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Raynaud's Disease - hand & foot-warmers

Postby Robbie_roy » October 25th, 2012, 8:27 pm

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Hello all,

I am starting a project that aims to help those with Raynaud’s Disease and am having trouble deciding on a target market. I have gotten some great advice from my classmates and teacher in critique, but would love to hear the opinion of other designers. Here is some background on Raynaud’s if you are not familiar or please skip past the image for where I am most confused.

- Cause > body reduces circulation in the extremities in the cold > blanching (whitening) of fingers/toes and numbness. A small (5%) percentage of Raynaud’s is caused by stress, where the body also reduces circulation.
- Severity: (mild) can affect just the tip of a single finger to (moderate) reduced blood flow in more fingers and toes to (severe) risk of frostbite and gangrene after prolonged numbness.
- Setting doesn’t have to be excessively cold. Many experience Raynaud’s attacks at work, in class, or at the grocery store, for example.
- 15% of women between 15 and 40 in colder climates are the most common to have Raynaud's Disease, while about 3-5% of the world population has it.

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There are a good amount of products out there that help people with cold hands and cold feet, but they have their drawbacks. Also, as far as I can tell, there are no products focused on helping Raynaud's in particular (medication and rarely surgery, rather than physical devices).

The general trend that I’m seeing is that most products are focused on keeping one's hands warm in the cold (does that qualify as a 'duh' statement!) and naturally decrease the amount of things you can do with your hands. Hand coverings like gloves and mittens interfere mostly with finger use, while dedicated hand-warmers need to be held directly, so you cannot do much with that hand (imagine typing, driving, or walking the dog, while carrying an iPod-sized thing in your hand). Feet warmers are less common but are not as critical in the dexterity sense -- one can layer socks and use warmers in the foot because toe use is not an issue like finger use. ;)

I see more of a need and opportunity for something that keeps one's hands warm indoors, because there is simply more that one would need hand/finger dexterity for indoors, and sufferers of Raynaud's often do have cold fingers indoors. Or rather, you probably don't need to use your fingers too often outdoors in the dead of winter, so there is not too much to improve with the outdoor hands/foot market.

I was planning to target this product line towards the most common victims of Raynaud's -- women age 15-40 (probably narrowed down within that) and who have mild to moderate symptoms. Since this is targeting the medical condition itself, I was hoping to propose that it be sold as a medical device line (think higher-end hearing aids / diabetes tester), rather than the lower end hand-warmers now are sold at sports stores, Wal-mart, and online. Ideally, it would not be expensive, but I think that something that allows dexterity and non-obtrusiveness while still being effective at heating would cost more than current warmers.

In the initial feedback that I got in class, most people thought it would be better to target an "extreme" user group like sports users -- such as snowboarding and skiing, and that from there, more general consumers would follow. However, I really do see more of an opportunity for a line of indoor solutions for young/middle age women because of the dexterity + warm need, and I have a hard time imaging that anything for outdoor sports wouldn't just be redesigning a glove ...

I would really appreciate any advice that you might have, no matter how brief! This is a longer term project, finishing in December, and I am in the earlier stages now -- surveys, interviews, research, and early ideation/model-making, and please let me know if it would be helpful to see more as it progresses.

Thank you for any help!
Robbie
EXISTING_PRODUCTS_INFO2.jpg

EXISTING_PRODUCTS_AXES1a.jpg


Thanks to the Noun Project (thenounproject.com) for some icon help:

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Hand designed by Naomi Atkinsonfrom The Noun Proje

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Clock designed by Dmitry Baranovskiy from The Noun Project

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Cloud designed by Adam Whitcroft from The Noun Project

Re: Raynaud's Disease - hand & foot-warmers

Postby pier » October 26th, 2012, 2:40 pm


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Robbie_roy wrote:Hello all,

I am starting a project that aims to help those with Raynaud’s Disease and am having trouble deciding on a target market. .....

....
- 15% of women between 15 and 40 in colder climates are the most common to have Raynaud's Disease, while about 3-5% of the world population has it.


Short, sharp, to the point: problem described, target market identified. You sound more confidence lacking or perhaps second-guessing previous advice received.

My only critique is that women age 15 - 40 represent quite different positions in life, activities, lifestyle, body changes even. Perhaps break down this range somehow?

It sounds like an excellent project. Real problem, no good or desirable solution. You are one of the few that come here with something both interesting and worthwhile, opposed to another boring iphone accessory, and early on too.

Also, an excellent start. Keep posting your progress, guaranteed you will receive good advice.

Re: Raynaud's Disease - hand & foot-warmers

Postby Robbie_roy » October 26th, 2012, 8:46 pm

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pier wrote:
Robbie_roy wrote:Hello all,

I am starting a project that aims to help those with Raynaud’s Disease and am having trouble deciding on a target market. .....

....
- 15% of women between 15 and 40 in colder climates are the most common to have Raynaud's Disease, while about 3-5% of the world population has it.


Short, sharp, to the point: problem described, target market identified. You sound more confidence lacking or perhaps second-guessing previous advice received.

My only critique is that women age 15 - 40 represent quite different positions in life, activities, lifestyle, body changes even. Perhaps break down this range somehow?

It sounds like an excellent project. Real problem, no good or desirable solution. You are one of the few that come here with something both interesting and worthwhile, opposed to another boring iphone accessory, and early on too.

Also, an excellent start. Keep posting your progress, guaranteed you will receive good advice.


Thanks pier, I appreciate the encouragement and help! Great to see that you have done some medical and handheld electronics work on your website.

I agree that 15-40 is quite the large age range and should narrow down. I am thinking of 20-30, as they may be more likely to accept a new device into their lifestyle than older groups...

Re: Raynaud's Disease - hand & foot-warmers

Postby nxakt » October 27th, 2012, 2:52 am

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Robbie_roy wrote:
In the initial feedback that I got in class, most people thought it would be better to target an "extreme" user group like sports users -- such as snowboarding and skiing, and that from there, more general consumers would follow. However, I really do see more of an opportunity for a line of indoor solutions for young/middle age women because of the dexterity + warm need, and I have a hard time imaging that anything for outdoor sports wouldn't just be redesigning a glove ...


"extreme sports" by very definition tend to alienate the mass market, especially women. The potential to inspire your target is low. Polar opposite in my opinion. Risk, speed, and protection are the dominant themes.

Dexterity warmth images seem more appropo as you state.

Re: Raynaud's Disease - hand & foot-warmers

Postby Robbie_roy » October 27th, 2012, 4:15 pm

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Thanks nxakt, I like the idea of using theme words as well. So far, natural, flexible, refinement, comfort…

Re: Raynaud's Disease - hand & foot-warmers

Postby Lmo » October 28th, 2012, 1:59 pm

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It sounds like an excellent project. Real problem, no good or desirable solution. You are one of the few that come here with something both interesting and worthwhile, opposed to another boring iphone accessory, and early on too.


+1

... initial feedback that I got in class, most people thought it would be better to target an "extreme" user group like sports users -- such as snowboarding and skiing, and that from there, more general consumers would follow.


Not too hard to understand coming from a "young" audience; no offense meant.

I see more of a need and opportunity for something that keeps one's hands warm indoors, because there is simply more that one would need hand/finger dexterity for indoors, and sufferers of Raynaud's often do have cold fingers indoors.


According to The Raynaud's Association, there are in excess of 28,000,000 sufferers of RD in the United States alone. Also noted is that low temperatures in office spaces [68°F] correlates to increased errors and productivity compared to temperatures at, and above, 77°F so there is probably a bigger market than you realize. Further, pressure on the finger tips can induce a Raynaud's attack ( a consideration for any type of "apparel" solution).

One concern that I have would be that anyone with Raynaud's may not be able to sense the temperature of a warming device - just meaning that some form of environmental/body-temperature feedback loop would be necessary to prevent tissue damage. Obviously, if the wearer goes outside into say a 35°F environment, it will take more "power" to maintain a 98.6°F hand-temperature than if they were in the office.

By way of example; Recently a friend of mine competed in a 24-hour, 1000-mile cross-country motorcycle rally with temperatures ranging from 70-30°F (excluding a 65mph windchill affect). A long time long-distance competitor, he had previously found that on long rides like this his hands tend to cramp when wearing thicker, insulated, touring gloves so he opted to wear thin cotton gloves and relied on the heated-grip feature on his BMW motorcycle. Over the 20-hour period he was on the road he basically slow-cooked his palms resulting in huge painful blisters. At the time he said he wasn't even aware of what was going on because there was no acute pain to alert him. Regretfully, deep-tissue damage is apparently worse than initially diagnosed.

Large differences in pain response among humans is well documented. Few can, or will, continue to hold onto something that's going to burn them or give them blisters (I can hardly even jump through the hot water my wife takes long showers under). But apparently there are some people who can ... perhaps because their sensitivity is reduced. Something apparently one needs to know about oneself before using heated hand grips. The effect may be the same for sufferers of Raynaud's... while their extremities may feel cold to the touch, they may not actually be aware of ambient temperatures (oddly enough, the extremities sense cold the least - which actually makes them more susceptible to frostbite).

Lots to research to dig into.

Great project RR!

A little RD Association feedback on heated gloves.
http://www.raynauds.org/support/forums/ ... eadid=1997
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Re: Raynaud's Disease - hand & foot-warmers

Postby Robbie_roy » October 29th, 2012, 2:01 pm

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Thanks lmo, those are some great points! I can definitely see what you mean (agree about the hot shower point) and that when my fingers are numb, I can hardly tell the difference between cold, lukewarm, or hot water.

I didn't get too many responses by people I know who have RD, so things like posts by people who do are pretty valuable.

Re: Raynaud's Disease - hand & foot-warmers

Postby joyride » October 30th, 2012, 7:47 am


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I would kill for a heated mouse some days....My right hand is somehow ALWAYS colder than the left at work. I assume this is due to the constant movement and open palm position, where as my left is usually somewhat clenched and stagnant around CTRL-Z.

Re: Raynaud's Disease - hand & foot-warmers

Postby 6ix » October 30th, 2012, 12:06 pm

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I've suffered from this ailment for years. When it's even slightly cool outside, my fingers get extremely cold and painful. Mountain-biking was always particularly painful because the constant shock and vibration exacerbated the problem. My joints would scream in pain and I wouldn't be able to bend my fingers at all. I remember screaming in pain after one cold bike ride where I had to run luke-warm water over my hands to heat them up.

It just sucks. In the winter, I typically have a small space heater on my desk just to keep my fingers warm. Typing and pushing the mouse around while driving CAD models tends to make them even colder than normal. I've considered wearing liner gloves but it's easy to lose sense of touch on the mouse buttons.

I wonder if it would help to have heated wristbands. Would that warm the blood flowing to the fingers? Not sure but one of the main issues is that the disease makes your body pull blood away from extremities when faced with cold as a safety measure. The problem is that it does it too much.

Re: Raynaud's Disease - hand & foot-warmers

Postby iab » October 30th, 2012, 4:54 pm


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I'm confused. I'd treat the cause, not the symtom.

You clearly state the cause of this is poor circulation. Why aren't you looking at increasing circulation?

It is done for DVT compression pumps. Those are placed on the calves/legs. Some have large pumps, others, small battery-powered pumps. You certainly could place them on the forearms leaving the hands free to work.

And the latest research in wound healing shows that vibration increases circulation and decreases healing time. I do believe, I haven't read the specifics, that it requires a specific frequency and maybe at those certain frequencies it wouldn't cause the pain that 6ix described. I couldn't say without the proper research. The WOCN would lead you in the proper direction.

Re: Raynaud's Disease - hand & foot-warmers

Postby spatel » October 30th, 2012, 6:05 pm


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I am part of your target demographic! I think that treating the symptom is actually probably a better direction to go in than creating a pump that would increase circulation in the body. For me, exercise is a sufficient and viable solution to my problem, and I blame myself for not being consistent with it. I just can't see myself waking up and putting on a device that controls my circulation. As I am an artist and industrial designer, I feel that it is important for me to be able to use my hands in the shops and studio without compromising the quality of my work. I feel that your project has great potential to move in the direction of jewelry, fashion and wearable art, and I would love to see some designs that deviate from the aesthetics seen in sports goods and medical device design. I hope this information is helpful to you.

Re: Raynaud's Disease - hand & foot-warmers

Postby Lmo » October 30th, 2012, 7:55 pm

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Welcome aboard spatel

And the latest research in wound healing shows that vibration increases circulation and decreases healing time.


I should be noted that along with cool-to-cold temperatures, varying degrees of vibration can bring on Raynaud attacks (The Raynaud's Association). At what frequency? Not stated.

.My right hand is somehow ALWAYS colder than the left at work.


Is your right hand at, or near heart level (while your left hand is lower)? = less blood pressure to your right hand = cooler temperature.

Is your right wrist cushioned, or bearing down on the desk? If uncushioned, the ulnar and radial palmar arteries may be compressed, restricting blood flow. = cooler temperature.


Image

An acute angle of the wrist would also do this ... are your wrists in a "straight line" with your forearms while seated at your workstation?

Image

I've suffered from this ailment for years.


Have you just self-diagnosed yourself as an RD suffer?
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Re: Raynaud's Disease - hand & foot-warmers

Postby Robbie_roy » October 31st, 2012, 1:53 am

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Thank you for all for the continued feedback & discussion.

@6ix // iab: I came across something called Heatbands, but they have seemed to have gone defunct. Very interesting though, wish I found it earlier -- one of the only existing products that focuses on a indoors/hands-free solution. They go on your wrist and indeed treat Raynaud's via improving circulation by reflecting the body's heat. Unfortunately, mixed results from what I can find (second link) and they are not reusable.
http://www.business-opportunities.biz/2 ... body-heat/
http://www.raynauds.org/support/forums/ ... eadid=1248

Image

iab: I am still early on in the process but I don't want to close off any possible development avenues. Most of the medicines used for treating Raynaud's helps by increasing circulation / expanding the arteries and blood vessels, so I can definitely see merit in a device that would do the same (without all the side effects and constant cost of buying). This project may later expand to Raynaud's in feet, and there are some good examples of non-intrusive products in things like ankle gauntlets (below) that improve circulation. At the same time, I would want to avoid some of the hocus-pocus products out there that are related to circulation, although some of it is hilarious:
... made through scientific method refining. Powerful Bio-Magnets are embedded inside. They are specially crafted to produce a kinetic energy field enhanced by the centripetal movement of magnetic force and along with Tourmaline Fiber relies Far Infrared rays and Negative Ions which Stimulates vasodilatation of peripheral blood vessels ...


Image

@spatel: Thanks for chiming in, that is a great idea to depart from medical device/something artificial, and this could play into the expandable strategy constraint that we have to work in ...

@Lmo: Your point about vibration is good ... I was originally looking at helping construction workers specifically, whose prolonged use of power tools gives them Secondary Raynaud's Syndrome or related Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome, and in many cases permanent damage even after retirement. It seemed almost too specific though, not as much chance to expand beyond vibration-dampening gloves or vibration meters that go on the tool itself (though I could be completely wrong and missing opportunities).

Thanks again all, loving all this discussion. I have started making quick and dirty prototypes for seeing what is comfortable and a Philly-based company, Stockwell Elastomerics, was nice enough to send me samples of a thermally conductive silicone. Might have to venture into the cold to see what works ;)

Re: Raynaud's Disease - hand & foot-warmers

Postby 6ix » October 31st, 2012, 10:43 am

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If you ever need a tester for this project, let me know. Would certainly be glad to help. I'll definitely follow this project as I hope you come up with something to alleviate the pain.

Re: Raynaud's Disease - hand & foot-warmers

Postby Robbie_roy » October 31st, 2012, 2:52 pm

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Thanks 6ix, much appreciated! I'll keep this updated and let you know how things are going.

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