P08023: Air Muscle Artificial Limb I
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Identify Customer Needs

Table of Contents

Step 1. Gather Raw Data From Customers

Interactions with Customers

Prepare a report on your customer interactions. Following the text by Ulrich and Eppinger, this report may include

  1. Transcripts of Interview(s) with customers
  2. Audio Recordings
  3. Notes
  4. Video Recordings
  5. Still Photography

Provide a transcript, or at least a paraphrased version of the interviews that you conduct. Allow the students interested in this project to understand the types of questions you asked the sponsor, and to hear how the sponsor responded. Be sure to note the date, time, location, and participants in the interview. The format below may be helpful.

First Sponsor Interview
Interviewers: Jonathan Kasper
Sponsor: Dr. Kathleen Lamkin Kennard
Date 1 September 2006, Mobil Conference Room
Interviewer:
I would like to start off by introducing myself, my name is Jonathan Kasper and I am currently a 4th year Mechanical Engineering Major who has a very strong interest is Biomechanical Engineering applications. I have volunteered to be the Design Project Manager on your proposed Scalable Robotic Hand project. I have a few questions that I would like to ask you in an attempt to help me more accurately identify my customer needs. Would you be available for an hour or so to help me gain some knowledge about this project?
Would you please introduce yourself as well?

Dr. Kathleen Lamkin-Kennard's research to date has focused primarily on biofluid mechanics and biotransport in the microcirculation. Her current research focuses on the effects of microhydrodynamics on the inflammatory response in cylindrical branched microvessels. One long term goal is to extend this work to include biotransport phenomena. An additional long term research goal is to diversify her background and extend her expertise in microcirculatory phenomena to develop novel devices and techniques that function at a microscale level. Development of a microscale robotic platform that can be used for surgical or other biomedical applications would serve as an excellent opportunity to achieve this goal while providing students at RIT, particularly in bioengineering concentrations, with unique multidisciplinary opportunities that complement their educational experience at RIT. The proposed work represents the first phase of such a long term project.

Sponsor:

My name is Dr. Kathleen Lamkin-Kennard and since this project is "my baby," I would love to help you gain some general knowledge about the project as well as identify some customer needs.

Interviewer:

Who is the main customer(s) for this project? Dr. LK will be acting as the main customer for this project. This project is her idea and she is heading up the development by herself. Like Dr. LK, this project is new to RIT and has never been worked on previously. I have no design team to ask or any other professor to talk with. Dr. KLK will be my primary point of contact for the customer needs process. Who else should I be conducting interviews with?

Sponsor:

You may want to track down any senior design project that have dealt with the issue of a scalable robot previously to this project. You may be able to get some good ideas as to how your team can go about accomplishing it's tasks. Also, possibly speaking with Jonathan Niebielski, the student who is currently testing the air muscles, would be a valuable exercise.

Interviewer:

What are the main customer needs of this project?

Sponsor:

(1) Developing a new robotic hand design

(2) Integrating air muscles and control algorithms with an existing robotic hand.

(3) Accurately reproducing human hand motions in conjunction with tactile feedback response.

(4) Produce a physical hand

(5) Make the new design of the robotic hand SCALABLE

(6) The point is to make the hand as low cost as possible

Interviewer:

Do you have any idea of what the work breakdown structure should look like for this project?

Sponsor:

I am ideally looking for 4 Mechanical and 2 Electrical Engineering Students.

This is a great place to include an affinity diagram constructed in collaboration with the customer, a fcous group, or peer students, as a graphical representation of raw data associated with customer needs.

Step 2. Interpret Raw Data in Terms of Customer Needs

  1. The primary objective of the project is to design and develop an anatomically accurate, robotic hand that incorporates air muscles as a force generating mechanism.
  2. The team needs to develop control algorithms that accurately reproduce human hand and finger motions.
  3. The hand should be capable of detecting and responding to tactile perceptions, including pressure force detection, positions sensing, and motions.
  4. An excel spreadsheet of equivalent tool should be developed to make the end product scalable based on numerous design input constraints.
  5. Three teams will be created for this project, the Air Muscle Team, Controls Team, and the Design Team.

Step 3. Organize the Needs into a Hierarchy

Note: The following needs were developed after preliminary consulting sessions. They attempt to establish some higher level necessities of the project.

After listing the needs in list order here, this is a great place to include an objective tree as a graphical representation of your interpretation of the customer needs.

Step 4. Establish the Relative Importance of the Needs

Needs Summary
Need The Product Needs to Importance
Need 1.1 Air Muscles Be Reproducible and Reliable Very Important since the team is trying to produce a low cost robotic hand.
Need 1.2 Air Muscle Lengths and Materials Find Optimal Lengths and Materials Necessary to make a robotic hand that most closely mimics an actual human hand.
Need 1.3 Necessary Forces to Generate Air Muscles Determine Such Forces Helps the team accurately design and produce the new robotic hand
Need 1.4 Actual Forces Generated By Air Muscles Determine Such Forces Helps the team accurately design and produce the new robotic hand
Need 1.5 Air Muscle Connections and Wiring in the Robotic Hand Determine Helps the team accurately design and produce the new robotic hand
Need 2.1 Solenoid Valve Configuration Series of solenoid valves will control the delivery of compressed air to the muscles
Need 2.2 Control Algorithms Development Provides coordinated muscle control for each individual finger, the thumb, and the wrist
Need 2.3 Air Muscles and Control Algorithms Integrate with existing robotic hand Very Important, necessary to see if the correct air muscles and algorithms are being used....the big test!
Need 3.1 Robotic Hand Design and Build If we have time...
Need 3.2 Critical Design Issues Identify and Investigate Help the future design team actually produce a new robotic hand

Step 5. Reflect on the Results and the Process

Our customer needs seem to resemble those of a professor handing out a design project, as they should. Dr. KLK is our only customer on this project so her needs are what the team will base their work around. The needs should become more specific as the design process unfolds.

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