UW-Stout News Story

Students’ eco-friendly camera, clock ideas top design contest

December 20, 2012

J. Makai Catudio and Ryan Barnes, industrial design students at University of Wisconsin-Stout, love digital cameras: Between them, they own five.

They also love their old film-based 35-millimeter cameras, but those sit on a shelf these days. Time has passed them by.

The DigitizerThis fall, Catudio and Barnes got to thinking about that conundrum and how they might be able to combine the ease and convenience of digital photography with a film-based camera that still works just fine.

They came up with an idea they call the Digitizer: A device that allows film-based cameras to take digital photos. Although it’s still just a concept — the product doesn’t exist yet — it already has garnered one rave review. It has won the international E-Waste Design competition sponsored by the University of Illinois.

In fact, UW-Stout students took first and second place out of 10 entries in the Reuse division, which focuses on reusing electronic products and materials that otherwise might end up in the trash. Second place in the Reuse division went to the Wake-Up Project, a smart clock made from cell phone parts and recycled plastic from electronic products.

J. Makai CatudioCatudio, of St. Paul, and Barnes, of Maple Lake, Minn., shared the $3,000 first prize.

Wake-Up Project team members shared $2,000 for second. They are Danny Kopren, of Maple Grove, Minn.; Lennon TeRonde, of Hartland; and Sam Wellskopf, of Campbellsport.

Both teams were from the senior-level class Systems, Environment and Context, taught by Whitney Nunnelley.

“Having two groups of students from UW-Stout's industrial design program place in this competition, which had submissions from across the world, shows that our students are receiving a high quality education that is preparing them for exciting and successful futures,” Nunnelley said.

The competition was open to college students and recent college graduates.

Contestants were required to submit a two-minute video that helped explain their project. The UW-Stout videos can be seen here.

The Digitizer

The Digitizer would fit into the cavity in the back of a 35-millimeter camera where a roll of film otherwise would go. When the Digitizer is turned on, an image sensor about the thickness of camera film would record each image taken.

The images then could be downloaded onto a computer directly from the Digitizer using a USB cable and special software, Catudio said.

“What we wanted to do was capture the artistic ability of the old analog film camera lenses, the cool effects and things you can do with a film camera,” Catudio said.

The Digitizer, including the removable sensor, would be made of something Catudio and Barnes call e-pulp, or material ground up from printed circuit board waste mixed with an eco-friendly resin.

“It’s completely producible,” said Catudio, also citing features such as compatibility with Windows, Mac and mobile operating systems and hardware and software that would be upgradable.

Ryan BarnesBarnes said the contest “posed some interesting constraints that did a good job setting up the problem. Developing products that solve big real-world problems is a good way to strike at innovation."

Wake-Up Project

The smart clock would be marketed to consumers as an alarm clock with programmable wake-up times.

It would be made from cell phone parts, recycled e-waste plastic and previously used wireless routers. The clock’s stand would be made with recycled steel.

“Using crossover cables connected to a built-in Web interface, the user can set a time for the clock to sound every morning, with an option to set up an entire schedule with variable settings for each day of the week,” team members said.

One of the team members, Kopren, said the project “brought to light the huge problem that is e-waste and let us come up with a solution that could educate users as well as teach entry level skills to repurpose other old electronics.”

The contest was through the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Held since 2009, the competition is designed to “prompt dialogue about product designs for environmentally responsible computing and entertainment.”

The U.S. produces several million tons of electronic waste each year.

Along with the Reuse category, there were nine entries in the Prevention category, which was won by a team from Auburn University. Teams from California State University-Long Beach and University of Limerick, Ireland, were second and third, respectively.

For more information, go to www.istc.illinois.edu.

For more information on UW-Stout’s industrial design program, go to the website. The program prepares students for careers in contemporary product design. Industrial designers create and develop concepts and designs that optimize the function, value and appearance of products and systems for the user and manufacturer.

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