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4.2 From a need to a problem

So, working from the top down, the process starts with ‘need’ and ‘problem’; see Figure 8.

Although we usually work by identifying a need that converts to a problem, that requires a solution, don't forget the extra arrow at the side, taking this first part of the process full circle.
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1.1 Overview

Why are disasters important? They attract public attention because there is great loss of life, or because the event happened suddenly and quite unexpectedly, or because the accident occurred to a new project that had been regarded as completely safe. Certainly, the aspect of suddenness is one that features in many catastrophes, and indeed, it is this feature by which a catastrophe is defined.

Great disasters are always traumatic, especially for those who endure them and come through al
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2.2 Bell and Tainter improve the phonograph

If Edison was not willing to continue development of the phonograph then others were. Alexander Graham Bell, who had risen to prominence through his invention of the telephone, took a great interest in recording sounds, even suggesting to Edison that they might collaborate. Edison refused, so Bell set about developing a recording machine with the assistance of his cousin Chichester Bell, a chemical engineer, and Charles Tainter, a scientist and instrument maker. By 1887 Bell and Tainter had s
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Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should be able to:

  • Explain correctly the meaning of the emboldened terms in the main text and use them correctly in context;

  • Identify whether a given sound source can be classed as a musical instrument and explain why (Activity 2);

  • Identify the primary vibrator and any secondary vibrators in the most common types of instrument (Activity 3);

  • Appreciate that, when a note is played, a musical ins
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Learning outcomes

After studying this unit, you should be able to:

  • explain correctly the meaning of the emboldened terms in the main text and use them correctly in context;

  • describe simply what a pressure wave is and give a simple explanation of sound in terms of a travelling pressure wave;

  • explain ‘cycle’ in terms of an oscillating source and the pressure wave it produces;

  • relate amplitude (including peak-to-peak and r.m.s.), frequency, period a
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3.1 The state of ‘Being’

The structure of Section 3 is set out in Figure 25. Use this as a way of keeping track of the argument I am making.

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18.3 Characteristics of consumers and the market

As well as the characteristics of an innovation affecting the extent of its take-up, the nature of the market and the purchasing behaviour of consumers can influence success. Some people will always try to be among the first to buy a new product – Rogers (2003) calls people in this group innovators (Author(s): The Open University

12.1 Two models

So far you've seen that there are two general drivers of invention. One is the scientific and technological knowledge and skills that can be applied to invent a new product or process. The other is the recognition of a need or a potential market for an invention. But is one more important than the other? I'll consider briefly two simple models that explain how the innovation process starts.


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10.9.3 New manufacturing process

One of the reasons that a new device, like an RFID tag, has a chance of becoming mainstream technology is that a new manufacturing process has been invented that allows production on an industrial scale and at a relatively low cost.

Fluidic self-assembly (FSA) is a new manufacturing process that has been patented by Alien Technology Corp in the USA. In the FSA process tiny integrated circuits – trademarked as NanoBlocks – are suspended in liquid and flow over a substrate surface tha
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14 Summary

Products that display some type of human interaction acknowledge that human beings have a physical form. Our human form gives rise to design restrictions and limitations. Our physical forms differ considerably from one person to the next and our own physical form changes over time. As a consequence of our different physical forms we have different physical abilities. For example, we differ in our reach, our strength, our ability to grip and our ability to sustain effort. To draw a distinction
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12.1.2 Focus groups

A focus group is simply a group of people gathered together to discuss a particular issue. They have been used in all kinds of social and market research, including political policy making. In market research for product design, a focus group might be a group of purchasers of a particular product brought together to discuss their feelings and attitudes towards the product and rival products; or perhaps their general likes and dislikes about those types of products. The intention of the market
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8.1.2 Feedback

A second important principle is providing feedback to the user – for example, when you press a button it moves and clicks, or you hear some other sound or you see a light to indicate the action has been registered by the machine.

Here's another short video clip from Phillip Joe at IDEO, this time on feedback.

3 Designing for users

This section aims to develop your awareness of weaknesses in product designs, from the perspectives of usability and the variability in user populations, and to consider the opportunities for product design for different populations.

Although most producer companies devote major resources to researching the market for their products, many products still appear on the market that seem not to have been designed with their user in mind. You must have experienced or noticed some dangerous,
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6.3 Distribution systems

The water from service reservoirs is distributed by a network of pipes of various sizes, laid beneath the streets, pavements and verges of our towns and cities. Any part of a distribution system can be isolated by valves at appropriate points. Figure 44 shows both a loop (as at A) and a spur or dead end (as at B) within a typical distribution layout. Looped or ring mains are always preferred to spurs or dead ends because when the rate of flow is restricted in a long spur, the water will remai
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5.14.3 Electrodialysis

Electrodialysis is an electrochemical process in which ion transfer separates salt from water. It is effective only for substances that can be ionized: for example, salt (NaCl) becomes, in solution, a mixture of Na+ and Cl ions. (Silica, on the other hand, does not ionize and hence is not removed by electrodialysis. It could, however, be removed by reverse osmosis.) When electrodes, connected to a suitable direct current supply, are immersed in a salt solution, curren
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5.7.1 Mixed oxidant gases system

This is a relatively new system of disinfection. It involves electrolysis of high-purity NaCl brine to produce a mixture of chlorine dioxide, ozone and hypochlorite. This mixture is separated within the electrochemical cell by a membrane, or by exploiting density difference, and is then metered into the water requiring disinfection. The mixed oxidant gases are generated on demand and this is a great safety advantage, compared with having storage tanks of chlorine on site. The source for the d
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5.7 Disinfection

Before water can be passed into the public supply, it is necessary to remove all potentially pathogenic micro-organisms. Since these micro-organisms are extremely small, it is not possible to guarantee their complete removal by sedimentation and filtration, so the water must be disinfected to ensure its quality. Disinfection is the inactivation of pathogenic organisms and is not to be confused with sterilisation, which is the destruction of all organisms.

Worldwide, chlorine is the most
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5.6 Filtration

In filtration, the partially treated water is passed through a medium such as sand or anthracite, which acts as a ‘strainer’, retaining the fine organic and inorganic material and allowing clean water through. The action of filters is complex and in some types of filter biological action also takes place. Sand filters are used in water treatment to remove the fine particles which cannot be economically removed by sedimentation. They have been effective in removing Cryptosporidium,
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2.7 Infiltration

Entry of precipitation through the soil surface and on downwards, by gravity, is known as infiltration. The rate at which this process can take place is governed by the permeability (a measure of the ease with which water can flow through the subsurface layer) and by the existing degree of saturation of the soil. Infiltration can be impeded by outcropping impermeable rocks or by paved areas, and also by the presence of finegrained soils with a low permeability (such as clay). At certain times
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Learning outcomes

After studying this unit you should be able to:

  • describe the operation and mechanisms of the hydrological cycle;

  • list and describe the major physical, chemical and biological characteristics of clean fresh water, and explain their effects on aquatic organisms;

  • explain the mode by which potable water is produced through the processes of screening, microstraining, aeration, coagulation and flocculation, sedimentation, flotation, filtration and disinf
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