Last week it was more of a focus to understand the overview of the country of Uganda and the theory behind designing for developing countries. This week I decided to narrow down my research even further in order to find design opportunities. I also tried to engage in more primary research.
Learning about Existing Products and their Manufacture
From Bjarki’s presentation last week, I decided to look at the Whirlwind wheel chair website. I read about their 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. I watched this PBS special about Ralph Hotchkiss from San Francisco State University (the designer of this wheelchair). I also tried to send him an email, requesting any information he can give to help with our project, and/or to have a Skype interview with our group. Unfortunately he has not responded yet. One of the videos I watched is posted below and a series of videos is posted on the Whirlwind Wheelchair website.
Another valuable source of information was a feasibility study of wheelchairs and tricycles in Uganda. This study was conducted partially by the Whirlwind Wheelchair International Project. The study was for identifying needs for devices, how and if they could be manufactured in the country to sustain local businesses, the quality of these products and how many were present in the specific country of Uganda. The report was very useful and provided many facts about some of the products people use in Uganda. One of the most interesting things I learned from this study is the lack of standardized sizes and how most children use adult sized mobility devices. When children did receive customized products their lifecycle was short due to the continuous growth of the child. The image below is just an example of how harmful these products can be and present a large opportunity for the focus of this project.
Another thing I found interesting is how even though the tricycles are used for traveling longer distances than the wheelchairs; they are still limited in how far they can travel. Those who have to travel these distances are divided between getting a low quality, easy breakable wheel chair so that can fold so that they can take public transportation or a tricycle that can withstand the rural environment but not indoor use.
Arising Design Opportunities
Designing a fitted wheelchair or mobility vehicle for disabled children
Creating a measuring apparatus to allow the manufacturer to be able to build customized seats
A standard product that adjusts to the size of the user
A low gear system for uphill travel
A mobile device that combines durability and accessibility
A mobile device that includes the transportation capabilities of a tricycle
Next Week’s Goals
Since this week I was focusing the topics of my research, next week I am going to focus my research even further, more specifically on the opportunities addressed in this week’s research, and hopefully narrowing down to just one focus for the creation of my scenario board. Additionally, I am going to try conducting more primary research. Not only do I look forward to the Skype interview that is scheduled on Monday, but also I am going to try contacting more people that were stated in the report mentioned above.
Here are the resources I looked at this week that look specifically at the existing projects and manufacturing processes:
Oderud, T., SINTEF, , Brodtkorb, S., NAD, , Hotchkiss, R., & WWI, (2004). Feasibility Study on Production and Provision of Wheelchairs and Tricycles in Uganda. SINTEF Report.