The Seebright “Ripple 2.0” Project
Goal: Create a follow-up to the original Seebright Ripple using injection molding technology.
Timeline: 2 Months
During the design process of the original Seebright “Ripple” in the Spring of 2016, I was asked to explore what an “injection molded” version of the Ripple might eventually look like, as the potential of injection molding meant that it would be easier and cheaper for mass-production. Using one of the early sketches of the Ripple concept and drawing inspiration from the earlier Seebright “Pioneer” Prototype, I created these design sketches:
This design has several features that were carried over from the earlier sketches, including the placement of the finger indentations. This design actually predates the pre-production version of the Seebright Ripple, as the finger placements were revised soon after. The conceptual features of this design are as follows:
- Smooth, rounded design with no jagged edges. This was to make the device look more inviting and ergonomic.
- Finger indentations carried over from earlier sketches for ergonomics and ease of use.
- Visor is integrated into the shell in order to prevent breakage.
- Spring-loaded clips with rubberized feet that would hold a smartphone in place during use.
Eventually, this idea was shelved when the design process for the actual Ripple was underway. However, the idea was brought back after the design of the Ripple was finalized, and the company wanted to explore alternative methods of manufacturing and construction. As a result, I was asked once again to assist our Product Engineer Taylor Furtado to explore the possibility of creating a follow up to the Ripple, but as an injection molded product.
Early on in this new phase it was decided that the concept would essentially be an injection-molded version of the original Ripple, with it’s core design still intact. Following this method, I created a new sketch showcasing what an injection-molded version of the production Ripple would look like:
This new sketch became the prevailing concept for the Seebright “Ripple 2.0”. Shown here in this sketch is the design of the individual pieces that would be molded separately and then assembled using screws. Overall, this concept would have had the following features:
- A more rounded, ergonomic design than the original Ripple.
- A more robust design that is meant to be assembled once and then never taken apart.
- Less parts overall; each piece is molded separately, but injection molding allows for more complex pieces to be made than laser-cut acrylic.
- 6 pieces in total for the body; 9 when counting the optical surfaces.
- (Not shown) Elastic nylon for fastening the smartphone. This was introduced in later versions of the Seebright Ripple and carried over to this design.
Using this sketch as a base, Taylor created a rendering in Solidworks showing what the Ripple 2.0 might look like. The end result was this:
The end result of the rendering was a design that looked more like a finished product as opposed to a DIY kit, and featured improvements to its ergonomic design such as a dedicated forehead indentation and three-dimensional finger indentations. In addition, the internal structure and optical surfaces remained the same as the original Ripple, meaning that the same assets could still be used. However, there was one major criticism. The design ended up looking bulkier when compared to the original, due to the fact that the concept made use of three-dimensional moldings whereas the original used flat pieces of laser-cut acrylic. This was to be expected as the optical paths and surfaces remained the same between both versions.
Despite the attractive new design, it was ultimately dropped as the focus was shifted toward creating a version of the Ripple that was smaller and more portable than the original. In order to assist with the project, an expert was brought in as a design consultant. Afterwards, I was tasked once again to create concept sketches for what a “Ripple 2.0” might look like:
This time, I was given free reign in order to create what I felt the “Ripple 2.0” should be. I was asked to present three different designs and explain their merits. In addition, the expert would also be designing his own version to present. This was done so that notable features from different designs might be incorporated into the final product.
The first design I sketched featured a retractable visor that would slide and close off the opening where the smartphone would be placed, protecting the inner optical surfaces inside the device. This also meant that the visor was protected when retracted into the body of the device, in addition to creating a smaller footprint for the device itself. Finally, the ergonomics were simplified to the point where the distinctive “ripples” were no longer present. The result was a more fluid, portable, and ergonomic design.
The second design was more conventional than the first design, featuring a fixed visor protected by the body of the device. However this design featured a redesign of the lower portion around the eyepiece, doing away with the peripheral window and utilizing a concave curve to create the eyepiece holder. This resulted in a more open and fluid design. Just like the first concept, the “ripples” were done away with for a more simplified concave shape. Lastly, indentations for the thumb were added just above the visor.
The final design ended up being the largest departure from the previous designs as it did away with any organic shape in order to create a more striking profile. Instead, most of the surfaces were made of gentle curves terminating into beveled edges, giving the design a rhomboidal shape. The peripheral window was brought back in order to complete the shape, however it’s design is much more compact and compliments the indentation for the thumb placement. The thumb placement itself was designed as a geometric shape in keeping with the overall style of the concept, and as a finishing touch, the Seebright logo would be presented on the mirror panel embossed into a raised rhombus mimicking the design of the Seebright AR Marker. This was also a callback to the original Ripple design with the Seebright Logo outline cut into the mirror panel. Finally, the design included an integrated magnetic switch for interacting with content without the need for a bluetooth controller.
In the end, none of these concepts were chosen for further exploration, and Seebright went ahead with the consultant’s own designs. However, some of the features I touched on in these designs did in fact influence the final product, which you can still see on Seebright’s website. Namely, the retracting visor and a method to interact with screen content without a controller:
After the initial design was chosen, several pre-production prototypes were made using laser-cut acrylic, and after several user testing sessions at the University of California Santa Cruz campus, Seebright narrowed down a design for advanced testing with external developers. Sadly, the prototypes never did get past the pre-production stage as priorities in the company shifted to other areas. However, if the Ripple 2.0 eventually does get released, it would be a boon to beginning mixed reality developers, enthusiasts, and the curious alike.