3RD Year BSC Product Design. Technical Report: Personal Development Plan (PDP)

For our first day back of the final year of BSC Product Design at Cardiff Met, we were introduced to our next major project. This being the Technical Report. As I have been dreading having to finally produce such a large worded document since knowing about it back in the first year, I have not been looking forward to this day. This may be due to the fact that writing has always been my most prominent weakness when it comes to education, as I would always avoid such essay based projects as the subjects I enjoyed throughout school (Art and Design Technology) did not require me to do so.

When it came to selecting an area of choice, I became stuck immediately. I did not want to chose a subject of my hobby as this can often produce biased results, but on the other side, I had to chose a topic I would enjoy and not get bored with after a couple of days of research. After much thought and planing, I decided to go with ‘Augmented Reality’. It was a topic that at the time i thought I already knew much about. With AR products involved in interests areas of mine (Gaming and Sport), but this was not the case as after thorough research, I realized these products fell into a different category of technology (Oculus rift is a gaming device which is thought of by many as being an AR head mounted display (HMD), but this is not the case as it sits in the virtual reality category). Also, with this being the last year of the course, it had me thinking, what direction do I want to take after I have left, what career area would i like to pursue, with electronic items and technology being a great interest to me.  Once I had started writing the proposal, we would meet with our tutor to discuss possible directions, which from this I gained confidence towards getting started with research.

As well as writing our technical reports, we had other projects going on along side which ended up being an issue with the term. In previous years I have usually managed to get started with a project early on, and get substantial amount of work done, always providing great results. However, this year has been the opposite of that and has been a struggle. With other project work going badly, week after week I would be restarting a new project in my subject, which ended up inhaling a large amount of my time and focus and take my mind away from the work needed for the report. After sitting down with my lecturers and discussing possible options, I managed to find away of solving this.

From here I decided to dedicate the next few weeks to solid research and writing for my report, getting back on track to make sure I would manage to complete this as it has priority over the subject project. Once I was engaging with research in a certain direction, I was finding other areas to look into, until i reached a point I had too many areas of direction and they needed cutting down; which of course is a better situation to be in than not know where to go next.

In my report, I looked into the different ways in which Augmented Reality can function. As the technology is becoming extremely popular within existing consumer products (Google Glass and Layar), I began looking into how this is being developed for future uses. With doing so, I was introduced to several industrial uses AR will benefit in the near future and doing so has give me the confidence to know that the futuristic technologies used withing science fiction movies of the past (Terminator and Robocop) is soon to be a reality.

Along side the secondary research, I looked into getting hands on with the project by testing the different forms of sensors used as a vital tool when portraying an augmented image. These were the sensors included within modern day smartphones; both the gyroscope and accelerometer. From testing these I learnt how reliant one is in conjunction to the other. As some mobile phones only have the one, when using the device to track an imposed image into the real world (AR), the projection will contain large delays and lagging, whereas with both, no problems are found no matter how complex the digital overlay would be, whether that being a single image, video or three dimensional moving object.

Once I had managed to get the majority of the technical report finished, I then had to put this new found information to use, writing a small amount of words a day just so I didn’t forget about completion. With Augmented Reality being a technology and not a material or object, I came to another standstill as there is so much potential for such a powerful form of technology, but where can I use it. From this I brainstormed multiple possible ideas. After looking into areas of needs for a new design, I came about information regarding ‘Ikeas’ awful presentation style of instructions to assemble their items. I had heard people mention this in the past but personally, I have never had the issue. After further research, and gathering enough user feedback (Surveys conducted), there was enough evidence to suggest that this style of instructing a person could also be beneficial with the use of AR. Continuing this project and having enough research to support my desired direction, I came up with the idea of a mobile application to supply those in need of helpful guidance with easy access from their smartphone. This would be used with image recognition technology (also used within such existing apps as Layar and Aurasma) which when the person points the camera of the mobile device towards his ikea furniture box, the desired instructions will appear on screen with the ability to interact with, being able to check off steps completed as he goes along. Whilst doing so, I managed to create a detailed flowchart of the exact applications interface functions, allowing the reader to know way around app with ease. Also, with the help of existing AR apps, i was able to create my own working imposed imagery instructions.

When I had complete focus on this report, i found myself enjoying what i was doing. As soon as I was having slight problems in a different area I found myself making no progress but instead worrying and creating stress for myself with the built up of work happening on both sides. From this report I have learnt that I am able to produce research in an effective manner when I make the effort.

Since conducting my report on Augmented Reality, I tend to catch myself constantly informing people, that if an advert or television programme shows this technology used, I will say” that is Augmented Reality!” spreading the word of such a technology.