Daye Kim / California College of the Arts
A great idea that was well executed. It is rare that I see a student project this well resolved. I feel like this would instantly be a popular and well-used product. – Michael DiTullo
What a fun solution to a mundane problem, how to denote a clean and separate area in a public place. It promotes hygiene as well as offering a repose from travel while integrating into existing wheely-bags. – M Coleman Horn
Whaletale shows itself as a highly functional product that is dead simple to use. It makes life more human and pleasant for families when traveling. Well presented but it would be nice to see more attention to branding. – Greg McNamara
Whaletale is a simple and practical solution to a common need. The product provides an immediate solution as well as creates an environment for family bonding in public spaces away from the security of home. – Chris Gadway
Whaletale is a compact fashionable traveling mat that provides comfortable and relaxing waiting experience at airports for family travelers. It is a traveling accessory that attaches onto any carry-on luggage that unfolds into a semi-private space providing a comfortable seating for a parent and sanitary play environment for children.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Whaletale was a project assigned in class, and the class theme was ‘Transformation and Transition.’ Brainstorming with those two words, I came down to very interesting topic of travel where one’s space is very temporary and constantly changing its location and form. With this open-ended interest area, I went into SFO airport and talked with people about their traveling experience. I got to talk with many different types of travelers; old couples, single travelers, people on vacation and business trips and family travelers. Though many of them gave me great insights, none of the struggles could beat the powerful stories of family travelers and what they have to go through in order to get to their destination.
From observations, I found out that many family travelers don’t use terminal chairs. I frequently met families lodging on the terminal floors with their children and luggage scattered around. This was a great starting insight, which was not expected at all. Families were rather sitting on floors while waiting for their flights. Kids get easily bored and tired, and in order to make their trip more pleasant, parents have to make sure kids are entertained, and comfortable more than themselves. Though parents do concern for possible contact with “international germs” on the carpeting, floors are often chosen so the kids can be a bit more free with activities when passing their time. Despite the effort to make the waiting comfortable for kids, it is still stressful and tiring for the parents.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
After analyzing the research data, I made decisions for design guideline to drive this project in a appropriate route. I wanted to hone on a several major issues and create solutions. First, it needed to be comfortable for both the parent and child, not for just one of them. Secondly, It needed to be private, but the degree of privacy was to be determined. Thirdly, to keep it sanitary, it required to be easy to clean or wash. Lastly, to be carried easily, it needed to be compact. In addition, it was crucial to make it easy to fold and unfold to use the space and quickly get ready to go.
I also found the need of support community formed with family travelers very important.”I wish I could ask someone to watch our things!” Besides the issue of comfort, many moms brought up the issue of constant packing and unpacking their space every time they have to go to the restroom for a diaper change for one child, but usually it’s pretty tough to find someone trustworthy and feel comfortable about it. At this point, Whaletale also needed to be connecting its users and create a community. This need later leads the birth of Whaletale mobile application.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
Process of creating Whaletale started with one-on-one interview research method extracting interesting insights from travelers. During the entire process, I constantly went back to my interviewees and people in the target audience sector for feedback.
Thinking about the product cycle and user scenario, I brainstormed for the most effective way from the users’ point of view and also looked for business opportunities. I debated between if the product would to be sold to the end users-families or to airline companies as a complimentary service product like the already-existing stroller rental service. I chose the end users as customer and consumer, because the sanitation issue was brought up again. Feedback from a group of mothers showed that moms don’t trust the public rental items to be cleaned regularly.
Iterating with sketches and physical mock-up models, I explored on the size looking for a right middle ground between being comfortably roomy for the family users and not being invasively big for others at the terminal. For the matter of privacy, I questioned if a physical wall was necessary, debating between making a “physical space” and establishing a “sense of space” to keep kids near and safe. I chose to simply create a sense of space. Taking to kids and letting them play on my model told me it worked. Shape of the mat was influenced by the questions like how many users would be sitting on single product and what they would do while waiting. I did a very interesting observation where a mom sat with her legs spread-out in an angle and let her two children play within the physical fence-like boundary she created with her body. Taking the crucial insight to my design direction, I made the mat into shape of a whale, allowing a parent to sit on the narrow side with legs stretched out with kids to freely play sitting right in front on the wider part.
Material explorations were done to make Whaletale that is light, compact, easy to fold and carry. For the outer material directly lays on the floor, I used Rip-stop Nylon, for its light and waterproof quality. Soft, warm and cozy felt was chosen for the inner material where the users sit on.To be washed easily, I was looking for cushioning material for soft seating and back support that can be also be washed. Neoprene was the perfect match.
Whaletale mobile application was created to connect its users who share the similar struggles. This application can be used like Yelp with ratings for good “taling” space when first visiting foreign airports. It may reduce user’s time roaming around to find a good spot to unfold the Whaletale. It can also be used to help forming an instant, temporary support community, letting families to find other Whaletale users that are also looking for other families. For parents, It is a simple way to connect and lend a hand to each other while their kids may find new airport buddies and have fun.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
As people continue to fly and travel, the need of having a comfortable, relaxing waiting experience at airports will also continue to be among the frequent flyers, benefiting both single and family travelers with small children. With Whaletale, traveling parent’s stress is reduced being comfortable together with the child with a personal space between long tiresome flights. Not adding to the luggage load, Whaletale simply attaches to the user’s pre-owned carry-on size suitcase and goes through the security and unfolds into a private furniture for the parent and sanitary play space for the child. Whaletale brings a stay at airport to a whole new comfort level. Use of the mobile application allows connecting with support community for parents and fun for the children making new friends.