We partnered with the Quality of Life Technology Center to design the Forget-Me-Not, an inexpensive RFID device that notifies people when they are forgetting to bring important personal belongings with them.
4 months (part-time)
Jan. 2013 – Apr. 2013
Ben Antoine, Vivian Ma, Ninar Nuemah, Siri Ramos, Jessica Uphoff
Engineering design course project with special attention paid to marketability, cost, and feasibility.
Project Manager and UX Designer
Conducted market research
Designed and analyzed survey
Established 5 design objectives
Evaluated design alternatives
Led weekly meetings with experts
Led weekly peer reviews
Delegated work to develop a working prototype in 3 weeks
Managing editor of final report
Our research uncovered two opportunities
Forgetfulness is an all too common experience that can plague some people more than others
I’m sure you’ve experienced it before: leaving your laptop, employee badge, or something important behind at your house and having to go all the way back to retrieve it. Or, worse yet, forgetting your credit card at a restaurant! Any scenario like this can get your day off to a bad start. For some people, forgetfulness is an all too common experience that can impact them daily.
Some items should never be left behind
People with life-threatening allergies must carry an EpiPen with them to administer during emergencies. New mothers must remember their baby diaper bag and bottles.
How the Forget-Me-Not works
The Forget-Me-Not is an electronic device that helps people remember to bring their important personal belongings with them when they are in their vehicle.
Step 1: Apply RFID stickers to six important personal belongings
Step 2: Label the device’s lights with icon stickers
Step 3: Plug device into vehicle
Every time she starts her car, the RFID device checks for missing items. The device dings if something is missing and the flashing light indicates which item is missing.
Market research to identify an opportunity gap
At this stage, we knew that we wanted to design a device that helps people keep track of their items. We used market research to see if there was an opportunity gap for either 1) a bring-it-with-you reminder device or 2) an item-finder device. We searched for existing products in both categories and read their online reviews.
We decided to design a reminder device with an easy set-up and seamless integration into a person’s lifestyle.
- There were already many item-finder devices that people were satisfied with.
- There was only one reminder device, the Trackr. Reviewers liked the concept but thought the setup of alert hotspots was too difficult and did not know when to expect alerts.
- RFID or Bluetooth can be used to keep track of items.
I conducted a Mechanical Turk survey with 96 participants.
- Which contexts would be best to perform a check for missing items?
- What price point should we aim for?
- What types of items do people commonly leave behind?
- How many items do people regularly bring with them?
Our device should work in two key scenarios and be priced under $32.04.
Survey participants report frequently leaving items behind at their house. However, participants place the most value on a device that would remind them when they are leaving an item behind at a place that they are visiting (such as a restaurant) because it is not likely that it will be recovered before it is stolen and it would be inconvenient to retrieve. We designed Forget-Me-Not to work in both contexts.
Reminder When Leaving Home
- Occurs more frequently
- 39% said this is the most important context
- Average willingness to pay: $25.88
Our device should track 6 must-have items.
To simplify the device, we decided to focus on must-have items. We used the average number of items that people bring with them to determine how many items to track.
Most people have 4-6 must-have items such as their wallet, cellphone, keys, laptop, and employee badge.
A few times each week, people must remember to bring specific items with them, such as reusable grocery bags for shopping or their child’s soccer bag for practice.
5 Design Objectives and Constraints
Based on our research, we identified several objectives and constraints that can guide our design decisions.
- Seamless integration into a person’s lifestyle
- Forgotten item alerts when leaving their homes and visited places
- Priced under $32.04
- Easy setup process
- Clear communication of system status and missing items
Design decisions based on constraints
Before we brainstormed design alternatives, we reviewed the constraints to narrow the scope.
Early Design Decisions
- To achieve seamless integration into the person’s lifestyle, we decided to perform checks automatically.
- Due to the target price of $32.04 (including markup), we knew that Bluetooth tracking would be too expensive so we decided to use RFID technology.
- The check can be performed when a user enters the vehicle context so that it works when leaving home or when leaving visited places
We used a morphological chart to identify compelling designs by quickly analyzing several combinations of options.
I led the iterative design process that allowed us to evaluate several features, form factors, and technical components. For each design cycle, we presented a prototype to the client and peers for feedback.
We sketched the designs to present them to our client and 60 people during a design review.
Choosing a design
The Pugh Chart helped us to evaluate the design options based on several criteria. We keep feedback from the design review in mind as we evaluated.
- Pursue Design 1
- Communicate system status and missing items through lights
- Physical setup instead of programming it (as in Design 2)
Based on feedback from peers that users may forget to refer to the device, we added audio as way to draw the user’s attention. We also worked on the design of the setup process and the design of the casing to hold all electrical components. We created a CAD rendering to show these updates during a design review.
- Powered through the vehicle’s USB port
- Audio for alerts
- An easy setup with RFID stickers and removable, vinyl icon labels for the device
- Icons instead of text to label lost icons
- Use of color to associate the alert with the RFID sticker on the belonging
- Ergonomic casing
For the final prototype, we attempted to build out the technology to see how realistic and expensive it is to implement. The design review helped us identify the proper electrical components to use.
The prototype is larger than the intended size because smaller electrical components were not available during the three-week build timeframe. The casing was been modeled in CAD and printed on a 3D printer. Our final prototype was very successful in indicating which items were in RFID range. We discovered one design flaw which is that items may appear to be in range if they are near the vehicle but not inside it. We fine tuned the appropriate range to mitigate the problem.
Materials from China
3D Printed Casing with Vinyl Decals Applied
Our electrical engineer, Nimar
In a 38-page report, we documented the research findings, design process, and design specifications for the client and new designers taking over the project. I edited the report and designed simple graphics for added clarity.