Interdisciplinary teams create connected products for small spaces

April 23, 2020

Ann Arbor, MI - The challenge for this semester's Integrated Product Development could not have been more timely.

As the University of Michigan pivoted from traditional classes to online-only instruction, four teams comprised of students from the Michigan Ross School of Business, Michigan Engineering, the University of Michigan School of Information, and the Michigan STAMPS School of Art&Design each continued to develop, design, build and market a brand new product profitable at a cost of less than $200. Their challenge: to create a technology-connected product to enable more satisfying use of small spaces - then convince real consumers in a simulated marketplace to buy it.

Students created products that not only made efficient use of limited space but also promoted the well-being of users who might now be confined to their homes. The portable khamai lamp ($70) transforms to provide light levels and hues appropriate to different tasks and moods. The ergo desk ($89) adjusts to a variety of seated and standing levels reminds the user to take regular breaks and folds up for easy storage. The "diffuser and sand haven" atmos ($110) provides users with a customizable screen-free connection to a natural environment. And the mood tactile board ($80), together with its accompanying app, helps users process their emotions through the creation of decorative art for their space.

From April 15-21, the products competed in an online marketplace where real consumers with a virtual budget of $200 could explore product websites and select the items they wished to "buy" with their virtual money. After choices made by 790 consumers were tabulated, the ergo desk led the pack in units sold, but the atmos diffuser posted the greatest profit!

Learn more about the IPD course, co-taught by Eric Svaan of the Ross School of Business and Stephanie Tharp of the STAMPS School of Art&Design, and managed by the Tauber Institute for Global Operations.

About Tauber Institute for Global Operations

The Tauber Institute for Global Operations is a joint venture between the Michigan Ross School of Business and Michigan Engineering, working with 30 industry partners to facilitate cross-disciplinary education in global operations management. In addition to a broad array of core and elective courses, the innovative LeadershipAdvantageSM Program provides students with the tools to ascend to major operations leadership roles. Well-designed and managed team projects form the cornerstone of the Tauber Institute experience and allow students to apply their knowledge to real-world settings.