Rising Stars student Ariv Gupta (8th grade) developed Project:Shine, a smart, programmable t-shirt for kids. Below is the excerpt of his interview about how he plans to bring his product to market.
Jack: Why did you decide to go to the Code Hobbits Expeditions Shenzhen program?
Ariv: I decided to go to Shenzhen to learn about how things that we take for granted, for example, the iPhone, are made. The iPhone has wowed me for the entire time that I have been a user of it with its unique design and user-friendliness. That is the type of wow that I want my product to give you. My product is called the Project Shine, and it will revolutionize the way you look and let you choose what you want your wardrobe to look like.
It is a Smart T-Shirt that contains a matrix of customizable lights that you can program to your liking. It shows logos, text, it is sound-reactive, and it can do much more. It inspires people to code and even solves the problem of looking through your wardrobe for clothes for special events. You will create your wardrobe. People will even follow your example, reposting their version of your creation. No more searching for the shirt that matches, you can make your shirt always match. This is my vision of my product, and I went to Shenzhen to fulfill this vision, to create a better T-Shirt for the world. I decided to go to learn about and experience this behind-the-scenes process of manufacturing myself so that I can make a better product for everyone’s use. Shenzhen has crossed various technological boundaries that the United States has not.
Jack: What did you do/see/experience in Shenzhen?
Ariv: My first trip to Shenzhen was incredible. The first day that I got there, the Code Hobbits group went to go get Unicom sim cards for the week. We arrived at China Unicom (CU), and they told us that they can sell cards only on contract (postpaid). And they recommended we go out to a kiosk to buy prepaid cards, and they advised us to go to another shop. Then we went to the kiosk, and they sold us SIM cards, but then they took us to the same China Unicom branch for registering our identities. Then we had to go again to the kiosk store. And on the way there, the guy taking us told us that we actually did not need to go back. This is when I found out that “In China, what you think is easy will be complicated, but what you think is complicated will be easy.” Those words, from our guide, Nick, never failed to be true for the next seven days of my trip.
On the first day of our bootcamp, we went to SEG Makerspace, where our guide gave us a presentation on why Shenzhen was the place to go for manufacturing, and then told us about the product life cycle. Then we went to SIDA, which was a non-profit design agency where we got to see a few cool products that were designed there. Then, we went to Seeed Studio, the IoT hardware enabler, and learned about what products they had.
The next day, we went to Troublemaker Makerspace, where we became factory workers and assembled our very own 4k cameras. That day, we had the challenge to go source an SD card for the camera that we made at the Huaqiangbei market. I got a 64GB micro SD card for 25 RMB, which is 3.63 USD.
Then came the factories. First, we went to a manufacturer that made PCBs, or printed circuit boards. There, we got to see wave soldering machines, which soldered all of the components to the board and learned all of the steps of the PCB manufacturing process. Also, we went to an injection molding facility that made molds for many different products. We also got to see a whole plastic cutting process where one machine cut a block of plastic down to a smooth and sleek product part.
We saw many cool technological products in the city. I got to see a cup that supercools hot water quite fast. I got to see a fan that when it spun, it showed a cool image. I saw a full-color 3D printer and even a cat that talks to you! There were levitating globes and even robots. This brings me to my visit to UBTech Robotics. There, we saw dancing robots and even a robot that can pick itself back up if it falls. After that, we went to Makeblock. When I went there, I got to check out all of the cool products at Makeblock and even got to build my own robot. Then I got my age perfectly guessed by a robot, which was super cool. Then we had to leave, and I ended up finishing my robot, using it in my picture! After that, the last day came, and I spent that whole last day shopping at Huaqiangbei! We filled up two suitcases of what we bought and I still was not satisfied. My trip to China was extraordinary, and I was privileged to have gone there.
Jack: How was it different than what you expected? What did you learn that you did not know before?
Ariv: Shenzhen was totally different than I expected. I never thought that it would look even close to San Francisco, as it has many extravagant buildings. You look one way and see something good, and you look away, and you see a beat up shop. But it looked even better than San Francisco! Shenzhen was busier than San Francisco though. The metro stations were so busy, when I was coming down the escalator to the station, I could see a city of heads under me. There was a lot of greenery there that was to my surprise, well kept. When I was shown pictures of the city ten years ago compared to what it is like now, I was blown away. It used to be a fishing village, and in ten years, it was a huge city. That was crazy to imagine and it really showed me what China speed was. And to give a figure of what China speed is, in 2017, eleven skyscrapers were built in Shenzhen alone. That is more than any other city in China and the whole U.S.! Also, I saw some huge injection molding machines, the size of tiny houses. That was crazy to see.
I also learned many things there. I learned that there are many steps that you have to take before your product comes out of the hatch for manufacturing. You have to get so many engineers to do the design and wire routing before you get a final product, and that was a big thing that I learned. I also never knew that you had to put rails on the circuit boards that you design so that it can go through manufacturing. And that you had to put tiny objects called fiducials on your board to show the machine where to place what component.
Jack: What are some of the opportunities you can pursue?
Ariv: I’ll continue working on my product and use the new knowledge I have to launch my product to market.