a model of a small kitchen

Crowdsourcing Microapartments

First Build is a crowdsourcing platform that works with companies to facilitate R&D. I think each company can customize the details of the arrangement, but basically:

  • the company sets up a very general design challenge.
  • the crowd then gets an ideation stage to set up different directions that they want to pursue.
  • there is a crowd discussion system to modify each direction until they are ready to start designing.
  • a crowd voting system decides which directions to pursue.
  • there is a prototyping stage where they partner with 3D Printing shops like MakerBot.
  • if the company likes any of the ideas that emerge, it can sink the $millions into mass production.

The advantage to the company is that the time from concept to working model is radically shortened. The crowd gets a percent of revenue. In one pilot project, GE Appliances submitted a project for innovations on its washing machine and I think the crowd got 1% of revenue for three years.

My Take

I am a big fan of the crowdsourcing model when it is set up strategically. So this sounds like a good thing to me. But my post today regards a new project that is on First Build’s site as we speak. Loyal readers know that I have a particular interest in microapartments. They allow people to live in expensive cities without going broke. They have smaller carbon footprints. There is less to clean and maintain. And they force innovation because of the small size. The design challenge on First Build right now is to design a functional kitchen in a 7 ft x 2 ft space that could be located in a downtown Manhattan apartment (but also could be in a vacation RV or a live-in trailer).

What makes this is an excellent HF/E project is how many different dimensions you need to think about.

  • What are the key use cases that you need to satisfy and which ones can be sacrificed?
  • What are the ergonomic constraints you need to satisfy so that residents can do what they need to do, safely, repetitively, and effectively?
  • What are the longer term affective criteria that you need to support so that the resident feels good about their kitchen (after all, this is their home)?
  • What safety measures need to be integrated for fire and other acute hazards?
  • What environmental issues need to be supported, such as waste management and water use?
  • Can you integrate any sophisticated smart home intelligence into the appliances or ambient environment to make it run smoother, better, safer, or more pleasurable?

Your Turn

If any of you decide to give it a go, let us know. Post a link to your submission on First Build right here in the comments. And for a finder’s fee, I am fully negotiable.

Image credit: Elektron

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