James Beasley


Why entered the competition? 

I decided to enter the design spark connect the community challenge because at the time the UK was in a stricter form of lockdown and, being furloughed, saw the competition as a great way to help people with design and promote myself as a designer. After all, design should be about solving problems and if I have managed to do that here I shall be very pleased!
A special thanks has to go to a friend of mine who was forwarded the competition details by his university and, thinking I might be interested in it, sent the details to me!

Product Description

Canvas hopes to make multimedia devices more accessible to users with low dexterity and aims to cater for the "staying occupied and having fun" as well as the "video calling" and "social interaction" categories. I also hope that, much like how a real canvas helps a user to appreciate their surroundings, Canvas will help its users better appreciate what is around them instead of providing just a distraction.

Can you briefly outline how your design helps people isolated by Covid-19 ?

“Canvas focuses mainly on the video calling and keeping entertained categories of the competition and for those who are isolated; not only by Covid-19, I hope that Canvas will be able to make video connections with friends or relatives more convenient by offering a product that requires less dexterity to operate and has a few small features that aim to improve the experience of the user.

As far as offering a way to keep entertained goes, I’m hoping that my proposal will provide a rather interesting take on artistic expression; itself a good way to keep entertained for some, in addition to the many forms of entertainment currently afforded by a typical tablet computer but I do hope that Canvas will not distract its users from the world outside but instead help them to appreciate it and bespoke software may help with that.”

Can you explain what motivated you to come up with such a solution and take the time and effort to enter this challenge ?

“Funnily enough, I was referred to this competition by a friend of mine who had it sent to him from his University; I am always down to do some designing to solve a problem so this competition really fitted the bill! I saw the recommended criteria for the entries and came up with a load of designs based off of those. Canvas was just one of the 3 that I submitted for the competition but I definitely would’ve sent in more if we were allowed!

Not only did this competition seem like a great way to add some kudos to my CV, I also am excited that my product could actually be helping people if it is deemed viable and I think if there was ever a sense of purpose that I can really justify; helping other people, just improving on what we have through time, it just seems to make sense. If we all helped each other, ideally no-one would ever have a problem, and I like that.”

Can you briefly explain how your solution works both in terms of features and functionality (does it use an app, is it battery powered, what are the key functional blocks) ?

“So what I’m thinking of at the moment (you guys feel free to check out my progress on my canvas product development project I have made on the design spark website by the way!) is some kind of frame that will support a tablet computer but just make it a little better by providing a few hardware upgrades like cameras and perhaps speakers, as well as reducing the dexterous requirements of the user so those with reduced fine motor control or grip can use the product more easily. I am thinking this would mean it would have its own separate battery to power that stuff; in addition to this, there is likely to be a few software items, hopefully in an app(?) This would work with the hardware and try to make a touchscreen better suited for those with reduced dexterity; I know there are probably several variants already but given the hardware Canvas has, a bespoke piece of software is probably needed.”

How are the above features enabled technically including any Nordic chips and wireless technologies used, battery life (if applicable), sensors employed etc.?

“Well, this isn’t exactly my area of expertise however I have a Thingy on the way to help with the wireless technologies that I am likely to be using; I will need some cameras and speakers, and probably a microphone for Canvas so these could well come from Nordic or RS components, I am not quite there yet though! Obviously Bluetooth does drain a battery faster than usual but I am hoping that I could get at least a couple of days of battery life from Canvas, a minimum of a day and a maximum would realistically be a week and thankfully, most tablet computers have a lot of sensors already so hopefully I could just connect to those instead of getting new ones! Primarily Canvas focuses on hardware improvements although the software that is likely to accompany it will still be very important.”

Is this design a brand new concept or an evolution of something you’ve worked on / developed / were developing before ?

“Canvas wasn’t something I was working on before this competition; that’s not to say it’s the first bit of designing I’ve done but it is probably the furthest any one of my designs has gotten in terms of prominence!” 

Can you give us a brief summary of your background / career and where you would like to take your career in the future if you are a student ?

“Last year I finished my A-levels and I started working in a sheet metal factory from about August 2019; this was always a temporary thing though because the only reason I took this ‘gap year’ of sorts was so I could reapply for a degree apprenticeship; I applied too late for the 2019 intake! My current job title is trainee sheet metal worker; the factory I work at takes sheets of metal and turns them into products like housings for industrial or commercial products among many other things but it has been useful to know a bit more about the processes involved in the batch production of some metal products. My next step is hopefully going to happen very soon; I will either enter into a degree apprenticeship if I hear that I have been successful with the company I applied to or go to university to study product design engineering with the hopes of becoming some kind of product design engineer; I basically want to become a ‘professional inventor’ of sorts and solve lots more problems!”

Is there anything else you think important worth mentioning about your design and why you developed it not covered by the questions above ?

“Nope, I think you’ve covered most of it! :)”