A four person, 10-week project to integrate video eyewear technology in a warehouse setting.
This project was part of a design and entrepreneurship course I took in the spring of 2014. My team worked with a company that designs wearable video displays for military applications. The challenge was to integrate this technology into the logistics market.
Working with a local industrial supply warehouse, we created a hands free system that displayed order information on the head mounted display and decreased the amount of time for a worker to assemble an order by 2-3 seconds per item scanned. This equates to significant savings for a supplier of this size over a single day as well as less pressure on an assembly worker.
MY ROLE: market and existing product research, user observations, and design documentation
RESEARCH + DESIGN PROCESS
MARKET RESEARCH + VALUE FOR VIDEO EYE WEAR IN WAREHOUSING
I conducted background research on current and emerging larger-scale warehouse operations to identify a promising application area for video eyewear. Studies of current distribution center processes indicated an high amount of pressure for workers to meet increasingly shorter turnaround times. With greater desired efficiency and a growing complexity of the process, more warehouses are willing to introduce new technology to help streamline their process.
The need to simplify and move away from outdated bar code scanner technology indicated an opportunity for video eye wear displays to integrate into warehouse processes.
ON-SITE OBSERVATION + TESTING
Partnership with a local industrial supply warehouse helped us identify a realistic application of the technology and gain feedback from potential video eyewear users.
From on-site observations, we were able to draw the following major conclusions:
The video eyewear device could replace handheld traditional barcode scanners, with information displayed on the hands free eyepiece instead of on a scanner screen.
The device had to function properly for a 12-hour shift and be adjustable for wear by different users. This influenced our choice of operating system as well as design of the wearable eye piece.
INTEGRATION: ASSEMBLY PROCESS
For the video eyewear integration, we kept the current order of operations and added the convenience of a hands free system.
Because items still needed to be scanned, we chose a compact wearable bar code scanner to retrieve product information. This information could then be sent to a microcontroller which would display relevant details on the eye piece.
For prototyping purposes a compact laptop was used to test the process of scanning information and viewing it on the eye piece.
INTEGRATION: HEAD MOUNT
With a wearable technology product, we needed to ensure safety, comfort, ease of use, and adjustability in all components. This meant designing a head mount that would be comfortable to wear throughout an entire shift, and would not restrict a worker's range of motion, hearing or vision. This was achieved by fitting a custom 3D printed part on adjustable head lamp straps. The renderings here show the 3D printed part in blue and the eye piece in dark grey.
Our team of four identified a direct application for the video eyewear device in a distribution center, serving as an example of how this technology can be implemented in the logistics market on a wider scale.
We streamlined the flow of information to an assembly worker, making their tasks more manageable and saving time with every order. More serious pilot testing with a prototype consisting of a microcrontroller and a robust mount design would provide better benchmarking of how the product will function in a 12-hour operation period.