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With a basic structure in place, my thesis advisor encouraged me to try some different mechanisms in order to interrogate the problem more thoroughly. Specifically, he suggested that I try a sketching exercise in which I’d consider how my concept might look if it had been developed by any of a few different companies. In other words, Apple’s version of a local shopping app would be different from, say, the New York Public Library’s take on it.

So, with this in mind, I found a random company generator online (turns out that’s a thing!) and set to work.

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Here are the results of the exercise, followed by the “divergent” prototype they inspired.

ALLIANZ

My first concept is called the Allianz Seal of Approval. For the cost of a low monthly subscription, you can insure any purchase! Simply ship it to Allianz for a full refund. So, the next time you’re thinking of buying something from a sketchy dude on Craigslist, don’t worry! Allianz has got your back.

HEINEKEN

For Heineken, I conceived of a virtual bodega fridge. It’s a local beer finder, letting you know where you can find exactly the brew you’re looking for at any time of the day or night. As an added bonus, you can pre-validate your ID through the app to expedite your path to purchase once you’re at the store.

IKEA

Along a similar vein, my solution for Ikea is called Shelf Finder. It provides precise indoor navigation to carefully itemized, labeled and categorized inventory, and even gives you shortcuts to checkout marked right on the map.

ADOBE

Adobe’s offering is a monthly art store subscription box. With an innovative, context-aware onboarding process, Adobe learns exactly what art supplies you’re interested in. And they’ll let you return whatever you don’t use, so you can explore and broaden your horizons without taking on unnecessary risk.

NIKE

Finally, Nike. Perhaps because I’d run out of space on the page to sketch an iPhone, this was the only non-app solution. I came up with FloorSync, a Bluetooth-enabled shoe that syncs with your store’s doormat, verifies your ID and payment method, and enables seamless checkout. Of course, it too has a little extra perk – vibration navigation through your shoes, helping you get to whatever you’re looking for in the store.

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Components | Fuzziness