In his final year at Western in 2018, Industrial Design student Scotty Paton received the prompt from Professor Del King for his capstone project: “Act like an entrepreneur and design something that matters.”
This led Paton to push himself towards creating a project with substantial value, moving past the allure of simply adding flashy gadgets within an empty aesthetic. Paton created a design called “SixthSense” that aimed to protect riders and save lives by implementing AI and safety technologies onto motorcycles. His hard work paid off, as the design won him multiple accolades and was featured on the cover of “INNOVATION” magazine, a major publication in the design industry.
SixthSense was an outlet for Paton’s long-standing interest in motorcycling and emerging technologies, allowing him the freedom to invent within an area he was truly passionate about. The design embedded three primary safety technologies: forward hazard recognition, blind spot detection and conspicuity lighting. Paton adopted these features to give riders a “second set of eyes," helping them detect and avoid the most common and dangerous scenarios riders face on the road.
“I think the most important part of this project was drilling down into a serious problem and validating a solution,” Paton said. Paton’s initial design concepts were focused around instrument clusters, phone attachments and hand control variants. The problem was that these solutions weren’t targeting a big enough issue. “If it weren’t for Del King repeatedly pointing this out about my initial ideas, the project could have ended up without a real purpose,” Paton said.
Throughout his design process, Paton faced many other challenges such as running object recognition softwares, designing for direct fit onto a motorcycle, and building a realistic appearance model. Paton’s dedication to the project paid off as he became the Student Merit Award Winner of the Industrial Designers Society of America Northwest Chapter and finalist for the West District, which ultimately led to his project being featured on the cover of “INNOVATION”.
“It was a huge honor to be featured in the magazine alongside some highly talented design students,” Paton said.
But for those who were involved with the project and the department that watched it develop, the project is an impressive example of what students can accomplish. “This recognizes Scotty as one of the best ID graduates in the nation, and puts Western in front of thousands of industry leaders in design,” said Jason Morris, Director of Western’s Industrial Design program. Morris now shows Paton’s work to developing students to inspire them to push themselves. “Paton’s success not only shows his ability but also exemplifies the strength of the Industrial Design program as a whole,” Morris said.
Paton’s design was part of his ID Capstone project, which allows students to target a subject that is personally motivating for each individual. For Paton this meant he could create a design related to his passion for motorcycling and technology, for other students it would be something different.
After graduating last spring, Paton spent a few months traveling and was hired as an Industrial Designer at Fresh Consulting, an end-to-end design and engineering consultancy based in the Seattle area. He was the first of three ID professionals hired at the company that now has around 200 employees. So far Fresh has been everything Paton hoped for in an employer - the focus on innovation and emerging technologies, diverse culture of professionals from different disciplines, and design-led approach will keep him there for the foreseeable future.
“My next big dreams have to do with dogs, travel and adventures,” Paton said.