The show was a huge learning experience for us, especially because we intend to launch a commercial product out of this project. The following post is an attempt to break it down in –
Elevator Pitch – MagnaKit is a toolkit which will enable people to design and build medium scale lightweight kinetic structures quickly and easily. People responded well to it as it pushed them to imagine the various applications this could be used for.
Hardware – We showcased a large variety of joints and demonstrated the anatomy of air muscles. Most people did not know about the air muscles from before and were fascinated by the mechanism. Visitors from engineering and robotics backgrounds had a lot of comments around the joints and their viability. We also observed that the first time people tried to use the kit to build simple geometries, they struggled and mostly gave up. But after a few tries, they got better quickly. Few visitors assembled their own kinetic structures and plugged it into the pneumatic system to activate the structures.
Interactive Control System – We spent a fair amount of time on the design and aesthetics of the control system, and it was worth it. Visitors admired the futuristic look and feel of the system and loved moving a large structure in front of them by just turning the tiny knobs around. Visitors from engineering background were very curious about the exact mechanism underneath the box.
Interactive software backed by Genetic Algorithm – Most visitors found this aspect fascinating and useful. We received lots of interesting suggestions for computer scientists, UX designers, and other professional people about how to improve the software. Some visitors were excited about the potential to build a database of such structures, and share it as an open source library.
Commerical angle – A lot of people were curious about the markets we intend to target. From discussions which emerged, it seems like marketing it as an educational kit for engineers, architects etc makes a lot of sense.
Overall, we got a lot of interesting ideas worth pursuing. What we need now, is to relax, sit back and think about what’s important, and what’s excess. Clear the clutter race towards the goal.