How can we empower consumers to choose repair over replacement, integrating sustainability into everyday decisions through a community-driven, technology-enabled platform?

Introduction:
The “Velocity Repair” project is a reflection of a two-semester thesis journey at OCAD University, spanning from September to April under the guidance of Professors Job Rutgers and Ranee Lee.
This portfolio page will walk you through the project’s evolution, starting with the initial research and proposal phase, leading into detailed research and data synthesis, progressing through early prototyping and user testing phases, and culminating in the final high-fidelity prototype of the app.
This project aimed to challenge the throwaway culture by providing a platform that encourages and facilitates repair over replacement by connecting consumers to local repair experts in their community.
Video Story:
This video showcases a practical demonstration of the “Velocity Repair” app in action, emphasizing its real-world applicability and value. It narrates the story of a user whose blender breaks just as he’s rushing for work. Faced with the high cost of replacement, he opts for a sustainable alternative through the app. The video illustrates the entire process from selecting a local repair expert on the app to receiving the repaired blender, delivered swiftly by a bicycle courier. This scenario not only highlights the convenience and efficiency of the service but also underscores its environmental benefits by avoiding unnecessary waste and reducing carbon emissions associated with new product manufacturing and delivery. The video serves as a compelling visualization of how “Velocity Repair” fosters a community-driven, eco-friendly approach to consumer product longevity.
Basic App Walk-through
This video provides a comprehensive walk-through of the “Velocity Repair” app, starting with the user-friendly signup process. It demonstrates the app’s intuitive navigation and details each step involved in creating a repair order. Viewers will see firsthand how to search for and select the appropriate repair expert based on ratings and proximity, how to interact with the repair expert via live chat, and how to finalize and track their repair order. This demonstration underscores the app’s commitment to simplicity and efficiency, making it easy for users to bring new life to their damaged items.
Raised in a family where collaboration and resourcefulness were daily practices, I learned early on that when we come together, channeling our diverse skills, we can accomplish nearly anything. In our home, the instinct was always to repair rather than replace, embedding in me a deep appreciation for the value of each item and the hands-on effort to extend its life.
Yet, as I grew older, I noticed a stark contrast in the broader society. Our consumer culture predominantly opts for replacement over repair when faced with broken or damaged items. Noticing this behavioural shift in society motivated me to design this project.
This prevalent “throwaway” mentality not only exacerbates environmental waste and burdens landfills but also significantly increases our carbon footprint due to the continuous cycle of manufacturing new products.
Despite a growing inclination among consumers to repair and sustain their belongings, the reality remains that the required skills and resources are often inaccessible to the average person. The expertise to design and manufacture replacement parts, or the infrastructure to recycle effectively, is not sufficiently developed to meet the need.
This scenario poses a critical question: With increasing awareness and a collective desire to pivot from disposability towards sustainability, how can we bridge the gap between consumer intention and practical, accessible solutions for repair? This challenge underpins my project, which seeks to harness technology and community spirit to empower consumers to take action, reflecting the lessons of unity and resourcefulness I cherished in my family upbringing.

Research and Data Synthesis

Consumer Insights: Understanding Preferences for Repair Services
In an effort to understand consumer attitudes towards repair services, a survey was conducted, gathering insights from over 120 participants. This research aimed to delve into the key factors that influence consumers’ decisions to repair rather than replace broken items. The survey explored various aspects such as price willingness, convenience preferences, and overall motivations for choosing repair services over purchasing new products.
Key findings include:
  • A majority of consumers (61.5%) cited cost as the primary factor when considering repairs, indicating that affordability is crucial in the decision-making process.
  • Convenience also plays a significant role, with 38.5% of participants emphasizing the importance of quick and accessible repair services.
  • The survey revealed a readiness among consumers to invest in repair services, with 38% of those surveyed showing willingness to pay between $20 to $50, highlighting the perceived value of maintaining rather than discarding items.
The three biggest insights gleaned from this research are:
  • Cost and Efficiency: Consumers prioritize affordable and quick repair services, indicating a demand for cost-effective solutions that do not compromise on time.
  • Availability and Convenience: The importance of easy scheduling and accessible service points to the necessity for “Velocity Repair” to integrate flexibility and ease of use within its service offerings.
  • Willingness to Pay for Quality Repairs: Consumers are clearly willing to pay a premium for repairs, especially for items that hold significant value or sentiment, highlighting an opportunity for high-quality, reliable repair services.
These insights highlight the urgent need for affordable and efficient repair solutions and also show that consumers view the scarcity of time as a major obstacle when deciding between repairing and replacing items.
Formulating the framework delineated the foundational strategy underpinning the “Velocity Repair” service, constructed from vital insights unearthed through extensive consumer research. This framework is crafted to ensure that every facet of the service resonates with the consumer’s needs and market demand, focusing on three core components: convenience, affordability, and community engagement.
  • Must: Convenience – Central to the service design is the principle of convenience. The framework prioritizes a seamless and expedient process for users, from the moment they recognize a broken item to its final repair. This directly addresses consumer preferences for quick and hassle-free services, ensuring that “Velocity Repair” simplifies the repair process and reduces turnaround times, thereby enhancing user satisfaction and retention.
  • Should: Affordability – Affordability is positioned as a critical strategic element. By keeping repair costs competitive, “Velocity Repair” aims to shift consumer behavior from replacing to repairing. This not only fosters a sustainable approach by reducing waste but also aligns with the financial expectations of consumers who prioritize cost-effectiveness in their repair decisions.
  • Could: Community Engagement – The framework includes fostering a robust community around sustainable practices. By engaging users, makers, and repair experts in a shared platform, “Velocity Repair” seeks to cultivate a sense of community and collective responsibility. This engagement is envisioned to not only enhance the service experience but also to champion the broader values of sustainability and collective action within the consumer sphere.
 
Identifying Key Players in the Repair Ecosystem
The stakeholder map is a crucial tool used in this project to visualize and analyze the relationships between various entities involved in the repair service ecosystem. This comprehensive map includes consumers, repair experts, material suppliers, logistic partners, and community organizations, among others.
Key insights from the stakeholder map:
  • Consumers (End-Users): At the heart of the map, consumers drive demand for convenient and sustainable repair solutions.
  • 3D Printing Experts (Service Providers): Essential for the actual repair process, their skills and availability dictate the feasibility and quality of repairs.
  • Local Businesses and Repair Shops: They play a critical role in fostering local economies and can partner to provide drop-off points or supplemental services.
  • Gig Economy Workers: Represented as the logistic backbone, they ensure the efficient pick-up and delivery of items needing repair.
  • Manufacturers of Appliances and Goods: While they are indirect stakeholders, their designs and materials influence the reparability of products.
By understanding the dynamics between these stakeholders, “Velocity Repair” can tailor its features to better meet the needs of the community, enhance service delivery, and promote a circular economy.
 
This market analysis presents a compelling comparative evaluation between existing repair and retail services and the proposed “Velocity Repair” service. It outlines key metrics crucial to customer satisfaction and environmental sustainability, highlighting where current solutions are falling short. The grid effectively demonstrates that, unlike competitors such as Amazon and local repair shops, “Velocity Repair” aims to excel in affordability, convenience, sustainable practices, and speed, while also emphasizing a strong connection with repair experts and adopting circular methods to extend product life cycles.
This analysis underscores the urgent need for innovative repair solutions that are both user-friendly and environmentally conscious. It points out the inefficiency and inaccessibility of current repair options, the lost opportunities for engaging local skilled labor, and the critical environmental implications of a disposable culture. By contrasting the envisioned service with existing ones, the slide argues for a transformative approach to repair and reuse, which is central to “Velocity Repair’s” mission. The service is positioned as a game-changer, designed to meet the pressing demands of conscious consumers and to foster a community around sustainable living.
 
 

The “Product Journey Through Amazon” graphic illustrates the environmental impact of consumer goods purchased via Amazon, comparing domestic and international shipping routes. The graphic traces the carbon footprint from the point of order to the product’s arrival at the customer’s doorstep.

For domestic purchases, the journey is plotted from the order processing through item retrieval, packaging, distribution, and local delivery, culminating in a notable carbon output measured in kilograms of CO2. This visual breakdown exposes the environmental cost of domestic shipping, emphasizing the need for greener logistics solutions.

The international purchase scenario delineates a more complex and carbon-intensive route. The product’s journey begins overseas, incurring a significant CO2 emission during international transit before it even reaches the destination country. Subsequent stages—arrival, domestic distribution, and local delivery—further contribute to the carbon footprint, dramatically illustrated by the total emissions figure.

By quantifying the carbon emissions at each step, this graphic confronts the audience with the stark reality of the ecological toll of online shopping, particularly from global e-commerce platforms like Amazon. It underscores the urgency for innovative solutions that can mitigate environmental damage while meeting consumer demands, setting the stage for the necessity of services like “Velocity Repair,” which promise a more sustainable and localized approach to product longevity.

This product journey map contrasts the traditional retail purchase journey with the sustainable, community-focused model proposed by Velocity Repair. It begins with a user’s item breaking and follows the streamlined process of repair and return, facilitated entirely within the local community.
The journey is succinct and local, eliminating the need for extensive carbon emissions associated with traditional product delivery services like Amazon’s. Users upload a repair request and connect with a local repair expert. A repair order is then created, and the item is picked up and delivered to the repair expert by a courier – in this case, leveraging the efficient and eco-friendly Uber courier service. After the item is repaired, it is delivered back to the user, completing the cycle.
The innovative approach adopted reduces the carbon footprint by cutting out long-haul transportation and fosters a sense of community by connecting users with local experts. Utilizing Uber’s diverse delivery options, including on-foot, bicycle, and rideshare, ensures that delivery-related carbon emissions are minimized, aligning with the service’s core value of environmental responsibility. This product journey map highlights the transformative potential of Velocity Repair, showcasing a sustainable alternative that rethinks the lifecycle of consumer goods.
In order to determine the economic viability of this service, a methodical approach was taken by researching current market rates for 3D printing services and the associated costs. To determine a realistic cost structure, I explored the price of raw materials, with the focus on the filament used in 3D printing. The cost analysis incorporated the widely adopted Prusa i3 MK3S printer, a reliable model in the 3D printing community, due to its precision and affordability. This enabled a baseline to be established for material costs based on the price per gram of PLA filament. Further, the calculation factored in the average time a Prusa i3 MK3S would take to print a standard item, which, after considering various sources, was estimated to be between 2 to 3 hours. Along with that, the calculation included the cost of manpower required to operate the printer and supervise the printing process, derived from average hourly rates in the industry. Printer operation costs were also considered, accounting for the electricity and maintenance expenses associated with running the model specified. By combining these elements—material, manpower, and operational costs— a comprehensive cost estimate was achieved.
These images illustrate the economic viability and consumer savings potential inherent in the Velocity Repair model. Each example product showcases a side-by-side financial comparison between conventional replacement via Amazon and cost-effective repair through Velocity Repair. The analysis meticulously breaks down material, manpower, and operational costs, alongside service and delivery fees, concluding with the total cost to the consumer. These cost comparisons underscore the affordability of the repair service. Ultimately, these examples concretely demonstrate that Velocity Repair offers a financially attractive and viable option for consumers
The Business Model Canvas presented for Velocity Repair provides a strategic blueprint of the service’s business operations. It outlines the core aspects of the platform’s business strategy, identifying key partners such as local 3D printing experts, environmental organizations, and sustainability-focused businesses.
Key activities are centered on building a service network, engaging the community, and continuous platform improvement. This is underpinned by robust technology and skilled local partnerships. Value propositions highlight sustainable, affordable repair solutions reducing environmental impact. The platform prioritizes trust and community-building, fostering strong customer relationships.
Revenue streams are diversified, including transaction fees, subscription models for premium features, and potential partnerships and sponsorships. This model also factors in costs associated with development, marketing, and operational overheads.
Customer segments target eco-conscious consumers and 3D printing enthusiasts, among others, leveraging an online platform and social media for outreach. This comprehensive canvas is crucial for understanding the financial and operational viability of Velocity Repair, ensuring that all aspects of the business align with its mission to create a sustainable, community-driven repair economy.
 
 
 
 
The Service Design Blueprint for Velocity Repair delineates the intricate journey of a repair, from the customer’s initial engagement to the final delivery of the repaired item. This blueprint is pivotal in visualizing the interaction between the customer, service interface, and the physical execution of the repair service.
Starting with the physical evidence of a broken item, it leads the customer through a series of actions: from searching and discovering the app, to scanning the item, selecting a repair expert, and finally handing off the item for repair. Frontstage actions include notifications and item collection, highlighting touchpoints visible to the customer. Backstage actions, which customers don’t see, such as order reception and item repair, ensure the smooth operation of the service.
Support processes like app maintenance and customer support form the backbone of the user experience, maintaining the functionality and responsiveness of the service. This blueprint serves as a crucial analytical tool that helps refine the service’s operations, ensuring each step is optimized for efficiency and user satisfaction. It’s instrumental in the business’s strategy, focusing on a clear, user-centered service pathway that underpins the project’s commitment to streamlined, customer-focused repair solutions.
The Risk Assessment Framework is an integral part of the Velocity Repair project’s strategic planning. It identifies potential risks in the service delivery process and outlines appropriate mitigation strategies to address them. The framework scrutinizes aspects such as logistical efficiency, ensuring that the routing and timing for pickups and deliveries are streamlined for quick service, and highlights the importance of security to protect items during transit.
Additionally, the framework emphasizes reliability, recognizing the need for the repair to be of high quality to satisfy customers. Intellectual property rights are also considered, with a strategy to leverage open-source item databases to circumvent issues for 3D-printed parts of branded objects.
For each identified risk, there are corresponding services leveraged and reasoning behind choosing them. For instance, utilizing Uber’s routing system and delivery options enhances efficiency and security. A real-time communication feature within the app facilitates better customer experience by allowing detailed conversations about repair expectations.
This comprehensive risk assessment is crucial in building a robust business model that anticipates challenges and plans for contingencies, ensuring the reliability and credibility of the Velocity Repair service in the market. It showcases a proactive approach to managing the inherent uncertainties of operating a repair service platform, aligning with the project’s dedication to customer satisfaction, security, and sustainable practices.
The Open-Source Part Databases component of the Velocity Repair project taps into the rich repository of 3D printing designs available on platforms like Thingiverse. These databases are crucial for Velocity Repair’s operations, providing a broad array of community-vetted repair solutions and facilitating user interaction. Reviews and visual examples of printed parts assist in assessing their quality and fit, streamlining the repair process.
The transparency of designer profiles and user feedback on Thingiverse brings a layer of trust and reliability to the platform, crucial for ensuring the selection of high-quality, tested designs. Furthermore, the Creative Commons – Attribution license on Thingiverse bolsters Velocity Repair’s legal framework by allowing the use and modification of designs for both private and commercial purposes.
Integrating these databases into Velocity Repair’s ecosystem advances the project’s commitment to sustainable practices by fostering an adaptable and legal supply of parts. It mitigates the risks associated with intellectual property issues in 3D printing, ensuring that Velocity Repair operates within legal boundaries while encouraging innovation and community collaboration. This approach not only aligns with sustainability goals but also places a strong emphasis on quality and consumer trust, key pillars for the service’s market success.
 
 
 
 
 

User Testing Phase

The storyboard depicted here illustrates “Concept 1: The Local Hero,” which is one of the three concepts developed during the storyboarding phase of the project. The narrative follows Jeff, a user whose headphones are broken and goes through the process of repairing them using a local repair service. The storyboard details Jeff’s journey from discovering the damage to the final repair, highlighting the app’s capability to scan the item, connect with a repair expert, and facilitate the repair using a secure drop box location.
Throughout this visualization, the focus was to pinpoint any pain points and gauge opportunities for enhancement within the service’s framework. Pain points such as the potential inconvenience of drop box locations and the user’s requirement to scan their item are identified, prompting further exploration into more user-friendly solutions.
While this concept underscored the value of localized repair services and demonstrated the potential for a hands-on approach to product longevity, it was ultimately Concept 3 that was selected for final development. Concept 3 was chosen because it more effectively addressed user convenience and streamlined the repair process, which are key considerations for the service’s success. This decision was driven by insights gained through user research and the desire to optimize the repair experience for ease and accessibility.
The “Chosen Concept” slide offers a clear comparative analysis of three distinct concepts evaluated against key service metrics. It serves as a critical junction in the design process where the metrics of user convenience, service accessibility, cost-effectiveness, sustainability impact, and repair satisfaction are used as benchmarks to determine the most promising concept.
Through the storytelling and visualization process of storyboarding, it became apparent that Concept 3 best met and had the potential to exceed these critical metrics. The decision to move forward with this concept was driven by its strong alignment with the project’s core values, such as enhancing user convenience, ensuring service accessibility, maintaining cost-effectiveness, contributing to sustainability, and delivering satisfactory repair outcomes.
The choice of Concept 3 was a strategic move towards creating a service platform that emphasizes environmental responsibility and promotes community engagement. This concept was the most capable of offering a practical and appealing solution to users, which is crucial for its adoption and success. It marks a pivotal step towards developing ‘Velocity Repair’ into a service that fosters a sustainable, repair-oriented consumer culture.
This workflow visualization was created to further refine concept 3. This allowed me to visualize, step by step, how the user would interact with the app from the moment they start a repair order to getting their product fixed. This step was crucial as it laid the ground-work for the interactions within the first minimum viable product/prototype.
After creating the workflow visualization, a rough prototype was create in the form of hand-sketched wireframes. This was done to begin the preliminary version of the app that would host and provide the Velocity Repair service. Creating this wireframe was crucial in the design process as it allowed me to create a minimum viable product that could be tested amongst my peers. This user testing is crucial as it can point out any overlooked pain points as well as identify areas that could be further improved upon and explored.
During this phase, several key concerns and suggestions emerged, shaping the future direction of the application. Notably, the emphasis on accessibility was clear; users advocated for features that support the visually impaired, such as text-to-speech capabilities and the use of larger, contrasting buttons. Ensuring that the app is inclusive and accessible to all potential users was identified as a priority.
Moreover, establishing user trust in the digital environment was a significant focus. Users expressed a keen interest in the verification processes for the credibility and proficiency of listed repair experts. This necessitated the design of a transparent and robust vetting process to foster user confidence in the platform.
Feedback also revealed a desire for a more personalized repair experience. Users were interested in being able to annotate or describe their product images within the app to communicate specific repair needs. Implementing annotation features or a menu to detail common issues was proposed to enhance the clarity of communication between users and repair experts.

Final Prototyping Phase

The prototype started with an initial logo concept, providing a glimpse into the brand identity that would later be honed to more accurately reflect the ethos of Velocity Repair. The process of refining the logo was documented in detail, capturing the iterative nature of creating a strong visual identity.
Leveraging Figma for its design capabilities, the early user interface (UI) borrowed the ease and familiarity of popular applications, such as Uber. The aim was to create an intuitive layout that embedded critical functions seamlessly. The preliminary design featured a home page with a user-friendly toolbar, guiding users to key sections such as ‘My Repairs’, ‘Community’, and ‘Help’.
Despite these positive steps forward, it was apparent that there was room for growth. The initial UI presented challenges with its complexity and lack of consistency, underscoring the importance of refining the experience to be more cohesive and straightforward for the user.
Continual iterations were dedicated to aligning the visual aspects of the app with the core principles of Velocity Repair. This included selecting a distinctive color palette that mirrored the brand’s values, designing clear and meaningful icons to ensure visual clarity, and choosing a typeface that would not only solidify the brand’s identity but also promote easy recognition and readability for users.
The “Velocity Repair’s Branding Guide” section of my portfolio illustrates the meticulous crafting of the app’s visual identity. This guide is an exploration into the app’s visual DNA, outlining the foundational elements that ensure a cohesive and attractive user interface.
A critical component of this visual identity is the spacing grid. The grid ensures consistent layout and spacing throughout the app, providing a seamless navigation experience. It’s a behind-the-scenes framework that promotes visual harmony and helps users intuitively interact with the app’s features.
Drawing directly from the logo’s color scheme, the branding guide introduces a color palette that blends professional and sleek hues. The spectrum of blues suggests reliability and professionalism, while greys, whites, and blacks bring balance and contrast, creating a visually appealing and immediately recognizable interface. These colors are not just for aesthetics; they are a core part of the app’s identity, enhancing brand recognition and offering a unified visual experience to the users.
Key icons within the app are showcased for their intuitive design and functionality, selected to streamline and simplify the user journey. These icons are not just visually integrated with the overall design but are also instrumental in facilitating user interaction and enhancing the efficiency of navigating through the app.
From initial sketches to a polished and sophisticated digital solution, this prototype embodies the essence of user-centered design and functionality.
The final prototype represents a deep commitment to intuitive design, evidenced by the evolution from conceptual sketches to a refined, user-focused application. It is not just a product but a testament to the relentless pursuit of a seamless user experience.
Highlighted within these closing slides are the app’s refined iterations, each showcasing the integration of key features that prioritize the user’s ease and efficiency. At the heart of this design is the app’s robust database search function, crafted to allow users to quickly and accurately identify the exact parts needed for their repairs. This feature addresses a common pain point—tedious searches—and turns it into a streamlined and satisfying experience.
The user interface of the app is designed with clarity in mind, employing clean lines and intuitive navigation to foster user confidence. The support system is further enhanced by real-time communication channels, connecting users directly with repair experts. This functionality not only builds a foundation of trust but also ensures that user specifications are met with unwavering precision.