Database of Things is a centralized inventory and rental management tool used by the University of Design in Schwäbisch Gmünd.
Description

The Database of Things is a centralized database and management platform used by multiple labs at the University of Design in Schwäbisch Gmünd. It contains all information on the University's devices and equipment, including their rental status, rental history, warranty and condition. The Database of Things enables the University's staff to quickly access information on available devices and gives them a centralized tool to manage their complex inventory. Students can also access this platform to check for the availability of the devices.

Type

University initiated project, first semester

Tools used

PHP, MySQL, HTML, CSS, Adobe Photoshop, Git

Partners

Lukas Kenntner (version 1)

As-Is Scenario

Persona: Max (22), Student

1.
Max needs a micro controller for his semester project
2.
He doesn't know if the Media Lab still has some available
3.
Nonetheless he visits the Media Lab in the other building
4.
He asks the lab staff who then starts to search in some boxes
5.
Max gets the last one and the lab staff documents it down on a sheet of paper
6.
At the end of the semester Max wants to return his micro controller
7.
The list of rented devices is unsorted and the lab staff takes 2 minutes finding the entry
8.
Max has finally returned the micro controller while the other students are waiting in line
Insights found

By talking to lab staff and professors we found out the importance of the devices' technical information, not only for repairing broken equipment but also to comply with German regulations regarding electrotechnical safety.

After speaking to students and drawing the As-Is Scenario above, we focused on the three biggest design opportunities.

1.
The students don't know which devices are available
2.
The return of rented devices takes a long time
3.
The information of devices are scattered and hard to track down
Generating ideas

We brainstormed ideas and evaluated them by feasibility, given that the project time was 3 weeks. Constantly receiving feedback from students and professors we decided to design an online platform where the students could log in with their University credentials and access an overview of the lab's stock.

With the same online tool the lab staff should manage the rentals, hardware status and comprehensively search the inventory and view technical information about the devices.

To-Be Scenario

Persona: Max (22), Student

1.
Max needs a micro controller for his semester project
2.
He's browsing the online inventory and notices that there is one left
3.
He visits the Media Lab in the other building
4.
He asks the lab staff which then looks up the location of the item in the online inventory
5.
Max gets the micro controller and enters his University password to sign for the rental
6.
At the end of the semester Max wants to return his micro controller
7.
The lab staff enters Max's name in the online tool and instantly sees all devices rented to him
8.
Max has returned the micro controller in about 10 seconds
Becoming a real solution

After presenting our solution and generating interest at the exhibition, the university wanted us to implement the system.

With the labs' demanding needs, the system needed to scale. To achieve this I redesigned and reprogrammed the application with maintainability and scalability in mind. Where Version 1 was just a proof of concept, I built Version 2 as a modular system based on radAra.

Interface design version 1
DoT v2 / concept 1
Version 2

Besides achieving a more modular and clean user interface I wanted to improve the overall structure to adapt to the labs' needs. I drew concepts for a new administration panel and an enhanced profile to make it a better experience for the students. I also designed a dashboard displaying important statistics and links to relevant administrative pages to provide the University staff with an overview of their labs.

Information structure
Dashboard
Responsive interface design
Design elements

Outcome

~ 450
registered students
~ 3 000
listed devices
10 239
lines of code
Eager to see more?
Check out my other projects!