The Wharton Innovation and Design Club was excited to have Professor Sarah Rottenberg, the Associate Director of Penn's Integrated Product Design Masters Program and a co-founder of the xLab, come this past Wednesday to teach a session on ideation. The session was a great success and resulted in some really interesting and creative fitness product ideas by Wharton Innovation and Design Club members!

To start the session Sarah walked the group through the xLab’s mission, which is to bring entertainment beyond the screen by creating content coupled products that leverage the cloud to create innovation in entertainment and wellness technologies. The xLab develops these products by following user-centered design practices which involve following a cycle of user observations, interpretations, directions and solutions. To begin the ideation step, Sarah presented user research about home fitness that her xLab team pulled together earlier this year. We learned that most people fell on the spectrum of needing help getting a routine started, or help with continuing their current fitness routine. In fact, people have such difficulty motivating themselves to work out that studies have shown that they would even pay a service to restrict their favorite media (TV shows, music, audio books) to times when they are working out to encourage them to exercise more often! Sarah then finished the presentation by distilling the user research into 5 opportunity spaces of untapped needs that future home fitness products could have the possibility to bring new value to consumers. The members were then split up into teams based on these opportunity spaces to come up with new and creative product ideas. After the first ideation session on the opportunity spaces, Sarah had each team switch their product idea with another group and refine their design based on an assigned brand.

How did everyone get their creative juices flowing? A plethora of great ideation inspiration supplies (mostly craft supplies from a local dollar store) helped team members mock up their ideas into rough prototypes as they were explaining them. As we learned, a great ideation session can be anywhere and help solve any problem as long as you follow these rules.

9 habits of good ideators

  1. Listen to different voices.

  2. Headline your idea.

  3. Ask stupid questions.

  4. Encourage wild ideas.

  5. Build on other people’s ideas.

  6. Go for quantity.

  7. Speak your doubts. Then help resolve them.

  8. Be visual.

  9. Make bad ideas better.

At the end of the session, our members presented their great ideas with the rough prototypes they had constructed (be visual!). Here’s a small sample of the many great product ideas that were showcased:

  • A Trader Joes fitness tracker that earns you discounts on your groceries.

  • A Facebook dumbbell that takes selfies to brag to all of your friends about how great your workout was.

  • A Tiffany exercise necklace that projects a hologram of your favorite celebrity to work out with you.

  • Lululemon pants that turn a bright color when you haven’t worked out in a while.

We are excited to have people refine these ideas further at the next prototyping session on 11/19!