Sometimes problems seem to swirl like a hurricane, ideas seem to build up a pressure in my head and then something happens, a singular problem can bring everything into focus and then everything seems to collapse down into a single clear solution.
And sometimes that idea or solution simply forces you to change everything and so it is has happened just now, minutes before the witching hour.
The problem came out of a dialogue regarding medication schedules and the realisation that often times a medication must be taken before, after or with a meal. Simply dispensing medication was no longer enough, we now need to provide instructions.
This is one of those defining problems that test the boundaries of an idea. Just how far should our design go and what problems should we try to solve.
I have a great weakness for taking too much on.
The problem is that I want elegance and simplicity and I want to do everything for everyone. The truth is that simplicity and everything are opposing ideas. But still, I'm going to try for both.
So the solution; the dispenser must have a screen.
My original premise was that the device would have a single button, it flashes when it needs to be pushed and you push the button to dispense. These were the only two actions that a pill consumer would need to worry about. The problem is that reality keeps getting in the way.
So now I need to inform them to take the medication with, before or after a meal and perhaps even remind them when to have a meal so that they can take the medication at the right time.
So a screen breaks some of my original design goals but at the same time it solves a mirade of problems that I've been trying to work around.
With a screen, we no longer need a NFC enabled phone to control the device, which means we can support iphone users again.
With a screen, WIFI configuration suddenly gets easier.
With a screen, we don't need to build a complex app for each phone OS in the market, instead a simple phone sized management web app will be sufficient.
But not just any screen. I hate microwaves and alarm clocks and fridges and the like that compromise on a dicki little screen that is essentially unusable.
We need to have a decent sized screen, which is capacitive touch and probably colour given our target audience. Fonts have to be large and clear.
So we have probably just added $300 to the price of the product, but I just don't like to compromise and the reality is that we were never targeting the low end of the market.
So now I feel purged. The pressure has been released in my head and I can go to bed. Perhaps I will come back to this blog in the morning and do some re-editing and re-thinking.