you down and chill you out with a wee burst of lavender, or your own chosen calming scent, and of course, later on you could review the CCTV footage of you raging in your car and begin to work on your behaviour and learn from your road rage experience. Squeezing the stress ball could even trigger your smartphone app to put a note with a time stamp and a geotag in your calendar, so that you could see if you become stressed at any particular times or places in your journeys.

I have quite enjoyed working on this assignment. It’s been refreshing to work on something that doesn’t entail sitting and working in my material matters sketchbook, and it’s also been a new experience for me to work as part of a team.

Service design.

I’ve heard whispers of the name RedJotter through the grapevine for a while now, but have only really been aware of it in the same way I’m aware of, say, The Wire – something I’ve heard the basic premise of, something that’s meant to be really good, but something that I’ve largely ignored because it’s not what I’m traditionally interested in. The Wire is a really good gritty crime drama. RedJotter is a service designer. Oh, okay.

RedJotter is Lauren Currie, co-founder of Snook, a social innovation and service design outfit based in Glasgow, and a bit of a powerhouse. She came to speak to us Change by Design students on Friday, and held a workshop where we worked in teams to brainstorm, journey map, and design a solution (a service) for a problem. Each team was asked to pick a time when we’d experienced bad service design, and eleven out of twelve teams picked dealing with SAAS. The twelfth team picked public transport.

Brainstorming, journey mapping.

Brainstorming, journey mapping.

My team decided, through brainstorming and journey mapping (mapping the touch-points of a journey – your SAAS awards letter, the phone, being on hold, speaking to someone, etc.) that a lot of peoples’ frustrations came from the call centre way of working (many had tried email, and never even been answered!) – you wait for ages to speak to someone, have to “Press 1 if… Press 2 if…”, and often have to be passed from one member of staff to another. One of our team had received several letters containing wrong information and had to make several phone calls, each time having to explain herself many times and each time speaking to someone different. We decided that each university, or at least each university town, should have its own SAAS branch or office, where you could visit on a certain day or at a certain time designated to your course or where in the alphabet your name falls, and where you have one adviser to help you throughout your whole SAAS experience, so there would be no risk of miscommunication between staff, and fewer “lost” files.



Paper prototyping.

Paper prototyping our feedback system.

I found Friday’s lecture and workshop really interesting and really enjoyable. I found Lauren’s passion and confidence really inspiring – it’s difficult to imagine that she was once me, just a second year design student who hadn’t found “her thing” yet.

I had never thought much about service design before. I imagined it was just the domain of suited-up bigwigs, who decide how their companies should be run. I still find it a little bit difficult to connect everything Lauren spoke about to myself, I suppose, like I said, because I haven’t really found “my thing” yet. Even so, I really enjoyed the whole day, and I look forward to seeing how far RedJotter and Snook will go!

Assignment 2, part 1.

Last Friday as part of Change by Design we were split into teams of around five people and introduced to the concept of brainstorming as a way to come up with ideas, names, solutions, designs, anything. We were encouraged to brainstorm in two different ways – either by every team member writing ideas on Post-Its and shouting out their ideas, or by having one team member nominated as a scribe to write down all the ideas of the other team members. I think I preferred the Post-It method – everybody is allowed the same level of input, and hearing other peoples’ ideas shouted out often inspires new ideas to pop into your head.

Today I met with my team to work on the 2nd Change by Design assignment. For this assignment, each team was given a brief at random from the RSA’s Student Design Awards. We got brief 8 – The Good Journey (PDF). “Make people look forward to their daily commute.” is the theme to work to.

We did a bit of brainstorming about what makes peoples’ daily commutes so stressful, and among such suggestions as uneven pavements, pavement hoggers, and drivers who don’t indicate, we settled on looking at road rage in more detail. I don’t think people would mind quite so much the daily car journeys if only there were ways to instantly relieve your stress or anger whilst you were still experiencing it.


Brainstorming journeys and why they're stressful.

We then brainstormed to try to find the reasons why people get road rage, and to find solutions for it, coming up with things like in-car punching bags, squeezy stress balls installed in every car, and just having a chauffeur so that you don’t have to do any of the driving yourself. I, personally, like my suggestion of inventing mass transit tubes like in Futurama! We plan to meet up again soon to complete the assignment, discuss in more detail our ideas (I hope to come up with more – maybe over the next few days when I’m in the car I’ll think of something, because I get road rage even as a passenger!), and settle on one final solution to the ubiquitous road rage problem.

More brainstorming.

Brainstorming road rage.

More mind mapping.

Mind mapping The Good Journey.

Although I was a bit dubious about being placed in a team with people I don’t know, I realise now that it can actually be very beneficial. It’s very refreshing to speak to people from different disciplines, who are interested in completely different subjects to me, and who will probably take away from this exercise some vastly different opinions and ideas to the ones I do.