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Future of the Industrial Workspace

Research Assistant

Jan 2020 - April 2020

Four months

Design brief


This project was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to explore the  –"Future of Industrial workspace" under the supervision of Prof. Kristian Klockl of Northeastern University, Boston, MA.


It is a speculative design exercise where we explored the history and landscape of the seafood industry, worker conditions, and experiences in the industry. In addition, we scanned the current state of affairs in the seafood industry through secondary research and site visits to two mid-sized, seafood manufacturers, in New England. The goal was to visualize how fishing industry can adapt technological advances to improve efficiency without compromising the worker's well-being. 


This involved visits to local seafood industries in New England and Northeastern University's Ocean Genomic Legacy Center at Nahant, MA. In addition, we gather expert opinions from Prof. Daniel L. Distel (on Genome Data Processing) and Prof. Taskin Padir from the Robotics lab (on Robotics and Automation) in fish processing.

The team for this project comprised of Patrick Dawson, Bianca Rabbi, Abby Fuller from the Architecture school and me. My responsibilities included assisting in the research and visualizing future scenarios in the speculative design process.

Here are some snapshots from our field visits to Seafood processing plants in the New England area – 

200424 Factory Visualization [Recovered]

(L) Filleting and storing fishes (R) Prepping semi-cooked meals for packaging

(L) Snapshot of the cleaning, sorting and freezing assembly for squids. (R) Safety and hygiene prepping area for staff and visitors. 

Factory of the future

Here's a block diagram of how we imagine the future of a "Seafood Industry." While some repetitive and hazardous processes (like lifting, cutting, sorting, cleaning) can be fully automated, certain processes like innovative food recipes or tasks that require common sense and human problem-solving and quality control will still have human intervention.


We also propose that the entire process will be driven by real-time data that optimizes the supply chain and creates a feedback loop with the end consumer. Factories can be smart such that they adapt to changing needs due to customer preferences, seasons, and festivals. This provides a birds-eye view of system design.

200424 Factory Visualization [Recovered]

Factory of the future visualization. Illustration credit: Abby Fuller, Patrick Dawson 


In addition to the factory space and the supply chain, we zoomed into different "possible futures" for the industrial workspaces. Below I have illustrated a detailed snapshot of each of these scenarios.

200424 Factory Visualization [Recovered]

Real-time operations monitoring


Robotics to assist in repetitive tasks that cause fatigue and injury to workers.

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Digital systems that can track the food source.


Humans helping create innovate recipes based on user insights.


Exoskeletons help workers in processes that cause muscle and bone fatigue


Mixed reality interfaces that allow supervisors to see real-time information of the batch processing/packaging 


Design responsibilities:

Design research, Visual representations

Tools/methods used:

Field visits, In-person Interviews, Adobe illustrator

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