Final Assignment:
Exploring IoT Ecosystems

tl;dr: Working in groups of 10, realize a future vision for technology enhanced fitness where internet appliances enhance the the gym of tomorrow.

Type: Collaborative

Due: Wednesday 2nd March, 4pm.

Submit to:

Team Assignments: Self organize - Teams of 10.

Major Milestones

  1. Familiarize - Thursday, Feb 18, 8.30 am.

  2. Defamiliarize - Thursday, Feb 18 midnight.

  3. Visionary Proposal - Sunday February 21st.

  4. Prototype and Present - 1st cut prototype - Tuesday 23rd February, 8.30am.

  5. Prototype and Present - Final Showcase - Wednesday 2nd March, 4pm.

Where we are

Over the past couple of weeks, you’ve been introduced to the world of connected systems and the Internet of Things. We’ve explored in-situ sensing and using data from the Internet to create ‘enchanted objects’. We’ve looked at how these objects can enhance not just daily routines but human-to-human connections. We’ve seen how ambient information can make data present in physical spaces and give subtle cues to action or nudges towards behavior change. You’ve been introduced to design methods for IoT applications and network centered design. You’ve read about disruptive innovation and reconsidering known spaces to design innovative products. We’ve also looked at the challenges and considerations in realizing internet appliances with multiple interacting stakeholders, needs and within complex service maps. phew and we’re only 5 weeks in…

Exploring IoT Ecosystems

The goal of this project is to bring many of the strands together, in a grounded real-world problem space and which fully explores the potential and nature of connectedness.

The focus will be on ‘ecosystems’ of interacting internet appliances. Previously, we’ve only considered a single device in isolation, now we’re going to consider how several different devices can work together to solve a shared problem.

What does an ‘ecosystem’ of IoT devices mean? Let’s use the analogy of cooking. To make a meal, we don’t just use one ‘thing’; we use a series of ‘things’ together. To cook our dinner, we need our fridge to store and keep the food fresh, a knife to chop, and cutting board to prepare on, a tin opener, a sauce pan, an oven, etc. All of these things work together to help us achieve the overall goal. Each of them as a specific function within the overall task. The same is true of the Internet of Things; real-world problems are complex, and often require a series of complementary devices or interacting systems that work with one another to achieve the desired outcome.

To do this, we’re going to consider a problem space where there are many moving parts: many stakeholders, many users, many data sources and many potential services (think back to Week 5’s in-class exercise; Week 5 readings.)

The challenge for you, in designing solutions for this space, is that it will be very familiar. This makes it harder; these spaces are loaded with expectations (see Week 4 readings.) They come with all sorts of built-in assumptions. We have well established notions of how they should and do work. This makes it hard to see new possibilities or alternative approaches. So, the goal won’t simply be to design a series of connected products for problem space, but to find ways to innovate through disruptive solutions.

To help with this, we’re not going to try to realize solutions for now, but we’re moving the horizon to 5 years out. This frames the project as speculative and should make it a little easier to imagine new, strange and/and unfamiliar solutions (see Week 6 readings.)

The good news, is that we a little over two weeks for the project. This gives us time for review, discussion, refinement and iteration. Something that we haven’t had room for in previous projects!

What is this problem space? Glad you asked…

Problem Space: The Gym

Health and fitness is perhaps the most saturated space for the internet of things. Already today, people within the gym are outfitted with a range of smart devices to monitor progress and track biometrics. Wearable fitness trackers like the FuelBand, FitBit, Jawbone and Misfit products as well as wireless headphones are mass market. The space of the gym is increasingly outfitted with smart technology. Many have wireless entertainment systems on treadmills, smart displays and RFID/NFC-based contactless check-in. Many have implemented the MyZone to gamify heart rates connected to in-class displays while high-end gyms like Equinox are adding data driven spin classes. Weighing scales are connected to account profiles and now Fit3d allows for full body measurements to be taken in seconds. And as this Mashable timeline of connected fitness shows, this is only the tip of the iceberg!

Tomorrow’s gym is choked full of possibilities. Could a drone be your trainer? Could smart clothing be a game changer? Will your water bottle and your cross-trainer work together to keep you hydrated while you push yourself? Will your yoga mat help you find a perfect bridge? Will your devices be able to tell when you’ve done a perfect set or when your muscles are fatigued? Will the weight machines auto adjust to who’s using them? And how will all of this stuff work together to create a more integrated experience?

Project Brief

This is what you’ll explore. Drawing on your own experiences and interests, this project asks you to imagine the future of the gym as a connected recreational and/or fitness experience.

You are to imagine a scenario that could feasibly exist in 5 years time. This should include a vision for an ecosystem of interacting connected products. This ecosystem would enhance the gym experience (or any aspect of it) through the Internet of Things

In support of this vision, you are asked to develop three working prototypes that illustrate this concept and that interact with one another to support a learner.

Technology enhanced health and wellbeing is an active strand of interdisciplinary exploration at CMU. Many investigations across the campus seek to improve wellbeing through new technologies and products to understand, enhance, and promote healthy behaviors among all age groups. This project is not only an opportunity for you explore a real-world multifaceted design challenge for the Internet of Things, but doubles as an opportunity for you to engage with and contribute to this research agenda at CMU.

The manner in which you approach this is up to you, but you are strongly encouraged to consider disruptive rather than conventional solutions!

Project Requirements

Students will work in large groups (approximately 10 individuals per group) and asked to prepare the following:

  1. A vision: a conceptual introduction to how they envision the future ecosystem working and the kinds of connected solutions that will enhance the quality of experience for it’s end users. This should be realized as a short 2-3 minute video.

  2. Working prototypes: prepare at three working prototypes from their vision. Each prototype will be demo’ed during the final class.

  3. Presentation of outcomes: Present their design scenario and prototypes in a 5 minute final presentation

  4. Demo Session: Provide a live-demonstration of the ecosystem working and the connected experience you have designed.

  5. Process documentation: Maintain a record and illustrate their work process, rationale and design decisions.

  6. Outcome documentation: Prepare written documentation of the solution (goal, vision, design process, prototyped solutions, viability of the solutions, next steps, reflection on success, etc.)

Process and Milestones

There are three major steps to this assignment. Each of them is explored in separate documents.

  1. Familiarize - get to know the domain we’re designing for in a rapid research exploration across users, precedents and objects.

  2. Defamiliarize - find unusual approaches to explore this familiar design space, brainstorm possible connected scenarios, and propose a visionary scenario.

  3. Visionary Proposal - develop a statement of intent for your future focused scenario and a lightweight description of your connected ecosystem

  4. Prototype and Present - implement a working prototype, fast! implement connections between those prototypes, faster!

Detailed Timeline and Schedule

Pay close attention - there’s a lot of stuff happening in the next 2 weeks.


The team is expected to self organized. However, it is highly recommended to coordinate as follows:

Vision: (1-2 persons) - coordination the project’s vision; prepare vision and concept documentation; work with sub-teams to create an ecosystem

3 x Prototype Group (3 persons each)

Three sub-teams should work on a single working prototype that integrates with the larger vision. It is recommended to organize as three people as follows:

Organization, roles and the distribution of effort throughout the process should be noted in outcome documentation.


This isn’t a race to the finish. This is a collaborative exploration.

*Feel free to Share, reuse, revisit past projects as needed.

You are welcome to use the code, ideas, outcomes from any previous project even if it is not your own; but you must acknowledge it.

Final Documentation:

Final documentation should be added to the relevant pool on the IDeATe Gallery. It is recommended that you create one project for each prototype developed, as well as, one project which explains the overall vision and links to each of the prototype’s documentation.

You should provide a clear and concise description of your project, your process, and the outcomes. It should be quick to get an overview of the project. Ideally, your description of the outcomes should be repeatable too i.e. anyone in the class can replicate it easily from the information provided.

Using Online Material: It is perfectly fine to use examples, code, tutorials, and things you find on the web to help you realize your project. That’s part of the open-source mentality that surrounds much of Making, Arduino and microcontrollers. However, you cannot just copy and paste these solutions. In your documentation you must acknowledge where you got this content from. Include a link to any tutorials, guides, or code that are part of your final solution.

Resources, Articles and Places to look

Stuff on the Web

Bonus Material

This was the future of exercise not so long ago….

image alt text