Thesis: Research on how product design concepts can be incorporated in improving ‘klikyball’, which is a stress reduction ball, to assist university students in releasing pressure, hence dealing with stress.
We will write a custom Proposal on Product Design Concepts – Improving ‘klikyball’ specifically for you
807 certified writers online
Industrial and product design
Chitale and Gupta (2009) define industrial design as the process of improving a product’s design, usability, aesthetics, or functionality using applied science and art. Furthermore, industrial design may also be used in enhancing a product’s marketability. In order to be effective in improving the usability and functionality of a product, designers undertake a comprehensive analysis of the target customers’ needs.
Subsequently, product designers engage in extensive evaluation of a product’s functionality in order to identify potential gaps (Lesko 2013). The evaluation process entails analysing the product’s characteristics such as form, colour, usability, and texture amongst others.
The evaluation stage is a critical element in the product design process because it enables designers to conceptualise ideas on how a product can be improved through innovation (Lesko 2013). Thus, it is imperative for product designers to possess optimal creative, analytical, inquisitive, and technical skills.
Product designers should also be conversant with design research methodologies, the prevailing global trends, manufacturing processes, material technologies, and the importance of sustainability.
Bordegoni and Rizzi (2011, p. 232) assert that good design ‘is about combining functionality, relevance, and commercial viability with visual and emotional appeal in a marketplace that demands products that minimise environmental impact from production to disposal’. This goal can only be achieved if the product designers adhere to acceptable design processes and procedures.
For example, it is important for designers to undertake comparative product research in addition to investing in the development and testing of prototypes prior to investing in mass production of the final product. Bordegoni and Rizzi (2011) argue that prototyping and model making increases the likelihood of succeeding in improving a product’s functionality for the designer is in a position to identify potential gaps in the product.
Considering the complexities involved in product designing, it is imperative for designers to utilise state-of-the-art technologies, viz. the design and manufacturing systems such as the computer-aided technologies. Some of the technologies that can be utilised include the Computer-Aided Manufacturing and the Computer-Aided-Design [CAD].
The CAD technology improves the effectiveness of product designing by reducing the amount of time that designers consume in designing a product. Therefore, the CAD technologies enable product designers to progress from the concept development stage to the production stage.
Furthermore, the CAD programs are also effective in improving the effectiveness with which the designers develop the prototype through simulation (Bordegoni & Rizzi 2011). One of the CAD technologies that are of significant importance in product design includes the AutoCAD, which enable designers to develop new products.
The CAM technologies are used in assisting product designers to be effective and efficient in managing the manufacturing process. Through the direction of the product designer, CAM technologies can be integrated into the production process thus ensuring consistency in the production process and human safety at the same time.
The role of product design in alleviating stress
If not well managed, stress can affect individuals’ productivity and thus their health. Reynolds and Fletcher (2009, p.1804) define stress as a ‘non-specific response of the human body to a demand, hence it not only includes a nervous tension, but also a psychological response of the human body’.
This observation means that as demands facing an individual increase, the body tries to adapt to the prevailing conditions in order to establish a state of balance. Some of these adjustments lead to increased respiratory rates, high blood pressure, changes in blood glucose level, and high heartbeat rate.
Effective product design has played a key role in improving the quality of life of different groups in society. Some of the products developed through industrial design have played a remarkable role in improving the effectiveness with which individuals deal with pressure emanating from different sources.
Get your first paper with 15% OFF
In their pursuit for academic excellence, students experience pressure from different sources such as environmental, social, and economic sources (Shamsuddin et al. 2013). For example, students experience pressure arising from the school environment such as conflict amongst peers and school workload.
The existence of financial challenges is also another psychological source of stress amongst students. Pfeiffer (2001, p.63) argues that many ‘students have to work while they are attending college in order to pay their fees’.
Thus, some students are forced to work for long hours and late into the night (Dyrbye, Thomas & Shanafelt 2006). Findings of a study conducted by Rafidah, Azizah, Norzaidi, Chong, and Noraini (2009) show that 60.3% the students interviewed are forced to forego social or personal activities that they enormously enjoy in order to attend to school demands.
If not well managed such stress might affect their productivity adversely (Hall 2006). Diverse categories of products have been developed through product design in an effort to assist individuals to deal with stress. However, the application of these product categories in managing stress varies. Some of the most common product stress-reduction techniques are evaluated below.
Stress reduction techniques
Conventional stress reduction techniques
Previous studies show that different techniques and products have been developed in an effort to assist individuals to deal with stress. Some of the most common techniques advocate individuals to engage in recreational activities, music therapy, and gardening activities. However, some of these techniques are not effective in assisting individuals to deal with stress in the contemporary world.
For example, music therapy may not assist an individual to deal with stress if the choice of music does not elicit a response that enables the individual to handle the stress. For example, the choice of music may be undertaken under the watch of untrained personnel (Lehrer, Woolfork & Sime 2007).
Currently, students face pressure emanating from different environments. Subsequently, they may not have ample time to participate in some of the activities such as recreation and gardening activities. Additionally, engaging in such activities requires a substantial amount of resources, which are scarce (Lehrer, Woolfork & Sime 2007).
Emerging stress balls
Numerous studies on how to manage stress have been conducted over the past decades. This aspect has led to the development of different products in an effort to assist individuals to deal with stress at their workplace and in learning institutions.
Stress balls are amongst the emerging stress reduction products that are increasingly being used. Parker (2009, p.67) defines stress ball as ‘an object that fits in the palm of your hand and be easily squeezed to decrease muscular and emotional tension’. Stress balls are categorised amongst malleable toys. Stress balls are effective in reducing stress and have gained relevance in managing stress over time.
The stress reduction balls are of different designs. For example, some of the balls are designed using cell polyurethane, which is made of foam rubber. Moreover, the balls are of different colours and shapes and they can easily be manipulated using the hand, thus reducing muscle tension. Companies are increasingly using stress balls in their product promotion process.
Theories of stress balls
One of the most prominent theories about stress balls includes the psychological theory. According to this theory, individuals process stressful situations through two main channels. Shapiro, Shapiro, and Schwartz, (2000, p. 750) posit that one of these channels includes the ‘primal sensory channel, which is comprised of the sound, smell, sight, and sensation of the situation’.
The other channel includes the intellectual channel, which entails the process whereby one’s brain tries to evaluate the situation at hand in order to make sense (Sheryl & Heather 2006).
Under stressful situations, the basic sensory channel is blocked. This assertion means that the sensory organs are not in a position to process information from the environment vividly. On the other hand, the intellectual channel is usually muted. During such situations, a significant proportion of the brain is concentrated to processing information that originates from the hands.
Therefore, stress reduction techniques that focus on the hands become effective in assisting an individual relief stress. This aspect arises from the view that the hands will help reduce tension originating from the brain cycles.
Subsequently, the brain processing power is shifted from concentrating on the intellectual activities to the physical activities. Stress reduction balls keep hands engaged in performing repetitive movements, which become subliminal. In the process, the anxiety being experienced is transferred to the stress ball (Sheryl & Heather 2006).
Types of stress balls
Different types of stress balls have been produced in an effort to assist individuals to deal with stress. Some of the common stress balls include beanbag, liquid filed stress balls, foam, and the Chinese stress balls.
- Beanbags – according to Sheryl and Heather (2006, p.14), these stress balls are ‘made of leather or cloth within which foam balls or small beans are filled’.
- Foam – these balls are mainly customised and companies use them in their promotional processes.
- Chinese stress balls – these balls are unique as they are made using metal. However, they are ineffective for they usually produce noise while being rotated.
- Liquid filled stress balls – Sheryl and Heather (2006, p.14) posit that this type of stress balls ‘are filled with a special gel or liquid’. The ball is usually transparent, which enables an individual to view the content movement as the ball is squeezed.
- Magnetic stress balls – manufacturers have developed different magnetic balls with the intention of assisting students to deal with stress. The magnetic balls are comprised of a kit that is made up of several balls. The magnetic balls can be made in different shapes. One type of the magnetic stress balls includes the Klikyballs. Klikyballs (2014, par. 1) defines Klikyballs as ‘small and smooth magnetic spheres that stick to one another such that they can be manipulated into unlimited number of fun shapes and designs’.
Benefits of stress balls
Some of the major health-related stressors as evaluated by scholars relate to sleeping habits and exercise. However, most of these studies led to different findings. For example, a study conducted by Turbow in 1985 involving 891 graduate students and upperclassmen shows that students who exercised on average 7 hours per week in an effort to minimise their stress levels performed poorly academically (Rafidah et al. 2009).
Additionally, another study conducted by Trockel, Barnes, and Egget (2000) shows that engaging in exercises for an extensive number of hours per week may addict students to exercises, which is psychologically unhealthy.
Sleeping habits have also been cited as a major source of stress amongst students. For example, a study conducted in 2001 showed that the performance of students who sleep for long hours, for example, nine or more hours based on GPA is relatively better as compared to students who sleep for few hours (Rafidah et al. 2009).
Students who sleep for few hours may experience psychological maladjustments, which might increase their level of anxiety culminating into stress if poorly managed (Shamsuddin et al. 2013).
Subsequently, students are mainly characterised by poor performance due to their low level of concentration in classrooms. Therefore, the likelihood of such students making mistakes in their academic tests is high. Sleep deprivation has negative impact on the students’ cognitive performance.
Living healthy is a critical component in one’s effort to succeed in a competitive world. The changing environment presents a major challenge amongst students. Despite this aspect, students have an obligation to deal with the pressures faced. A number of studies have been conducted in an effort to determine the health benefits of stress balls. The studies have identified a number of benefits.
First, stress balls are very effective in reducing excessive physical tension, hence improving the efficiency with which the various body parts function. The stress reduction products are also effective in sleep promotion. This aspect means that squeezing the stress ball improves one’s ability to sleep.
Additionally, the stress ball improves the performance of the mind. For example, an individual’s clarity of the mind is improved substantially, which is achieved by diverting focus from the stressful situation. By using the klikyball, students concentrate on developing different designs, which improves their creativity.
Thus, the students’ mental strength is improved, which enhances the level of concentration. In addition to the above benefits, stress balls enhance blood circulation within the body, which means that the different internal organs are not deprived of the essential minerals and nutrients.
Considering the effectiveness of the stress balls in reducing stress, individual and corporate customers are increasingly adopting the stress balls in an effort to minimise stress. This aspect highlights the high market potential for firms in the toy industry.
The above literature review shows that product design plays a fundamental role in new and continuous product improvement. Product design enables designers to improve the functionality, usability, and the commercial viability of diverse product categories.
However, product design can only be successful if designers undertake a comprehensive product evaluation in order to identify the prevailing gaps that can be improved through innovation. The identified gap should be improved through effective conceptualisation of the idea. Furthermore, it is also is imperative for product designers to possess optimal creative, analytical, inquisitive, and technical skills.
The concept of product designing also requires designers to integrate effective technologies in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency with which the product designing process is undertaken. Some of the technologies that product designers can consider include the computer-aided technologies such as the CAM and CAD technologies.
The CAD technologies improve the designing process by assisting designers in the prototyping and model development process. On the other hand, the CAM technologies enable designers to reduce the time involved in the product designing process.
The study identifies some of the stress reduction techniques that have been proposed by various scholars and medical practitioners. Some of these techniques include participating in recreational activities, music therapy, and gardening. However, some of these activities are ineffective considering the resources’ scarcity experienced by students.
Product designing has led to the development of diverse product categories such as stress reduction products, which have enabled individuals to ease the pressure arising from the different daily activities. In the course of undertaking their academic activities, students experience pressure emanating from different sources such as the school environment, economic, and social sources.
One category of the stress reduction products includes the stress balls, which are of different types such as the beanbags, foam, the Chinese stress balls, liquid filled stress balls, and the magnetic stress balls. The Klikyball is one type of stress balls that can assist students in dealing with stress. The Klikyballs are magnetic in nature, and thus they can be manipulated into different shapes, which is fun.
Numerous studies have been conducted in an effort to determine the effect of stress on the academic performance of university, college, and high school students. The studies have identified stress as major hindrance in the students’ pursuit of high academic performance, and hence future career success.
Some of the major sources of stress amongst university students include social, economic, and environmental factors. Most of the studies conducted have not taken into account whether perceived stress amongst students has an effect on their academic performance.
Considering the pressure faced by students and hence the likelihood of experiencing stress, it is imperative for students to consider incorporating effective stress management practices (Hall 2006). However, the choice of stress reduction method should be cost-efficient. One of the most effective stress reduction products that students should consider includes the stress balls such as the Klikyballs.
The balls enable individuals to engage in fun by manipulating the magnetic balls into different shapes. The process of shaping the balls allows the student to concentrate on the activity at hand, hence diverting their mind from the source of stress.
Statement of the problem
The literature review conducted above shows that students are experiencing pressures emanating from different sources in their quest to achieve academic excellence, which might allow students to experience stress.
For example, some university students undertaking different degree programs such as Masters are forced to work on part-time or full-time basis in order to source for the finances necessary to cater for their degree programmes. Moreover, students are experiencing pressure emanating from the school environment. Examples of such pressures include increased workload of school, homework, and conflict amongst students.
In an effort to deal with the situation, university managements are increasingly being concerned on how to improve the school environment in order to help students to deal with stress. Despite this aspect, students have a certain capacity to deal with stress (Dowda, Ainsworth, Addy, Saunders, & Riner 2001).
One of the ways through which this goal can be achieved is by incorporating stress reduction products. Considering the financial constraint experienced by most students, it is imperative for product designers to develop effective and cost-efficient stress reduction products (James 2008).
Stress balls are some of the most commonly used stress reduction products. The balls have gained remarkable relevance amongst different consumer groups, such as individual and institutions (Dusselier, Dunn, Wang, Shelley & Whalen 2005).
In order to deal with stressful situations in their learning process, this research proposal will seek to evaluate how university students can deal with stress using stress balls to help them to relieve stress. This goal will be achieved by determining how Klikyball, which is a stress ball that already exists in the market, will be improved by incorporating the concept of product design.
The Klikyballs will be improved by undertaking a comprehensive product design by assessing the different characteristics of the Klikyballs such as the form and functionality of the stress balls. Some of the aspects that will be taken into account in the designing process entail incorporating a technique whereby the colour of the stress ball will change systematically when shaped differently.
This move will play a fundamental role in establishing a balance between the intellectual channel and the primary sensory channel. Subsequently, the likelihood of the stress product improving the ability of the student to deal with stress will improve significantly.
The product will undergo a comprehensive industrial designing process in order to ensure that it enables students to achieve a high level of endurance to the various stressors. One of the aspects that will be taken into account entails ensuring that the stress ball meets all the safety standards in order to protect the target consumer.
In a bid to address the issues outlined in the above objectives successfully, the researcher intends to evaluate one main research question, viz. how effective are Klikyballs in assisting individuals to release the pressure experienced in the learning process and how can product designing techniques be incorporated in improving the balls?
Significance, ethical considerations, and limitations of the study
The study will be of great significance to a number of stakeholders. First, students will appreciate the importance of stress balls in helping them to deal with stress. Therefore, students will appreciate the importance of using the Klikyballs as a stress-relieving product, hence improving their academic performance.
The study will also be of great significance to manufacturers of the klikyball. The manufacturers will be in a position to understand the process through which they can improve their manufacturing capacity. One of the issues that the product owners will understand relate to improving the product’s usability, functionality, reliability, and safety.
Furthermore, the processes of improving the Klikyballs will enable the students to understand the various concepts involved in the product designing processes. Subsequently, they will be in a position to appreciate the significance of product design in assisting individuals to deal with stress.
In a bid to conduct the study successfully, the researcher will ensure that ethical standards are maintained. First, the researcher will ensure that the selected respondents are respected. For example, the researcher will ensure that the respondents are not coerced to participate in the study. Therefore, the respondents will be accorded the right to pull out of the study without any consequences.
The researcher will ensure that the respondents are aware of the purpose of the study. Furthermore, the researcher will ensure that the confidentiality of the respondents is maintained by concealing aspects that can lead to their identification such as names and physical addresses.
The researcher will also seek permission from the Oxford University management from where he intends to select the sample study. This move will aid in eliminating suspicion.
One of the major limitations of this study is that it only focuses on one type of stress balls, viz. the magnetic stress balls. However, it will be assumed that the findings of the study can be replicated in improving other types of stress balls through effective product design.
Maxwell (2005) argues that the research design adopted affects the quality of the study conducted. In conducting this study, the researcher will utilise quantitative research design, which will enable the researcher to assess the extent to which the klikyballs can assist students to deal with stress. This goal will be achieved by conducting an experiment on the relationship between the two research variables.
The experiment will be undertaken through a controlled environment. The experiment will involve two main groups of students. One of the groups will be exposed to pressure that will contribute to an increase in the level of their stress. However, this group will not be issued with the stress ball. On the other hand, the second group of students will be subjected to similar environment, but will be issued with the Klikyballs.
By conducting such an experiment, it will be possible to determine how the two groups respond to the stress environment. Subsequently, the researcher will be in a position to determine the degree of correlation and variation between the research variables. Furthermore, using quantitative research design will enable the researcher to condense the data collected from the field.
This goal will be achieved by computing the variance, correlation, and standard deviation. Therefore, it will be possible to analyse the data using graphs, charts, percentages, and tables. Maxwell (2005) asserts that the amount of data collected has a significant impact on the extent to which the findings of a study on a particular issue are conclusive and representative of the prevailing situation.
Populations and sample
The researcher will target masters’ students from the Oxford University in the UK. The decision to target these students is informed by the view that they have sufficient understanding on the impact of stress on their academic performance. In the course of pursuing different degree programs, the Oxford University students experience pressure emanating from the school environment.
Despite this aspect, the students are committed to achieving educational excellence by attaining high grades and completing their degree programme successfully. However, such achievements may be hindered if they do not release the pressures experienced, which are a potential source of stress.
The researcher will integrate the concept of sampling. Demming (2002, p.23) argues that conducting ‘a study on a sample is easier and manageable; therefore, a researcher can conduct a thorough investigation’. Random sampling method will be utilised in selecting the study sample.
Using random sampling technique will ensure that all masters’ students in different faculties within Oxford University are accorded an opportunity of being selected as the sample study. Therefore, the researcher will eliminate bias in selecting the sample. A sample of 100 masters’ students will be selected from all study disciplines in the university.
In a bid to improve the reliability of the data collected and hence the credibility of the study, the researcher will utilise primary and secondary sources of data. In the quest to gather data from primary sources, the researcher will utilise different instruments, which include questionnaires and interviews.
The researcher will adopt structured questionnaires in gathering data by preparing questions and meeting face-to-face with respondents. The research questions will be comprised of both open and close-ended questions.
Some of the aspects that the researcher will focus on include collecting data on the sources of stress amongst students. Furthermore, data collection will entail understanding the stress reduction strategies adopted by students.
The data collection process will also include gathering data on the effectiveness of the Klikyballs in reducing stress. Furthermore, the researcher will gather data on how the Klikyballs can be improved using effective product design methodologies and processes.
Data analysis and presentation
In conducting this study, the researcher will utilise Microsoft Excel as the main data analysis tool. This tool will provide the researcher with an opportunity to evaluate and present data using bar graphs, pie charts, tables, and charts. Therefore, the researcher will condense the data collected from the field. Moreover, using graphs and pie charts will enable the target stakeholders to interpret the findings of the study effectively and easily.
The researcher recognises the importance of having sufficient time in conducting the study. The researcher estimates that the study will be completed successfully in 3 months. The process of conducting the study will entail a number of activities. The chart below illustrates how the researcher intends to utilise the three months.
Conclusion, recommendations and future product design
This research study identifies stress as one of the major hindrances in the students’ pursuit of educational excellence. Despite the challenges faced, students are under pressure to attain optimal level of academic excellence in order to succeed in their respective careers. However, this goal may be affected by the existence stress.
This study seeks to understand the effectiveness of Klikyballs in assisting individuals to release the pressure experienced in the learning process. The study mainly focuses on how product-designing techniques can be incorporated in improving the Klikyballs. Gaining such understanding will provide insight on how product design techniques can assist students to minimise pressure using the Klikyballs.
The study proposes how product-designing techniques can be incorporated into improving the ‘Klikyballs’. The study proposes the improvement in the Klikyballs’ functionality and effectiveness in reducing stress by enhancing the colour functionality. The study proposes incorporating a technique whereby the colour of the stress ball will change systematically when shaped differently.
In the course of undertaking their product improvement process, it is imperative for product designers to consider integrating undertaking a comprehensive evaluation and product analysis in order to identify potential gaps that can be improved through product designing.
Therefore, the significance and relevance of product design is likely to succeed into the future through its utilisation in new and continuous product development.
Bordegoni, M & Rizzi, C 2011, Innovation in product design; from CAD to virtual prototyping, Springer, London.
Chitale, A & Gupta, R 2009, Product design and manufacturing, PHI Learning, New York.
Demming, W 2002, Sample design in business research, John Wiley and Sons, New York.
Dowda, M, Ainsworth, B, Addy, C, Saunders, R & Riner, W 2001, ‘Environmental Influences, physical activity and weight status in 8 to 16 year olds’, Archives of Paediatric and Adolescent Medicine, vol. 155 no.18, pp. 711-717.
Dusselier, L, Dunn, B, Wang, Y, Shelley II, C & Whalen, D 2005, ‘Personal health, academic, and environmental predictors of stress for residence hall students’, Journal of American College Health, vol. 54 no.4, pp. 15–24.
Dyrbye, N, Thomas, M & Shanafelt, D 2006, ‘Systematic review of depression, anxiety, and other indicators of psychological distress among the US and Canadian medical students’, Academic Medicine, vol. 81 no.5, pp. 354-373.
Hall, M 2006, The impact of stress on academic success of college students, <https://www.redorbit.com/news/health/391477/the_impact_of_stress_on_academic_success_in_college_students/>
James, A 2008, Managing stress in education; a comprehensive guide for staff and students, Optimus Education, New York.
Klikyballs: Why Klikyballs magnetic balls 2014, <https://klikyballs.com/>
Lehrer, M, Woolfolk, R & Sime, W 2007, Principles and practice of stress management, Guilford Press, New York.
Lesko, J 2013, Industrial design; materials and manufacturing guide, Wiley, New Jersey.
Maxwell, J 2005, Qualitative research design: an interactive approach, Sage Publication, New Jersey.
Parker, E 2009, The wizard’s workshop; creating a vision for a healthier and happier school year, AuthorHouse, New York.
Pfeiffer, D 2001, Academic and environmental stress amongst undergraduate college students, Cengage, New York.
Rafidah, K, Azizah, A, Norzaidi, M, Chong, S & Noraini, I 2009, ‘The impact of perceived stress and stress factors on academic performance of pre-diploma science students; a Malaysian study’, International Journal of Scientific Research in Education, vol. 2 no. 1, pp. 13-26.
Reynolds, C & Fletcher, A 2009, Encyclopaedia of special education, Wiley, New York.
Shamsuddin, K, Fadzil, F, Ismail, W, Shah, S, Omar, K, Muhammad, N, Jaffar, A, Ismail, A & Mahadevan, R 2012, ‘ Correlates of depression, anxiety and stress amongst Malaysian university students’, Asian Journal of Psychiatry, vol. 30 no. 2, pp. 1-6.
Shapiro, S, Shapiro, D & Schwartz, G 2000, ‘Stress management in medical education; a review of literature’, Academic Medicine, vol. 75 no. 7, pp. 748-759.
Sheryl, S & Heather, B 2006, ‘Using stress balls to focus attention of six grade learners’, Journal of At-Risk Issues, vol. 12 no. 2, pp. 7-16.
Trockel, M, Barnes, M & Egget, D 2000, ‘Health related variables and academic performance among first year college students; implications for sleep and other behaviours’, Journal of American College Health, vol. 49 no. 3, pp. 125-131.