We recently paid a visit to our friends at MOO HQ which is only a stones throw from our Bloomsbury base to meet up with Toby Hextall and Phil Thomas who are the go-to designers on all things product and packaging. We wanted to get some packaging tips and also start prototyping a few concepts and Toby and Phil were kind enough to help us out.
The Moo office is a beautiful and inspiring place and so we couldn’t help but take a few snaps before getting down to business.
After a catchup and some brainstorming we set to work on a first iteration container to house a brain box and set of MOO’s NFC cards. They have some great kit and we were able to prototype a set of packaging inserts and a card box using their Graphtec FC2250 Flatbed Plotter. The machine cuts and scores each piece of card very fast and accurately and it also works with an inDesign plug-in making the whole experience super smooth.
We learnt a lot about product packaging in a short period of time and worked through several iterations of inserts designed to hold a ply brain box and business card box. Whilst refining a design we also tried out various card stocks including thick corrugated sheets and recycled craft card. We discovered that the insert had a tendency to rise up around the plywood brain box so added two flaps that the brain would sit on top of to prevent this rising from happening. The box of cards also caused the insert to flex and so we tried out different tab widths as well as corrugated card to work around that.
Below is a video put together to show the machine we used to cut the inserts and the iterations in a little more detail:
We’re excited to see what else we can produce and how we can develop our packaging prototypes. We hope to spend some more time with Phil, Toby and the rest of the team in the future and we’ll keep you posted as always as things develop. Exciting times!
The paradigm that Museum in a Box uses to connect objects to related content is simple:
- Take a Thing.
- Put that Thing on a Brain.
- Receive lovely and interesting Content.
You can think of Things in the above scenario as ‘keys’ that unlock the context to the object you’re looking at. Sometimes the Thing is a 3D print of a scanned artefact, sometimes it’s a picture postcard and sometimes it’s fun to leave things a bit ambiguous – what is the Thing you’re holding? How does it relate to the Content you’re listening to?
This is what we explored a bit with Prototype No.13, which you can watch a demo of in the above video.
For this Box, we used some public domain audio from The Internet Archive as the Content and decided to try out a form factor for the Things that reflected what you would be listening to but still leaves a lot to the imagination…
So in case you’ve not guessed yet, we used the Planets Suite by Gustav Holst for this Box, hence our spherical Content keys/triggers. We sourced some half-spheres of birchwood from eBay, as this seemed like the easiest way to get an RFID tag inside a globe shape. Polystyrene may have been cheaper but we like the look and feel of the plain wood. We slapped an RFID sticker on one half and used wood glue to join this to its counterpart.
Making this prototype was also a good exercise in testing the limits of our tech. It turns out that smaller RFID tags have (maybe unsurprisingly) a shorter pickup range when offered up to the RFID reader we’re currently using. In a quick test, the small tag would not trigger the audio when housed in our 32mm diameter balls (so their range is less than 17mm). Fortunately, upgrading to 25mm tags extended the range of our wee planets to about 2 or 3cm. We also found out that tags only register on the reader if offered in a near parallel orientation (as in the GIF above).
We re-purposed a gift box to house our Raspberry Pi, tag reader, battery, audio speaker & cables and made a simple insert with holes to hold the planets in a nice formation and another to suspend them over the RFID reader. (Extra special thanks to my partner and her mum for helping with this!)
All in all creating this Box only took about half a day and we’re very pleased with the results 🙂