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Team Vision for Problem Definition Phase

Our Plan:

  • Interview the customer to clarify project objectives
  • Draft customer and engineering requirements to guide project work
  • Identify resources at RIT to learn about the eye-gaze technology
  • Research current progress in the accessibility and robotic music fields
  • Identify team strengths and assign roles
  • Create a project schedule to direct and manage future work

What We Accomplished:

  • Conducted a successful initial interview with the customer
  • Defined the project through customer and engineering requirements
  • Met with RIT faculty to explore eye-gaze technology
  • Spent time exploring many related technologies, including eye-gaze products, robotic drum kits, and app development
  • Assigned team roles and explored team dynamics
  • Identified stakeholders and circles of influence
  • Drafted a risk management plan to prevent and resolve risks involved in the project
  • Outlined project project plan for the next phases of the project

Project Summary

The Robotic Drum Assist is a system that allows any student to participate in music education using a basic drum set. Music education is a requirement in New York State, and is widely accepted as being an integral learning experience for fostering creative thinking and expression. However, some physical disabilities don't allow for the use of most kinds of instruments. As it stands, most teachers use a hand-over-hand method to play instruments with students, which makes students dependent on teachers and caregivers in their classes. This system is intended to help those with physical disabilities that inhibit music participation, but would be able to control a robotic assist to interact with various percussive instruments. The assist will be controlled through multiple interfaces, including an eye-gaze system and a touchpad application, supporting multiple types of disabilities.

Use Cases

To help inform project requirements and specifications, a variety of simple use case scenarios were identified. These depict common situations where the robotic drum assist will be set up and used, and how this process impacts certain stakeholders. 

From a school's perspective, allowing students of all ability levels to independently participate in music education is important. The process for funding and acquiring the necessary assistive devices will start with discussion and action at higher-levels, and then be passed on to the teachers and students for use. When a class that could benefit from a drum assist device is identified, the device is obtained and set up for use. 

We also foresee potential use outside the classroom, such as at concerts or community events. Parameters such as volume and tempo can be adjusted for the eye-gaze control interface, which enables high customization for performance in any educational environment. At the end of classes and events, the device will always be broken down for storage or transportation, which helps drive a major portability requirement. 

When a robotic drum assist is allocated to a class, it is expected to be used in many formats. To accommodate for this desired customization and user variability, control interfaces will allow for programmable beats. This means that users of any ability level can play along using different instruments, even if they are unable to drive the rhythm real-time themselves. 

Project Goals and Key Deliverables

The goal is to deliver a functional prototype for use in high school music classes that would allow students to play independently. The designed interfaces will be interchangeable and support the independent control of tempo and volume (pressure) for a drum set consisting of a snare drum, bass drum, and hi-hat. The device will be safe, portable, and compatible with standard instruments and all users, allowing for easy set-up and take-down for use with different groups. There will be options for completely independent generation of beats and rhythms through interaction with the touch-pad controller, as well as support for pre-defined rhythms under eye-gaze control.

Customer Requirements (Needs)

Customer requirements were generated based on the given Project Readiness Package document (PRP) and our initial interview with the customer. 
The PRP can be found at this link: PRP - P20068 Robotic Drum Assist.docx
Our initial customer interview notes can be found at this link: First Interview Notes for P20068.docx

The full working Customer Requirements list can be found in the first tab of the Requirements document here: Requirements and Testing 1-30-20.xlsx

Engineering Requirements (Metrics & Specifications)

The Customer Requirements represent the overall needs of the project. To better define what actions will satisfy these customer requirements, a list of associated Engineering Requirements was created. These engineering requirements break down the project at a more technical level, identifying what specific actions must be performed in order to fulfill all customer requirements. This list also identifies the metrics to be used for measurement and validation of these requirements. 

These engineering requirements were created based on our understanding of the customer requirements, which was informed by research, interviews, and discussion. 

The full working Engineering Requirements list can be found in the second tab of the Requirements document here: Requirements and Testing 1-30-20.xlsx


There are numerous constraints guiding the core design of this project. These constraints are captured in several key requirements. 

  • Size/Weight - This device will be used by teachers in music classes, and so must be portable to accommodate for different class locations and events. It must also be easy to set up and take down, because a long or frustrating set up will take up class time. 
  • Interface Responsiveness - The control interfaces for the drums must be responsive, so that students can participate in activities independently. A large latency diminishes the quality of the musical experience, and could limit the enjoyment gleaned from participating in musical activities. 
  • Safety - The device's primary purpose is to strike a drum set with various drumsticks and mallets. If the power behind these strikes is not carefully managed, it could case harm to people and objects. 
  • Accessibility - As this device is aimed at providing better access to music education for students with varying ability levels, it is important that the control interfaces are simple and easy to use. 

House of Quality

The House of Quality combines the Customer Requirements and Engineering Requirements to clearly show their relationships, facilitate better design decisions, and double-check that engineering requirements adequately cover customer requirements. The aforementioned requirements lists are the main sources of input for the House of Quality representation, though organization and content is also influenced by bench-marking data.

The full working House of Quality page can be found in the third tab of the Requirements document at this link: Requirements and Testing 1-30-20.xlsx

Design Review Materials

The Problem Definition Design Review gives the customer(s) an early look at the design process, progress, and goals. It is also a source of feedback for the team as we begin the design process. This section covers some of the documents and notes associated with the review on Thursday, January 29th. 

Pre-Review Reading

Phase 1: Design Review Live Presentation Slides

Review Notes (to be added after review is conducted)

During the design review, the team presented their progress to the customer and advisor to solidify understanding of the problem to be solved. The agenda of the presentation included project background, problem statement, project deliverables, stakeholders, use scenarios, customer and engineering requirements, risk assessment, and the project plan for moving forward.

Plans for next phase

The next phase is System Level Design. By the next review the team hopes to be making substantial progress in conducting in-depth research into the technologies to be used, collecting data for benchmarking and testing, and creating concepts that will be used as the basis for early prototyping work. 

  • Project Schedule (Gantt Chart)
  • As an individual on the team, what are you doing to help your team achieve these goals? (Use the individual 3-week plan template attached to this page for this)

Relevant Files

Also see the Problem Definitions Documents page here: Problem Definition Documents

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