Throughout our research, we spoke with focus groups at a senior living community and discovered that posture is a huge area not being addressed in design. Being hunched over you become less aware of your environment and over time, a feeling of disconnection from society can lead to sadness and depression. We were inspired by the simple fact that making eye contact and observing the world around you gives you the confidence you thought you lost.
UNIQUE PROPERTIES / PROJECT DESCRIPTION:
Uppo was designed to help people go out in public and feel confident. We wanted to focus on posture and how we can change the current solution while proposing a new problem: How do we develop a mobility device that maintains the sense of security without compromising posture in order to enable the aging population to maneuver independently and safely? Uppo's unique features such as collapsibility, light structure, and non-medical appearance help set this walker apart from others.
OPERATION / FLOW / INTERACTION:
Easier transportation promotes a simplified transition from place to place. The arms of the walker are easily collapsible and the legs fold inward to take up less space. The frame has been pared down for a lightweight, less medical-looking structure that has softer carrying touch points. The touch points include the front upper cross bar, the curved front sides where the user can carry the walker up stairs, and smaller collapsible side cross bars to fold the legs together without overlap. The upper components of the walker are customizable and fits the user perfectly for optimized posture correction.
PROJECT DURATION AND LOCATION:
The project started in September 2016 at Virginia Tech and finished in December 2016.
PRODUCTION / REALIZATION TECHNOLOGY:
We made our final prototype using steel tubing, steel rod, and bar stock for major structural components. We bent, welded, ground, milled, and turned these materials to create a functional model. Then we used bondo to achieve ideal aesthetic joint conditions. We also used urethane foam to make our arm supports. Our final product that would be made in large scale production would use aluminum tubing instead of steel to decrease the weight, and we would use polypropylene for the arm supports.
SPECIFICATIONS / TECHNICAL PROPERTIES:
Width 571.5mm x Depth 533.4mm x Height 1244.6mm-1346.2mm
Posture, Walker, Ergonomic, Aging in Place, Mobility
During our research, we observed and took detailed notes of what we saw. After a couple sessions, we filtered the necessary information to create the ideal user. At a senior living community we interviewed focus groups to find the wishes, barriers and the ideal experience of using a mobility device. Asking questions to a focus group allows for detailed answers and key insight findings of what users need and want. We also sketched and made full scale models using the research information we gathered.
At the beginning of our project we researched and found a large scope of design opportunities. This made it difficult to choose a design actionable problem to work on. The creative challenge for improving posture was "What does improving posture look like in a mobility device?" Historically and socially senior adults try to avoid using walkers because they feel vulnerable and are unable to contribute to society. Also, going back and forth from sketches and physical prototyping led us to realizing the interaction of the user, the environment and the product.
TEAM MEMBERS (6) :
Charlene Lertlumprasert, Emma Lee, Genesis Solano, Gerrold Walker III, Lane Hering and
Virginia Tech 3rd Year ID Team Uppo, 2016.