Sherlock + Watson

Role

I conducted initial research, worked on the design of Sherlock and Watson, CAD, rendering, and story.

Team

  • Nate Chang

Collaborative Studio

  • Microsoft Devices team

Problem

Dogs need to be mentally stimulated throughout the day to develop their natural skills and be happy. The problem is, their owners have to work and can’t be home.


Opportunity

With AI, we are able to design devices around the house that work together to stimulate and feed dogs.

How would this work?


The game

Devices are able to stimulate dogs in different ways: lights, sounds, and smells. By putting them around the house, they can create a quest game for your dog.

For example, the first one releases a smell. Your dog smells it and gets up to investigate. He walks around the house until he finds the source, and then the next one activates.

When the dog finishes his mission (reaches the end), he is given dog food as a reward. This is very important because dogs are happy when they have to hunt and work for food.


Always changing

The problem with dog toys is that they’re always the same. Toys might be fun for the dog on day 1, but by the end of the week, dogs are already bored of them. To stimulate dogs, toys should always be changing.

Instead, our devices leverage AI and machine learning. This means that the game is always different and always adapting to be just the right amount of challenging for the dog.

Dogs are great at identifying and memorizing patterns. So the next time the device starts up, he’s going to try to do the exact same thing and it’s not going to work.

This is the most fun part for the dog, when it realizes that it has to figure out a new pattern. This is the part that stimulates the dog and brings out the joy of problem solving and hunting.

This also means that the game isn’t just fun on day 1, but also fun on day 1000.


Form and environment

Microsoft loved the game aspect, but then comes the next aspect:

What form does the device take?

What role does it play in the home? Does it stand out or blend into the environment?


Device as furniture

We explored what form the device could take and we quickly realized that devices don’t really belong in the home. They become these foreign objects on the floor and they stand out.

However, there are objects in the home that do integrate: furniture.

What if we could elevate the device into something that becomes a part of the home and becomes a piece of furniture?

Every home is different and the device needs to able to fit into different spaces.

It’s versatile and can be placed vertically.

As a piece of furniture, it becomes more than just a device. You can put books and magazines on it. You can put mugs and water bottles on it.


Setting up

You pop a smell cartridge into the side and change the cartridge for different smells.

There’s speakers below that and that can play different sounds.

In front, there’s a container drawer that pulls out and it fits enough dog food for several days. This alleviates having to fill it every daily amidst the morning rush.

The mechanism is built into the back, allowing the food container to be simple and easy to clean. The carousel index works in both orientations, allowing the device to be placed horizontally and vertically.


The smaller one

There’s also room for a smaller and cheaper device that you can buy multiples of and put around the house. We named it Watson.

It does everything the big one does (stimulation) except for storing and dispensing food. This allows it to be very small (3.5 inch cube) and unobtrusive enough to fit anywhere.


Telling them apart

There’s going to be many of these around the house. How do you tell them apart? When you a cartridge is running low, does it just say “replace cartridge on Device #3?”

That’s a horrible experience, so there’s a way built-in way to differentiate. By turning the dial on the side, the gradient strip moves, changing the color. This allows the device to be different colors while also avoiding making multiple SKUs.


A family of products

Here is the product family:

The big one, Sherlock, is the brains and something you would only buy one or two of. It controls the smaller ones, which are cheaper and great for putting around the house.

The beauty is, the game for your dog gets better as you buy more devices. Your dog gets to explore around the house more and the game gets more interesting and fun. It also gets to develop its natural skills and be a happier dog.

You, the owner, don’t have to worry so much when you are away. You know the dog is doing fine, and you can focus on what you are doing and be more productive and creative.


Process

Problem area research

Ideation and Iteration

Microsoft Devices team visit

Testing dispensing mechanisms

Making

When you only have short clamps

Narrating for the video


Acknowledgements