1. The name you will give your artifact. — I would call it the “Bri-Den” (because it brightens my den,) but that is just too cheesy…

2. One or more nice images of your prototype. — Well, I used the wrong type of material for waterproofing. The thick coats of paint were adequate, but the construction adhesive turned our NOT to be waterproof. So when it rained the other day, the edging sloughed off and doesn’t look very pretty! I have to scrape it off and re-seal with caulk.

3. Some background on the gap — I live in a basement apartment, so there’s not much natural light. I wanted to devise a way to increase the amount of light entering the room. (Mirrors inside the room only bounce the existing light around. A mirror placed outside the room can direct more light into the room.)

4. next steps to further refine and develop your artifact — re-seal the edges with caulk for better waterproofing.

5. Any other information —  For grading purposes, please keep in mind that this application is for personal use. This was not designed for mass production.

The Coursera class is now finished — phew! No more homework and midnight deadlines for a while. While this course was bent a bit towards commercial product development, I did learn quite a bit and revitalized my interest in 3D printing and fabrication. More on that later…

Week 5 — 5.1 Concept Testing

Refined problem statement: “In what way might I utilize a reflective mirror outside of my window to increase the levels of natural light in my room?”

list of needs.

Must be sturdy
Must be waterproof!
Easy to remove!
Adaptable to surroundings
 Must not consume electricity!
 Must be reasonably priced
 Must not block outside view
 Must not create blinding glare inside room
 Safety -- Must not get hot due to sunlight
   No parts should degrade /fail due to exposure to sunshine
   No any sharp edges


  1. The concept I’m pursuing is my original concept here, except for the holes:
  2. I showed my concepts to my husband, who shares the space in question with me. He agreed that the current iteration works the best.


Selection Matrix:

After I built my prototype, I remembered that the gap was for ME, not commercial production! Somehow I got distracted thinking about Professor Karl’s scooter and injection molds and all kinds of huge ideas for a consumer product. So I don’t think I’ll actually USE the selection matrix I made!  🙂



Prototype photos:

I was excited about my periscope idea (concept H,) but I after actually trying to build it, I saw that there was less light below my window and more above. So I couldn’t attach it with hooks. I made some “rope” from plastic shopping bags and tried to hang it. It did increase the interior light level, but only very slightly.


I found that my periscope concept would require a much taller, larger box in order to produce enough light to make a difference in my room.



For concept F, I abandoned the tension rod since I could not craft hinges strong enough. I ended up playing around with the mirrors and eventually returned to my original concept from Week 1. It worked very well and really brightened the room noticeably.



2.1 DESIGN PROBLEM DEFINITION (P) – refine the definition of the design problem using the five-whys methodology.

In what way might I…
contribute to a more smooth family relationship
improve performance of daily tasks
improve my sleep cycle and general well-being

*increase the levels of natural light in my room
create a “daylighting” device (doesn’t cut holes in walls or ceilings)
install reflective mirrors outside of window

2.2 USER NEEDS (P) – 3 points

1.  a refinement of your one-sentence problem statement. — “To increase the levels of natural light in my room using a, sturdy, externally-mounted reflective device”
2. A list of at least 30 user needs.

3. Identification of one or more latent needs with an exclamation point (!).

Reflective Natural Light Enhancer
Must be sturdy
1. Must survive windy conditions
2. !Must be waterproof!
3. Must be animal-proof (cats, squirrels)
4. Must not damage building facade
Must be simple
5. Easy to install
6. !Easy to remove!
7. Relatively lightweight
8. Lanyards/pulls cannot get tangled
9. Must be easy to clean
Adaptability to surroundings
10. Must fit many window types
11. Must be easily adjustable at different times of daylight
12. Must not need constant adjusting
13. Must not disturb nearby neighbors
14. Must not protrude farther from building than a regular air conditioner
15. !Must not consume electricity!
16. Must be reasonably priced
Must be aesthetically pleasing
17. Must not block outside view
18. Must not create blinding glare inside room
19. Must not be ugly
20. Must not look too cheap
21. Should not color fade due to sunlight
22. Must not get extremely hot due to sunlight
23. No parts should melt due to sun’s heat
24. No parts should degrade and fail due to exposure to sunshine
25. Must not have any sharp edges
26. Should not entrap birds who view their own reflection
Logistical/Retail Issues
27. Should fit easily into a small car
28. Should be easy to carry as one package/one-handed
29. Item’s purpose should be clear by looking at it
30. Should not require assembly (only installation)


•    A sketch of a chair from the top view, front view and side view. Also sketch one cross section of some portion of the same chair. Compose these four sketches on one sheet. Label the views.


WEEK 1 — Assignment 1.1 Good Design, Assignment 1.2 Find the Gap

Assignment 1.1 Good Design

This wallet-style cellphone case (Amazon link) protects my phone AND saves me time otherwise spent digging in my purse for cards or money.

cellphone case IMG_20131015_170837

Assignment 1.2 Find the Gap

*1. Increase natural light in my apartment
2. Develop motivation system for studying Kanji characters
3. Deal with “doorblockers” on the subway
4. Match my personality type to appropriate employment
5. Develop a system to automate my file backups
6. Find a way to use Facebook only sporadically, yet not alienate some friends who are heavy users
7. Produce 50 greeting cards in less than 3 hours or as swiftly as possible
8. Create a logo for my Etsy page
9. Find a better anniversary gift reminder system
10. Develop a rewards system for exercise


Chair sketch (click to enlarge):


Assignment 1.4  DESIGN FOR YOU

visual expression of the design: Adjustable Exterior Mirror



photograph of prototype: My window, and room interior:


Prototype mirror added outside window, and resulting slight change in light level:



MY GAP — Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society via Coursera.org

A device which will increase the amount of natural light entering my apartment.

The gap I’ve chosen meets the course project criteria because

-I experience its effects daily

-some of my friends also experience it

-I believe I can research this gap and develop a prototype solution within 8 weeks

Edit 8 Jan 2013 – This blog was started as an assignment in the Coursera class:

Design: Creation of Artifacts in Society

by Karl T. Ulrich, University of Pennsylvania