The Complexity of a Simple Task

A project log for 2020 HDP Dream Team: UCPLA

The 2020 HDP Dream Teams are participating in a two month engineering sprint to address their nonprofit partner. Follow their journey here.

RubenRuben 07/11/2020 at 22:130 Comments

Build A Universal Remote

Sounds like a simple project right? In all intensive purposes it is. Universal remotes have been around for at least 65 years. At first the task was simple, as the number of devices you could or would need to control were only a few. In our day and age, the sky is the limit. Countless number of different devices have some sort of remote or wireless control, and more and more devices are entering the picture every day.For the typical user the control interface is a smart phone or speaker. But what about for the rest of us.

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Build A Universally Usable Universal Remote (U3R?) in 2020

So what about people that cant use a smartphone?

Cerebral Palsy is one of the most common movement disorders in the world, drastically limiting a persons ability to interact with everyday things around us. Many people with movement disorders cannot operate a smartphone, let alone a simple TV remote, or most other remote controls. Theirs an app for that isn't always an option here.

So where do we begin, what would a U3R look like?

Good question! That is exactly what we are trying to figure out!

And So The Complexity Begins

The complexity begins when you dive into the factors that drive this design choice.

These can be further broken down into sub categories and other variables like size, sensitivity, durability, repairablility, wearablility, portability, customizability, cost, power consumption, line-of-sight, distance, effort, and more.

How do you make a good design choice when there are so many variables.

Well, if you had several years and a large budged you could do a fully comprehensive study with a large enough pool of test subjects to statistically determine the best combination of features that will meet the needs of the majority of users.

But we only have >2 months and limited budget!

What we need is a Project Overview that fits our time frame and budget.

Team-Based Project Planning

  1. Project Overview
    1. Identifies the problem or opportunity
    2. Identifies assumptions and risks
    3. Sets the scope of the project
    4. Establishes project goals
    5. Lists important objectives
    6. Determines the approach or methodology
  2. Work Breakdown
    1. Keeps the team focused
    2. Organizes objectives with activities
    3. Prioritize activities
  3. Activity assignments
    1. Provides clarity regarding assignments, project's purpose, resources, and deadlines
    2. Activity should match the skills of the team member
    3. Establishes milestone and progress reporting
  4. Putting the plan into action (Team Leadership)
    1. Provide leadership and additional resources
    2. Assist with decision making and problem solving
    3. Monitor the critical path and team members performance
  5. Project closeout
    1. Recognize team members
    2. Write a postmortem report
      1. Project status
      2. Lessons learned