Week #7

Assignment #7.1

June 16, 2013

Beta prototype

Actually it would be too optimistic to call it final...

My gap

In what way might we notice that our phone is ringing even if we cannot hear it?

Want to know more? Read the whole story.

User needs

  • The Alerter signals that the phone is ringing
  • The Alerter is rather unexpensive
  • The Alerter is easy to install
  • The Alerter is easy to use
  • The Alerter can be installed in different ways
  • The Alerter is unobtrusive
  • The Alterter does not need a power surge

Naming process

Back in week two, when I was just refining the gap, the artifact was simply an alerter. Then, in week three, when I had to envision ten different ideas, the seed from which the actual prototype was born was called the waver. Obviously it is a little generic, and don't really evoke what the product is about: signal that someone is calling us on the phone, even if we can not hear. Ok, it's short, but not good enough. And the domain is taken.

I have then followed the suggested process, concentrating just on the product because I'm already ok with the company name, starting with some dictionary words:
  • waver
  • alerter
  • phone
  • caller
  • flag
  • blink
  • flash
  • com
  • signal
  • move
  • motion
Then I tried lingzini.com to add some prefixes and suffixes, but it took a while before I realized how it really worked.  Maybe it's just me... or maybe the affordance could be improved. Some new words come out of this process:

  • exophone
  • telewaver
  • prowaver
  • starcaller
  • phonerion (double suffix!)
  • blinkphonator

Anyway, I couldn't get the gist of it when it came to combining, as I wanted to use two lists but it looks like the software only considers one. Some of the results were the following:
  • waveralert
  • waverphone
  • waverflag
  • waverflash
  • wavermotion
  • waverphone
  • alertwaver
  • alertmotion
  • phonewaver
  • phonemotion
  • phonealert
  • callwaver
  • callflag
  • callmotion
  • callerflag
  • flagwaver
  • flagalerter
  • flagmotion
  • comblink
  • movewaver
Then I sort of ad-libbed a bit
  • callandwave
  • phoneandwave
  • wave-a-phone
  • wave-a-call
  • flag-a-call
  • saveacall
At this point I had some names to compare; after writing them down, evaluating and sorting by highest score I got the following table:

After a bit of experimenting and survey I setteld for waveacall. I know that, particularly for physical artifacts, it is important to go globally from the first day, so even if our site is in the .it domain I checked the .com one, which is available. That's it!

Beta prototype

This week I investigated the actual interaction with the phone line, as I already had a working prototype with which I could fake telephone calls. A couple of weeks ago I tested its predecessors, this week I accurately tested the effectivity of the alpha prototype I built last week observing the reaction of the users, which were good.

When the phone rings it should blink and wave, so it was time to abandon my Wizard-of-Oz prorotyping, connect my artifact it to a real phone line and test the real thing. Of course there is a circuit to be built... after a bit of investigating and experimenting (ok, and asking an engineer friend of mine) I foud the following circuit designed by Jake:

When the phone rings it triggers the LED. But we still have to move the servo. All we have to do is connect the wire that enters pin 1 of the optocoupler to an analog pin of the Arduino board I'm using to prototype my artifact: when the voltage is bigger than a certain threshold (it seems it depends on your country) the servo starts moving, thus waving the signal. The corresponding sketch is quite easy.

#include <Servo.h> 
Servo myservo;
int threshold = 128; // this depends on your county
int pos = 0;
void setup() 
void loop() 
  if (analogRead(A0) > threshold) {
  for(pos = 0; pos < 180; pos += 1)
    for(pos = 180; pos>=1; pos-=1) 

Next steps

For this week I have still used an Arduino board, but after that I will swap it for an ATtiny45 which is way cheaper and it's very small, so that it can fit into the case I built. When everything works correctly I will further develop the case, which at the moment is just a proof of concept (a square box is not too cool).

After that... I will stop missing telephone calls :-)

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