Knit Hero created at #ideomake

by Andreas Koller

I’ve spent the last two days at the IDEO make-a-thon, a workshop where 78 people met to think, create and make. The 12 challenges on the topic of „superhuman“ have been meticulously chosen by IDEO staff. Our challenge, entitled „Super Games“, was how we might help the elderly strengthen their skills through play.

„Make ideas tangible as fast as you can.“
OpenIDEO credo

The creative process from the initial question to the launch of the product is in 7 stages: Question > Insight > Synthesis > Ideation > Prototyping > Formative > Launch. Surprisingly, the brainstorming process needs strict regulations to work. Summarizing OpenIDEO’s rules of brainstorming:

1. Defer judgment
„There are no bad ideas at this point. There is plenty of time to judge later.“

2. Encourage wild ideas
Come up with the most silliest idea you can. It might be your breakthrough! This is especially hard, as we all have trains of thought we’re used to. We tend to go down the same lane and come up with similar ideas. Try to be ridiculous in your thinking, and later bring it down to earth.

3. Build on the ideas of others
„Think ‚and‘ rather than ‚but‘.“

4. Stay focused on the topic
Every now and then, look at your initial question.

5. One conversation at a time
All ideas must be heard. Brainstormings tend to get messy, so don’t interrupt and let people finish speaking.

6. Be visual
Thinking in drawings works better, is quicker and more memorable later. Left & right side of the brain working together!

7. Go for quantity
Make lots of stuff quickly. Build to think.

„Fail fast to succeed sooner.“
David Kelly, IDEO Founder

Our challenge: Super Games

I’ve teamed up with Nadine Stares (IDEO), Miranda Schnitger (Fundraiser, Sadler’s Wells), Wyn Griffiths (Product Design Programme Leader, Middlesex University) and Brendan Dawes (Maker) and we’ve been facing the challenge Super Games. We had to think about the 60+ generation and tried to identify key problems that could be solved with a smart service or product idea. We first made some general observations and found positive and negative aspects of age: experience, wisdom, time and space, but on the other hand technophobia, physical immobility, feeling irrelevant, isolated and disconnected. We then set our main goal to connect the elderly amongst each other and back to society and we wanted to create a playful way to make digital tools less scary.

What we came up with is a game with knitting needles as the interface for a social platform: we call it „Knit Hero“ (working title).

We designed a logo, selected fonts and a color palette, and in the end even had a quick mockup of a website, as well as a working physical prototype and several models of „knitting needle data collection devices“.

Brainstorming progress:






So when we started prototyping, there were three key questions to answer:
Inspire: What could be?
Evolve: What should be?
Execute: What will be?


While the first step allows for quantity and producing lots of ideas, during evolution and execution the focus is on quality until the best idea survives.

Photo by Brendan Dawes shows Wyn’s prototypes.

Prototype built in Processing by Brendan. We use a nunchuck to sense the movement of the needles.

Social platform:

We sketched how the website for the community could look like. It should show in a simple and accessible way the current projects and the progress, as well as future challenges and offer the possibility to connect with friends.



There’s also a full mockup of the website.

Our final presentation (yes, we even built the logo with real wool!):

Photo by Haiyan Zhang

Photo by Hoi Lam

Long way to go, but with our final presentation we won the „most exhibitable project“ as judged by the V&A!

At the IDEO headquarters London:
And finally, after 2 days of making, our team – the „Knit-Wits“ – in the make-a-thon photobooth!

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