SolarSPELL is an offline digital library used globally in school with no access to wifi or electricity. While SolarSPELL’s rapid expansion is great for outreach, it can no longer satisfy the large batch order quantities that they are now receiving, with their current means of productions. Our took up the challenge “How might we redesign SolarSPELL to improve the user experience as well as meet SolarSPELL’s goals for scale?” We finalized two main prototypes with an unconventional, and conventional approach. 

Visit SolarSPELL’s website here.

The former device

During our research phase, we evaluated SolarSPELL’s former device for its successes and flaws. The Raspberry Pi and Battery were velcroed down in a plastic box with an attached solar panel. We found that 60% of transported devices were unusable by the time they reached the destination. Additionally, the life of one device would not go beyond a year or two.

Prototype 1

The material for both prototypes is polypropylene with a matte finish. The transparent nature of this material allows for the inner components to be seen but is secure from tampering. In this manner, curious students can discover and observe the technology inside, but they won’t be able to accidentally damage the battery or Raspberry Pi.

The user experience was improved by adding an on/off button, external SD card access with a silicone flap, and a visible and protected battery percentage display. Durability was improved by creating an enclosed design that protects the battery, raspberry pi, voltage converter with an on/off button. Efficiency was improved by using a ratchet or friction hinge for the stand in order for the device to be adjusted to multiple angles. This stand doubles as a handle to improve portability and can be flattened for transportation. The angle is determined by the sun pointer located on the front in orer to get the highest possible sunlight for a shorter charging time. 

Prototype 2

A Short Guide

In order to improve the user experience further, a pamphlet was designed to accompany the device. This small guide explains how to connect to SolarSPELL, how to charge the unit efficiently, as we as tips for the use and care of the device with images and illutrations for easy understanding.