Here is the preliminary proposal for me thesis topic. Let me know what you all think:
Skydivers are a unique group of people who are very passionate about the sport, and being part of this community is just as much about making new friends as it is about jumping out of a plane. Because of this I want to design my senior thesis based around this very sport that I grow to love more each day.
The skydiving industry is a very small and specialized market; therefore the equipment used requires very specific needs and functional ability. If there is one tangible thing skydivers value it is their equipment. Because skydivers place an enormous amount of importance and trust in their gear, my proposal is to identify a need or problem with the equipment and design a solution around it. Since there are many pieces of equipment used in skydiving I have plenty of opportunity to explore different areas of product interactions. Some examples are better helmets equipped for cameras, canopy locators during a cutaway and tools for packing a chute faster.
I have many resources in which to research from; my local drop zone, JumpTown located in Orange, Massachusetts, online forums, books, media and myself. Being a licensed skydiver I am able to be an integral part of the research as well as using the more experienced jumpers at the drop zone. Doing preliminary research through an online forum I discovered that other jumpers are very excited and willing to talk about innovative product idea developments and solutions within the sport.
This is a sport were problems can occur quite often, so the design impact of this project could be monumental. Any contribution I can do to fix a problem or identify a need would spark interest in the community and eliminate the disconnect between user and design. Some topics in this field include: general safety, photography, packing process, training, equipment maintenance, multi way formations, free-flying, etc. This project would allow me to give back to the skydiving community through design and be a branding opportunity for myself as well.