Jeremy Fu

Fountain Flex

My group identified that students were often unable to fill their water bottles fully at sinks and water fountains due to the shallow base of sinks, low water pressure at both sinks and fountains, compounded by  inconvenient shape and length of the bottle.

Roughly 4 iterations of designs were built and tested before the Fountain Flex was chosen. At each stage, the designs were evaluated against the user and performance requirements specified by the team in order to guide decisions. 

Role
  • Human-Centered Design
  • Design Research
  • Prototyping

Final prototype of the Fountain Flex
Brief

My team identified the problem space of making people’s interactions with water fountains and sinks more seamless when filling their water bottles by removing pain points and were tasked with imagining and prototyping novel products.

My team outlined two key goals for our prototype:

  1. How might we adapt existing water bottles to make the water bottle filling process less difficult without adding significant time or steps?

  2. How might we encourage the user to increase their water intake by filling their water bottles more often by making water fountains more accessible

Opportunity Space

There was a clear opportunity space through early research. In a survey sent out to the Northwestern University community, our team discovered that on average users rated the ease of use of water bottles at water fountains without a filling station as a  2.68 out of 5 on a 1-5 ease of use scale.

With filling stations only seen 49% of the time on campus, it is clear that filling water bottles at fountains is an issue even affecting those with some of the most advanced and accessible systems in the world. 

To learn more about the pain points surrounding each of these filling stations, we conducted observations around campus, in order to learn about the typical user’s process when filling a water bottle. This was followed by user interviews.

User Requirements
  • The design affords easy filling of water bottles at sinks and fountains
  • The device can be attached to water bottle when not in use
  • The design allows users have one free hand when filling the bottle
  • The design ensures a mess free experience
  • The device can be easily cleaned
Brainstorm
1st Iteration Mockups

Low fidelity minimum viable prototypes to test brainstorm concepts

+ Collapsible

+ Stores on the bottle

 Annoying setup

–  Hard to clean

–  Not Universal

+ Durable

+ Aesthetically Pleasing

+ Fills fully at fountains

 Works badly at sinks

 Doesn’t secure well 

+ Durable

+ Aesthetically Pleasing

+ Fills fully at fountains

 Not Universal

 Water leaks off sides

2nd Iteration Mockups

Tested with user feedback, observing how users interacted with the device.

Data Analysis

  • Calculate performance difference with and without mockup
  • Percentage of bottle filled
  • Fill time
  • Calculate average ease of use for each mockup

+ Fills fully at fountains

+ Attachments feel secure

 Annoying setup

–  Works badly at sinks

–  Clip isn’t durable

+ Fast and easy setup

+ Aesthetically Pleasing

+ Fills fully at fountains

+ Durable

 Works badly at sinks

 Too bulky

 Difficult to use

 Didn’t fill bottles well

 Many moving parts

3rd Iteration Mockups
  • Slope at top of funnel to direct flow

  • Continuous rim to prevent leaking

+ 65% improvement in fill with attachment vs without

+ Easy to use, works as intended

 Rigid structure restricts usability in water bottles with different opening sizes

 Doesn’t seal against the bottle causing leaks (see duct tape)

4th Iteration Mockups

Improvements

  • Slimmer design
  • Flexible: can fit range of water bottle diameters
  • Water bottle sleeve for easy storage

3 part 3D printed mold

Smooth-On, Inc Mold Star 20T (Flexible Silicone Rubber)

  • Ideal stiffness
  • Shape forms to variety of water bottles
  • Walls snap back into original form
Reflection

By developing the solution over four design sprints, we were able to adapt to changes and user feedback quickly.

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