With my technology working, this freed up a lot of time for me to start thinking about the form and materials I'd want to use for the final prototype. When designing products I'm inspired by retro products and how I can give them a modern feel. Likewise, I love products that have a tactile interaction which can be adapted to trigger digital interactions.
For this project, since I was focusing on a building entry device, I was inspired by punch clocks and specifically the action of pushing a card into the machine. I wanted to replicate this for my own product - punch the card in to trigger the digital interaction. I created a mood board of inspirations - ranging from the old industrial clocks to modern looking products and how I could blend them together. I really liked the idea of using a speech bubble as the main shape - almost like the building is having a conversation with the user.
I began exploring form with cardboard - prototypes ranged from traditional shapes based on the punch clocks and from current wall scanners to more abstract shapes such as a cloud and cookies. I did a few models of the speech bubble as I really liked the metaphor of giving the building a voice, and an opinion on the user punching in to the building.
Once happy with the general form, I played around with the technology - mainly feedback for the user. With lights I felt I could get a nice subtle feedback for the user. I initially looked at recreating the clock face using lights that would react when the card is punched in. When I tested it against the different materials however, the lights were quite overwhelming together and it didn't just work.
Instead, I stripped it back to 2 lights and opted for a fade to make the lights seem a bit more smoother. With one light have a constant fade as well, it almost looked the device was breathing while it's waiting to interact with a card. The other light only flashed when the card is being scanned, to give the user the impression that something is happening in the background as their card is being analysed. Once the card is analysed the light flashes on for several seconds indicating for the user to remove their card. I tested this with paper and acrylic and was a lot happier with how the light diffused through the materials.
Finally, I made a quick laser cut prototype to make sure I had the correct sizes for embedding the technology. To reduce bulk inside, I planned to solder the circuit and lose the breadboard.