Address reminder for Kickstarter backers: Login to www.kickstarter.com to provide your address in the RiutBag survey if you haven’t yet. It’s important to fill this in so I can book international freight for everyone and, of course, send you your RiutBag!
Greetings! Here’s the fortnightly update with photos + videos as we launch into the new year ahead.
Problems + solutions
I always start by addressing risks. Good news! I’m pleased to share with you that no new problems have arisen. All chosen materials are successfully being made from scratch and are on schedule to reach the factory as intended. The factory and I are in touch daily to get everything lined up for a smooth manufacture and shipment.
If there are no problems, what are we up to? Now we’re getting on with all the fun stuff: double checking centimetre and millimetre measurements on each panel of the RiutBag, labelling the freight cardboard boxes to ensure they get from A to B, ordering the postal bags (made from recycled materials and 100% degradable) in which your RiutBags will be sent and ensuring the freight company is fully in tune with the freight forwarding warehouse so that each stage runs smoothly.
Riut = Revolution in user thinking
In 2015 we – the backers of this project – will see how our interest, imagination, openness and willingness to be part of something bigger turns words like “I’ve got an idea” or “I really want to do this” into action. The result is that we will all be wearing our bags the Riut way round! We're trying something new and, soon, you’ll be able to tell me the difference it makes to your journeys, commutes and urban travels.
Thanks to those backers who wrote in to ask about this! Riut is pronounced “riot”. It’s my disruptive but positive design philosophy to get users solving problems for themselves and others.
Over to you
This idea – Riut, Revolution in user thinking and RiutBag – is all for you. It’s designed to make you feel calm and confident when you’re using your RiutBag and, if you're interested, to show you that you can do this too: have an idea, think it through, get it to a point where you can show people and make it happen.
This is already happening! It brings me genuine pride and excitement, sitting here behind my laptop, when I get messages from backers telling me they’ve been inspired to try new things. Friends and family have heard me shout “This is *exactly* what it’s all about!” when such messages arrive. Keep them coming! If you've been inspired to do something new as a consequence this or any other Kickstarter project, get in touch!
I’ve heard from backers who are now rethinking the wallet, designing personalised compartments for their RiutBag, designing iPad integrations for use in the bath or in bed and picking up old projects they’d left by the wayside years ago - carpentry, electronics and music! They are finding out more about what they are capable of doing; they are problem solving for themselves and the rest of us.
Problems inspire us
When we’re going about our everyday lives, we spot problems and have regular complaints. This isn’t quite right, that is annoying, why can’t this be better, when will this finally get fixed? It’s not such a bad thing, actually: every time we have a complaint, we’ve actually spotted something that could be done better.
If you think about it and realise you can think of something to solve it, then you might just be on to the next big thing. As my mantra – Revolution in user thinking – suggests, I think that users of products and services are best placed to spot problems and fix them.
When someone wants to create something new it’s his or her job to obsess about the problem which needs solving so the rest of us don’t have to! The core problem which the RiutBag seeks to solve is that the conventional rucksack design isn’t fit for our changing urban lives. When the old rucksack is worn as intended, it allows the person behind you to access your belongings more easily than you can. In a world where 96% of us commute alone, and many of us travel and live surrounded by people we don't know, that design causes unnecessary worry.
Simplicity + balance
I wanted to find the simplest solution to this problem for the urban user – me and you. I’ve seen padlocks on zips, nets that cover your whole bag and are padlocked too, people wearing rucksacks on their front, wearing handbags under jackets or even trousers inside out so the pockets aren’t accessible!
I felt each of these gets the balance between security and access wrong. Other people can’t access your stuff easily, but then neither can you! It takes too long to unlock padlocks. The rucksack on your front isn’t a bad solution(!), but it gets in your way, encourages poor posture and isn’t comfortable for women with average or larger bra size – a real variable to consider if you're making a unisex RiutBag.
The RiutBag. I’ve revolved the rucksack around the user to mean when you’re wearing it, standing in queues, crushed up against fellow travellers on the bus or metro that there’s no easy way for anyone else to get in. You have to take your bag off your back to access it anyway so I felt this could be a reasonable way in. I revolved the body of the conventional rucksack to give us all peace of mind when we travel.
When I was in China a few weeks ago I took an early sample of the RiutBag with me everywhere. I was on my own, jetlagged and a little stressed (to say the least) whilst I was there, but something was different: I didn't once have to consider whether my zips were undone, whether my passport and wallet were safe or whether the person behind me seemed trustworthy. I focussed on what I was there to do, rather than keeping a watchful eye on my belongings. It was quite a different travelling experience - I can't wait to hear how it impacts your daily commute, weekend break or annual holiday, for example.
Bigger picture to consider
Our world continues to head for greater urbanisation on a global scale. That means more of the good and more of the bad of urbanisation is coming our way. Good: increased cultural exchange, higher economic activity, greater variety from which to choose; hopefully increased innovation and potential for change, if we view change as good. Bad: higher density living and related crime, population increase, greater gap between the rich and poor who cannot adapt, increased homelessness as a consequence.
RiutBag is here to help us adapt a little to increasing urbanisation by keeping us stress-free in our exciting, densely packed cities now and in the future. In the coming years, I want to keep focussing on the positive and negatives of urbanisation for us – real people – living in and around cities.
That’s my bigger picture. I come at those big problems from the perspective of the user. Things that help us individually but collectively have an impact too.
Wishing you a revolutionary 2015!
I’d love to hear from you when your RiutBag arrives to see what real users think! I'll work out a good system for you to give me feedback they way you want: it might be Skype sessions, meeting in person in groups, surveys to fill out online, or you could just throw your feedback onFacebook.com/riutbag or twitter.com/_riut
When you start using your RiutBag, my intention is that you free up some thinking time on your commute or travels, because you’re feeling calmer and less worried about your belongings. As a consequence you should have a little more time to get great stuff done: invent something new, finish that book, read more, listen to music without interruption, feel happier or just let you rest on your commute so you’re in better shape at work or at home.
Have a Revolution in user thinking in 2015, dear backers! Thanks for your enthusiasm, support and constructive criticism to help the RiutBag get this far.