Remote-controlled Mobile Phone Apps Designed by Students

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Six teams comprised of forty Year 2 students from the Department of Industrial Design at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University (XJTLU) showcased their interaction design studio projects, centered on professionally designed mobile phone applications (apps), last week.

The apps included: a remote-controlled fish tank for children; voice-over-IP connected plush toy allowing parents on business trips to sing lullabies to their babies at home; an interior lighting and mood control system; a TV remote control system for elderly users; and an app to start home and office appliances such as air conditioners before the users' arrival.

The display was developed to not only give students a well-deserved sense of accomplishment, but to communicate XJTLU students’ creative innovation to the wider community.

Dr Thomas Fischer, from XJTLU’s Department of Architecture and Department of Industrial Design, and Director of XJTLU’s Design Research Institute said, “Creative design and human-centered innovation are of growing importance in China’s development. XJTLU is situated in Suzhou Industrial Park, a hotbed of industrial activity with which we are developing various connections and collaborations. Our industrial design undergraduate programme strikes a balance between human-oriented, creative aspect on the one hand and the technical engineering aspect on the other hand.”

After surveying users, Zhiyuan Yu’s team identified that two to three year old children cannot sleep quietly when their primary caregivers are not at home. Based on this issue, the team designed a voice-over-IP connected plush toy which allows parents who are not at home to sing songs and read stories to their children.

“As long as the smart chip is installed in the toy, the parent who is not at home can read stories and sing songs for children by operating the app that can be installed on their mobile phone. We designed the app and programming ourselves with guidance from our teachers”, said Zhiyuan Yu.

Yuanfeng Hu’s team designed a remote-controlled fish tank which enables fish to be fed remotely. People can observe the fish tank at home through a camera on the mobile phone and also turn the fish tank light on or off using the mobile phone app. As the mobile phone is shaken the fish food container will drop fish food into the tank.

“We divided students into different teams and they needed to finish projects through team work. Staff discussed various topics with students, provided related guidance and then students completed the task themselves. Our programme aims to encourage students to think more creatively, continually try technological innovation and set up relationships and cooperation with surrounding enterprises”, said Dr Fischer.

The Department of Industrial Design at XJTLU focuses on user-centered product and systems design for society in response to social, cultural and technical needs. The Department sets out to educate a new generation of industrial and product designers who able to understand and participate in China’s ongoing social, cultural and economic transformation through achieving a balance of creative and technical knowledge and competencies.

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