Problem 25 – Learning How to Play the Piano

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Problem

Learning how to play the piano can be difficult and many people pay a lot of money to get taught.

Possible Solution

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Piano design has not changed much since they were introduced. Technology has been implemented in some pianos to create electric and self playing pianos.

I have always thought that the music stand is not in a very good position in relation to the keys, as you cannot look at the music and the keys at the same time. This is especially difficult for people who are just starting to learn how to play. If the music was closer to the keys then it would be easier to look between the two.

One place the music can be positioned is the inside of the lid that covers the keys. Trying to squeeze sheet music onto there will be difficult, however if a screen ran along the length of it then the music can be displayed at any size and brightness. The music can then scroll along following the notes the user is playing. This takes away the need to turn pages of sheet music, and large collections of music can be downloaded to it.

A piano tutor can be implemented into this screen as well by displaying all the keys of the piano, and then showing how a piece is meant to be played by also showing someone play the piece. A camera located above the keys of the piano can then overlay the user’s hands on the screen and allow the user to see the possition of their hands compared to the tutor’s hands. Alternatively, the user can record their hands when playing a piece and watch it another time.

This design will mean that everything the user needs to look at is located near the keys, and should make the piano more ergonomic.

As always, if you think you have a solution or if you have a problem you would like me to try to solve then please feel free to comment it.

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Problem 15 -Standing Up

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Problem

Sometimes getting up from a seat can be difficult, especially for elderly people. They usually have to be helped up or spend a while clambering up. It also usually means they are restricted to sitting in firm seats only.

Possible Solution

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The logical solution would be to make the seat help its user up, however this will have to be done using a very careful and safe method. One way a seat can do this is to slowly straighten in the vertical direction.

In order to do this safely, it will have to make sure the user has their feet on the ground first. This can be done by having a pressure sensor on the floor where the user’s feet would go. It can lower the height of its legs until it detects that the user has their feet firmly on the ground. Once it detects this then it can slowly straighten itself, however it will finish at a slight angle to give the user something to lean on. Its arms can also follow this movement in order to provide the user with arm supports as well. The arms will also prevent the user from falling off sideways.

Once it detects that the user has stepped away for a period of time then it can fold back up, or even stay in the same position until the user stands on the pressure pad again and presses a button to make it fold back into a chair.

A seat like this might cost a lot more than a conventional wooden chair, however it might prove to be invaluable to an eldery person who lives alone.

As always, if you have a solution or if you have a problem you would like me to try to solve then please feel free to comment it.

Problem 6 – There Must be Something Better than Revolving Doors

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Problem

I find revolving doors awkward to use. They can’t take that many people at a time and sometimes if there are too many people then it can jam and stop. I think the main reason revolving doors are used is to maintain the temperature of the building and prevent draughts from blowing in.

Possible Solution

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The main problem I think that needs to be solved on revolving doors is to allow passage through them easier. At the moment, I think the centre column and wings just take up too much space, and compartmentalising where people can go also makes revolving doors seem smaller than they are. A possible solution would be to move the way it separates the exterior and interior environment to the outer edge of the door.

Taking away all the elements at the centre of a revolving door and instead putting up curved glass panels around its outer edge will make a lot more space for people. These curved glass panels will then be the one parts that revolve, and if arranged correctly then should separate the exterior to the interior. The turning mechanism can also be hidden above or below the door, making it just appear like a couple of panes of curved glass that are floating.

This design still has the disadvantage that people can get caught by the turning door, but the chances of jamming the door when inside it should be reduced.

As always, if you think you have a solution or if you have a problem you would like me to try to solve then please feel free to comment it.

Problem 4 – Peeling Potatoes

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Problem

I find potatoes really awkward to hold when peeling them. I usually end up peeling a bit of my finger as well. If I find it difficult to peel a potato then I can’t image what it might be like for people with something like arthritis.

Possible Solution

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Simple solutions would be to improve the design of the potato peeler or to provide an easier way to hold the potato. There are many designs of potato peelers to improve ergonomics, mainly in the handle, so that it is easier to grip. I have also seen products that hold potatoes while you then peel them; these products are sometimes hand held or are placed on a worktop. There are some good solutions in these areas, however I think the process can be made even easier if we didn’t have to do any peeling at all.

The ideal situation with doing anything that isn’t practical or enjoyable is to watch the task do itself. However the main difficulty of making an automatic potato peeler is that all potatoes are different shapes and sizes, so the machine would have to be able to adapt to be able to peel all of them.

I think using rollers that are on hydraulic arms that can constantly adapt to a rolling potato can move it in a way that allows it to be peeled. This would mean that there would have to be force detectors on the arms and if it detects that the potato is pushing against it then it can retract and similarly push out when there is less force. This would mean that that force is constantly being applied to the potato to push it into the cutter; while it’s being rolled. It will also probably need a camera inside to map how much of the potato has been peeled and so will know when to stop.

If this solution works, it would mean that a potato can be put into the machine at one end and will come out peeled with no effort from the user. It is questionable as to how cleanly it will do the job though.

As always, if you think you have a solution or if you have a problem you would like me to try to solve then please feel free to comment it.

Problem 3 – Holding the Shower Head

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Problem

This isn’t really that big a problem for me but I can imagine that some people could find having to hold the shower head difficult. I have been wondering why all shower heads pretty much work the same way: which involves a handle that is held. Alternatively they cannot be moved at all and are fixed to the wall or a bracket, which can be seen as limiting. The main disadvantage of having to grip something while having a shower is that is can slippery.

Possible Solution

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A very quick and easy solution to improve the dexterity of using an object is to make it more ergonomic: with finger grips and coating the contact point with more grippy material. However this still does not take away the fact that an object still has to be held.

The purpose of a shower is to clean our body in a way that is usually quicker than taking a bath. A simple definition of a shower is a nozzle that sprays water. This means that it can only usually be applied to one small area of the body at a time. If the shower could cover our entire body simultaneously then it would not require us to hold and move anything. I have seen some 360 degree shower concepts that form a ring and sprays water from every angle towards the centre. I can see the benefits in this concept but it would be difficult to implement in many smaller bathrooms.

I think a more practical solution would be to somehow implement a new design into existing taps and shower kits. This would mean mainly replacing the shower head. I think that this can be done by attaching the shower head to the user’s hand instead of being held, which would give the effect of the water coming out of the hand. The reason for attaching it there is because we usually have to move our hands to apply soap anyway. The shape of the head can be adapted to fit most hands ergonomically, with a slot where our hand can slip into; adjustment might also be required. The head can then be attached to the existing hose, and nothing else has to be changed.

Accessories such as sponges can then be attached to the head. Temperature controls and the on/off switch can also be built into the head making it the only thing needs to be used in the shower; although this could mean that the entire shower kit will have to be redesigned as well to accommodate these extra functions on the head.

As always, if you think you have a solution or if you have a problem you would like me to try to solve then please feel free to comment it.