WaiterLite Smart Coaster Update


Since we last met I did a lot of field research. I visited several bars. I shared my prototype with bartenders, got some feedback and made many observations about my audience. All of which improved on my product design (see the above).

The physical prototype is still a work in progress but I learned alot about how to improve my design. Below are my learnings so far:

The Bartenders

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This is Rebecca. Rebecca is a bartender at Bedford Hall.  She told me that as a bartender she can’t attend to everyone, so it’s more important that the wait staff that takes drinks over to the tables be her eyes and ears.  She thinks the smart coaster idea is more important to the waitresses than to her because its their job to go over to the people and bring drink orders back to the bartender. Rebecca also suggested that I move the LEDs from the outside of the coaster to the middle of the coaster.  Her feedback was that the LEDs could be distracting in a dimly lit space, so its better to defuse the light through the drinking glass.

The Glasses

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After visiting several different bars I learned that I have to account for six different kinds of drinks glasses. There is water, wine, beer, martini, whiskey and a mixed drink glasses. When placed on my FSR sensor each register a different weight.  This presents a challenge because in my current arduino sketch the bartender would have to calibrate the coaster to each glass.

My current design solution is to calibrate the coaster to recognize all the weights. I did this by storyboarding the optimal use case scenario of my coaster.


IMG_0103 Puesdo Code

I learned quickly that it is far easier to show how to use the coaster than to explain it.  So I sketched out what the ideal scenario would look like when the smart coaster is in use.  I also found this technique helpful when it came to re-writing my code.

When planning out how to revise my code I sketched out what each step should look like. This is slightly different than sketching out a storyboard for users. Sketching out code is called Puedo Code.  It maps out each technical step of my use case scenario. For example “flash yellow LED’s when the coaster is processing”,  this helps me understand how I need to write code to meet these conditions.


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After taking in lots of feedback, I began to plan out how I wanted to revise my concept. the above photo shows how I began thinking about revising my cardboard prototype into wood. I used a laser cutter to cut out my materials.


Currently I am considering different way to reduce the size of my concept.  As is the form factor is to large.  I found some sample projects on instructable here and here I want to take a look at.  Revisions coming soon.


Author: George Crichlow

About Me: I am a Strategist interested in the relationships between people, culture and technology. My ambition is to create products and services that have commercial and cultural impact.

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