Strategic Prototyping

What is a prototype?

In this module, we studied and practiced various methods of prototyping.

Time: FALL 2021 // GradLab 2

Role: Prototyper, Group Member

Tools: Raspberry Pi, Arduino, SuperCollider, AfterEffects, Illustrator, ProCreate, Paper


Strategic Prototyping will introduce students to the variety of thinking and making that go into deciding which parts of a system to prototype, and how. We will break complex concepts into smaller interactions, mechanisms and moments; evaluate which are most important based on the context of the prototype; consider the range of fidelity from low to high; and try different methods of prototyping, including paper, video, technological/functional, and wizard-of-oz.


For this week, we were given a theoretical technology brief and played with the idea of prototyping through sound. We used SuperCollider as our synth engine to create sounds that would dictate state changes as well as moments. The technology brief was essentially a futuristic medical system that would auto scan, detect, and perform procedures on individuals without the need for human intervention.


This excercise was to explore using video as a prototyping tool. We looked at various forms of video prototypes and created a basic concept, storyboard, and test shots for the med systems technology.


For physical prototyping, we were restricted to only using a button and a light to express a singular moment of another given futuristic technology. This technology was a theoretical helmet that would induce caliagnosia in individuals that would wear it, ridding their bias of beauty standards for a period of time. We talked through scenarios in which it would exist, diagramed, storyboarded, and built basic prototypes of the way in which we would see it manifest.


The brief this week was to use a Raspberry Pi to integrate a video source as a tool to prototype a moment in a system. My group chose to prototype the auto scanning moment in the med systems technology. We used created to different video loops to signify the change between "Waiting to scan" and "scanning". We hooked up the videos through a raspberry pi to a projector that would project the video onto the body. Using tinfoil, we placed one piece on the wall and another on the patients back. Once the patient touched the wall, the circuit would close, triggering the state change in video loops that would mimick the idea of autoscanning.


I expanded my understanding and appreciation for the act of prototyping through this module. I have a greater understanding for the use cases and reasons to prototype depending on the specific goals of a project. This is a very broad category that has applications in various ways whether that be pitching ideas to others, researching and development of new concepts, or modes of discovery. This is only the beginning of my prototyping journey and I'm looking forward to using these tools and methods in future projects.

Instructor: Elise Co
Group members: Flora Zhou, Arianna Borgeson