This week we begin to formulate ideas that are associated with our final focus (children as the primary user) based on the research we gathered from previous weeks. On Friday we are required to present low fidelity sketches and models to the class, in addition to questions that identify unknown issues that can only be verified by third party end users. The concepts based on design opportunities found in my research are outlined below.
Assistive devices that Adapt to Growth
Standardized/ recyclable frame
Simplified adjusting crutches
Adjusting hand petal position
Growth is an important consideration when designing for children with disabilities. In Uganda, when child receives a customized assistive device it may be extremely difficult to obtain a new one when they start to grow, especially in rural areas. These are some solutions I have come up with. First, is to create a crutch that utilizes local materials and labour that can be adjusted as the user grows. Typical donated crutches are easily breakable and the buttons are difficult to replicate by local labour. By creating a standard metal frame, the child’s guardians can replace the base with a wooden replacement once the child has outgrown the original. Also the sides of the wheelchair frame can also be standardized. When the child needs the width to increase the sides can be kept and the middle can be replaced. This solution is more cost efficient and easy to manufacture. The last idea is to allow the hand petal on the tricycle to be able to adjust to different positions. This not only allows the user to customize the petal to his/her size but it can also be moved further out of the way to allow the user to exit and enter the chair.
Existing Devices that Adapt to Growth
Typically, most crutches allow the user to adjust the size of the device of both the hand position and the overall height. Users adjust the size by pushing in a button that snaps to the desired hole. This is to not only to adjust to the height of the specific user but to change positions of the hand grip for use in different situations (standing from sitting, walking up stairs etc.)
Flex Leg is a company that designed a hands free adjustable crutch that not only is able to adjust to the size of the user but prevents underarm and hand cramps caused by traditional crutches.
Devices that Adapt to the Environment
Inflatable tires or covers that increase traction
Second chain for back wheels
Utilizing the hand petal as a lever for traveling uphill
A handgrip crank for a wheelchair
Hand Lifting Crutch
Research has shown that children in rural areas travel far in order to have the opportunity for an education. For children with disabilities this is even harder especially when the road conditions are unsuitable. The first idea for this concept is the inflatable tire. Are these more durable for the rough terrain? Perhaps the creation of some sort of outer cover will create more traction with the soil. Another idea is the second chain for the back wheels. By adding a second chain, the back tires will be more secure and travel more easily in harsh environmental conditions. But will this cause more weight? Will this require more strength? These questions are specifically important because of a child’s limited strength. An additional idea for this concept is turning the hand petal of the tricycle into a crank/lever that allows more force to be output when traveling uphill. The fourth idea consists of the creation of potential energy through winding the handgrip in a wheelchair. The user will turn the handgrip to a certain point when they become stuck or need to overcome an obstacle. They release the wheel, which propels the chair forward enough to overcome the barrier. The last idea consists of a crutch that contains a removable grip that allows the user to lift their leg with better control for bad road conditions. Are these solutions more effective than the original?
Existing Products that Adapt to the Environment
Amos Winter, graduate from MIT, designed a lever-powered mobility aid specifically for developing countries. The Leveraged Freedom Chair (LFC) is affordable, made locally from bike parts, and is easy to repair.
Intelliwheels are wheelchair wheels that contain gears that are attached at the hub of the wheelchair, which allows 2ibs of force out of the wheel from 1ibs of force into the hand rim (resulting in double the input).
Ralph Hotchkiss from San Francisco State University, founder of Whirlwind Wheelchair, designed RoughRider wheel chair, and how they designed it to tackle all the obstacles of bad road conditions, standardizing materials to be built in developing countries, and to cost under $200.
Devices that Enable Education
Attachable, portable table
Based on my research, there was a clear need for education devices and that the tricycle was not suitable for indoors use. My first concept is a allowing the front of the tricycle detach from the other end, therefore transforming it into a wheelchair. When the child wants to go inside, a third party assists them in detaching the front to allow the child to be able to use the chair. The other concept consists of just the chair being attached from the tricycle. A third party can lift the child and the chair from the tricycle and indoors. Both of these ideas allow a child to feel more included at school and in the home. There are some concerns with this design that cannot be solved without further research. The main questions are, is there a possibility the front being stolen? Is this structurally strong (is this new structure weaker?) and will the third party diminish the value of empowerment, and will they always be available to help?
Devices that contribute to family
Planter walking stick
Washer attachment to tricycle
Child case studies from the journal by ACPF, indicate that children feel more empowered when contributing to their family through small tasks and chores. My first idea for this concept is a modified walking cane for children suffering from blindness. The child can put the seeds through the top of the cane, and as they walk through the soil they use the pointed bottom end to make a hole in the soil. The force that is applied in making the hole pushes the base upwards releasing two or three seeds. Another idea for this concept is the creation of a washer attachment to the back of the tricycle. Through research, I read that soybeans when cleaning can be dusty and hurt both the eyes and throat. By allowing a washer to be placed on the back of a tricycle, the parents can pour the machines into the device and the child can clean the beans by powering the device through pedaling. This also allows the dust to travel backwards, which does not cause harmful effects. This idea can also be expanded to a washer to clean clothes. Are these devices creating a large enough benefit or are they not worth making? Are these ideas feasible with local materials and labour? Are these tasks easy enough for a child to do?
Next Weeks Goals:
Choose a specific concept and research
Email Maali Wilson with more questions based on my choice
Produce prototypes to assist in the ideation process
Review ethics form, clarify sections with TA or professor if not clear