Design an accessible Cooking pot for a hiker who lost his left arm in an accident.
This project was developed as a part of 24hr Sustainability Design-A-Thon organized by AutoDesk. The competition required us to design a cooking pot for hikers that is light, durable, foldable and sustainable. After analyzing persona and performing abundant research, we designed a pot that satisfies all necessary characteristics.
Since this was a Design-A-Thon, the roles were tightly intertwined among all the group members. I personally spent first half of the design-a-thon on researching and understanding our persona. This led me to see the world from user’s perspective and eventually design for them. During the second half of the competition, I focused on 3D modeling the actual product. This involved jumping into technicalities of the product size, material, function, design interaction of the user with the product.
Planning a hike for 2.5 months during Summer at the Appalachian trail
Cooking utensils have to be folded to pack small & Should be operable with a single hand
Prefers using his propane torch to cook food
We started researching about what hikers commonly carry and eat for a long trip. We found similar patterns of food habits including food that is rich on protein, carbohydrates and vitamins. As a general breakup between diet followed for breakfast, lunch and dinner is as follows:
Breakfast: Eggs (boiled and scrambled), Soup, Sausages, Oatmeal, Bacon, Couscus, Wheat flour tortillas, Pepperoni, Boiled/Steam potatoes, Corn, Rice, Hot Chocolate / Tea
Lunch & Dinner: Zucchini, Lentils, Mushrooms, Curry, Noodles, Pasta, Rice, Beans, Tuna
Our initial approach was to design a product such that it would facilitate food storage since it was a 2.5 month long hiking trip. However, we thought it would be an extra baggage to carry all the above mentioned food for a 2.5 month hike, especially they had a chance to go bad.
That is the reason we researched on Appalachian trail to understand the hiking routes and resources accessible along their trip. Based on our research Appalachian trail is a long trail that extends from Maine to Georgia. Experienced hikers normally carry food that would last for 4 to 7 days and when it is the right time, they visit a local market to re-stock their resources. Therefore, our design objective shifted from serving as a storage option to a concise and light-weight tool for cooking.
The material we are using for our utensil is Aluminium and Silicone. Aluminium is selected as the base of the utensil since it is an excellent heat conductor and is lightweight at the same time. The Silicone constitutes the most part of the body since it is light, a good heat conductor and malleable on external force, making it a perfect the for foldable utensil. The figure below shows the research parameters we considered for selecting these materials.
Competitive Analysis of Materials
Based on standard hiker’s diet patterns we discovered by research, we decided to design a cooking utensil that can serve as a pot and grill as required. Apart from this, we always went back to the design constraints like the pot should cook for 8 people at a time, usable with a single hand, foldable, light-weight and sustainable for making each design decision during the ideation process. You can check these design sprints below.
After a lot of brainstorming and reflecting back to our problem statement, we narrowed down our scope to preparation of breakfast using the utensil we design. The utensil gives the power to be used as a:
Pot to support cooking features like steam, boil and cook soup. This feature makes use of the convection cooking process where the heat is carried to the food by air.
Pan for cooking scrambled eggs or heating sausages. In this case the cooking is completed by the process of conduction where the heat is transferred to the food by direct contact with the heat source. These two cooking methods cover all the major dishes that Tom, or any hiker, would cook for breakfast in the morning.
To ensure the size of the utensil is enough to cook breakfast for 8 people, we researched on average amount of food a hiker eats on a daily basis while on the hike. A reasonable goal for a long trail hiker typically varies between 1.4 to 1.7 lb of food per day. If we divide this into breakfast, lunch and dinner, a hiker typically has ~0.5 lb of food in their breakfast.
Thus, for 8 hikers, a total of 4 lb food is required for breakfast. Based on the design of our product, we used the formula of ‘Volume of Frustum of a Right Circular Cone’ [V=pi*h/3(R2+Rr+r2)]. This formula helped us to develop a close estimate of the volume of our utensil and give a good approximation of number of people it can serve. Considering the base cylinder has a diameter of 12cm (r) and the top cylinder has a diameter of 20cm (R), with height of 3cm (h) for each cylinder, the volume of the utensil is approximately 2.5 litres.
I created this video using Autodesk Fusion 360 by choreographing animation between individual product components.
Following is the Sustainability Plan that we came up with.
Cradle to Cradle:
We limited our materials to two, which are Aluminum and Silicone which are both recyclable very easily. During our research phase, we tried to find the best solution to our design problem while also addressing the sustainability issue.
Whole Systems Thinking:
We tried to think of our design towards a direction where we not only thinking about the benefits of our design but also how it can impact nature.
Based on our material research, again, we picked Aluminum and Silicone to be the only materials for our design. We could have picked stainless steel rather than Aluminum but we sued Aluminum instead because it weighs less. Moreover, rather than having the whole pot designed in Aluminum, in order to reduce weight, we added Silicone to it to extract less Aluminum. Save the environment