I’ve been browsing these forums since I was in high school in 2005 and its finally time for me to start working on my senior thesis project. Figured I would share the progress with Core77 since the forums have had quite a influence during my time in school.
UC gives us 3 months to work on our thesis, but I’m hoping to get a head start as I believe 3 months is a short time-frame to full develop research, design intent, prototype, and create a top class presentation. So hoping to get research and initial design out of the way within the next three months. That way I can focus on refinement and presentation the last 3 months.
Right now I’m deciding between two projects. Would appreciate some feedback on the two concepts
1. Action Sports Prosthetics:
The idea behind this would be similar to what http://www.bespokeinnovations.com/ is doing. But the concept is that the fearing’s would not just be aesthetics, but also serve a technical purpose for the desired sport. Would look to tackle sports like Rockclimbing, Weight lifting, Cycling. The idea is that a prosthetic should be able to enhance a user to be more-abled than a regular athlete. To turn the “disabilaity” into a “super ability”.
2. Soccer Training System.
The idea here is to create something similar to Nike SPARQ. A system of gear: clothing, bags, watch, cleats, guards, cones, etc. With the purpose of creating a system that will encourage athletes to push their limits and enhance their game. Could focus on technology and how we can harness that power to manage progress and push through barriers. Also could focus on material advancements in other areas and see how that can be applied to sports. Also would have a strong emphasis on developing a visual brand language an applying it over a variety of products.
I have passion for both projects. The prosthetic project has been a project in the making for the past 23 years. I was born a below elbow amputee, so I have first hand experience with the problems of traditional prosthetics and feel like I could bring good insight into the process. However after presenting my capstone proposal. I realize another student, transportation track, has a very similar idea idea and has been been working on the same idea in their capstone class. This might be cool to have two different students tackle the same problem and see the differences in final execution.
Soccer is also a strong passion of mine, and the reason I actually became an Industrial designer (played competitively for over 18years.) Another thing in the mix is that one of my dream jobs is Tom DeBlasis job, Global Design Director of Nike Soccer as well as working in the Nike Kitchen. So I feel like a project like this would be a much better stepping stone in that aspect. Plus the design and branding of a large system of products like this seems like it would be something that could translate very well into a portfolio and something that a design consultancy could easily see and translate to applicable skills.
Both projects have merit. One thing to consider is that Nike see’s student projects that are Nike branded products under current categories all the time, so I think it may not be as interesting to them as you may think. Nike is all about performance, as is written in the book of Nike Maxims, “if you have a body, you are an athlete”. If you go to the Innovation Kitchen, typically the designers there are more likely to brag about working with kid’s with special needs on product than about a larger commercial success. So, where I’m driving here, is that I think you should do your prosthetic project, but center it around competitive sport and training for competitive sport, and make it Nike branded.
I’d go with the prosthetic. Just the fact you have personal experience in the area could lend a great deal of insight and also makes a great story!
Only caution is there seems to be a lot of cool looking technical prosthetics around lately, just make sure you research those existing things and make yours better. I think should be no problem given your personal experience so can come off more of a real solution rather than the usual (“wouldn’t it be cool to have a neat looking designer carbon fiber leg thing”).
Thanks guys, always have been leaning towards the prothetic idea. Just seemed like the obvious choice for a senior thesis.
I only bring up the soccer idea because it seems like it might translate better to a portfolio piece. I’ve had a few people mention “would the jobs you want really want to see that.” in regards to the prosthetic. If both projects were executed well, which one would be better for me in the job market.
Michael, never really thought of it like that. I’m sure Nike does see a lot of student projects based around the them. Reframing other categories into the sporting arena might be more memorable than just another sports project.
Richard, for sure. I’ve seen countless designer prosthetic concepts that all fall short. Definitely think I could bring some good insight into that area.
I don’t think you’ll get pegged as a prosthetic only designer if you do that project. That being said you do have an opportunity to push it in whatever direction you want (ie. sport, outdoor, branding, etc) to fit where you want to go. A good project is a good project.
Where do you want to work in 1 year? 5 years? 10? Not that things might change …
Prosthetic. No question. However, it might be a bit tough since there have been a few big projects that you need to differentiate from (like Bespoke).
Can’t wait to see how you address things from the exciting (form, branding) to the mundane (maintenance, taking on and off). Could be a strong piece if you create a great story that not only solves a problem, but teaches us something new. I have no idea what it’s like to wear a prosthetic.
Not my fear, just was worried that a medical based project would not be as appealing as a more consumer based project in a recent grads portfolio. But thats a short term outlook. Prothetic redesign will hold its impact much loner than a few flashy soccer accessories will.
As for where I want to be in the next few years. Not sure what path I want to take, but I hope I get a chance to work in the footwear industry (nike, adidas, puma). Lifestyle/electornic based consultancies are also on the list (cinco, astro, carbon, one&co, new deal). I’d also like to try my luck at the larger strategic design consultancies (continumm, frog, smart) at some point as well…Might be a bit optimistic to say I want to try everything, but hopefully I can try each of those areas at some point in my career. I’ve know I’ve got quite a ways to go, but I’m sure I’ll make it happen.
@Julius Thanks, glad the prosthetic idea is resonating so well. Definitely will try and tackle all those aspect. Hopefully I can bring a well rounded approach to the more mundane and less flashy parts. Something a lot of prosthetic concepts I’ve seen recently are lacking.
The only thing I would add is do you think you are going to get good user groups and research opportunities for the prosthetic action sports? I know the best research you can get is living the experience yourself, but I think you are going to need more than that to validate your concept. Your senior thesis should be your most complete project (great execution in all aspects of the design process).
Also, I would be weary about the prototyping and engineering involved with the prosthetic. Having seen your chair project last semester I believe you have the technical skill, but I think the prosthetic brings a whole new ball game. Like do you think you can test the prosthetic prototypes with real end users? I see the front end of this project being extremely mockup heavy. If done right, the research and validation phases could be really impressive.
I like the idea of you weaving in your own life story into the project, it shows passion and will definitely set you apart from the others out there, just make sure you can give the project thorough and complete execution. Good luck, excited to see what you do!
A medical, or prosthetic device, would be infintely more interesting in a recent grad’s, or just about any, portfolio. For one thing, it would easily generate talking points where you have the confidence of greater and applicable real knowledge and where your passion for design should be obvious. Conversely, discussing yet another iphone accessory I would forget in 5 seconds.
Alright time for a thesis update. I’ve been slacking on keeping everyone updated. Hopefully I’ll be more on board with documenting my process from now on.
So this is my final problem statement. In a nutshell the idea is to treat a prosthetic like a piece of sporting equipment.
Currently prosthetics are a jack of all trades and really a master of none. I think that approach is a bit inappropriate in a sport setting.
I’m hoping to try and create a prosthetic that not only excels at preforming its specific task, but blends in with the environment in which it is used. A silicone flesh toned arm has a different purpose than a carbon fiber arm. The aesthetic should call back to the action its ment to be used Sporting prosthetics are not there to visually replace a missing limb, they are there to help the user excel at a task.
So I wanted to look at things surrounding the sports and how they could be used as form inspiration. While the functional aspect are going to be a good deal of the process. I strongly believe the visual cues of this project are whats truly important. The mechanical aspects of prosthetics have been refined over the past few decades, however the aesthetic side have been very bland and only recently have companies begin to truly explore the form posibilites of them.
Based off of the faceted nature of the indoor rockwalls.
There is a lot of great machined gear in climbing. A lot of pride goes into the tech side of lead climbing, as it is crucial to your saftey.
Everything about the sport is about maximizing your grip.
The underlying structure of indoor rock walls is amazing. Also the rigging of rope is very methodical and calculated.
While the aesthetic side is going to be a big part of the project. I also understand that the prosthetic needs to function at the highest level possible. I’ve been climbing at our rock wall multiples a week in order to get a first hand experience with climbing with a prosthetic.
This the progression of my prototypes. My engineering background is a tad limited so these prototypes have been trial and error. Luckily I’ve had a classmate, who’s a certified welder, help me out with the welding and double check my attempts to make sure my prototypes are fairly safe. So far I’ve been playing around with different angles of attack, pick shapes, lengths and rubber coatings in order to try and understand what works best on the different variety of holds.
Overview of common types of holds and how the claw prototypes fair against them.
Analysis of belaying and lead climbing and challenges there.
Finalization break down of design problems and how they translate to design requirements.
Finalize a few different form directions.
Really inspiring work. How you break down the problem and explain the form studies are really strong—definitely going to try and incorporate that into my own studio work.
I’d look further into rock climbing from an outdoor perspective. If you can, look up some local bouldering spots and go watch as climbers “work a problem”—might help expand your mindset. Most climbers will agree, gym climbing is very different than outdoor, and nothing is more free and independent than hiking into the woods with a bag of chalk and a crashpad. There’s a certain level of freedom that your design solution might help enable.
And it’s a longshot, but for the end-effect design—a dynamic multi-finger approach(like a simplified Gator Grip socket)?
Alright another small update. Documented a bit more of the challenges faced while rock climbing with a prosthetic. Just a very quick break down.
Top Roping - Style of climbing that is most popular. Harnessed in, climbing upwards. You attack most hold from underneath.
Bouldering - A type of climbing in which you are not harnessed in. You traverse side to side, your attack most holds from the side, often using very different gripping strategies than top roping.
Belaying. When Top Roping another person will belay, this keeps the climber from falling very far in case of a fall. Very important that this is done correctly, as it is a huge safety risk if it fails . There are different types of belay devices, each with a unique use pattern.
On an indoor walls there are multiple holds. Each hold is usually marked with a piece of tape. These tapes signify routes.
Take away: Certain routes are easier for a prosthetics. Some routes requires switching between multiple terminal devices in order to climb certin sections.
The different style of holds on a wall. Some require a different approach to artificially grip than others.
Very basic design requirements.
A overview of the prosthetics claws I’ve tried and a few sketches for form. All very quick doodles.
Break down, current prototypes. Show Pro/Cons of each device.
Begin form development.
Nice, looks like a solid research process. Don’t short change yourself on form development/model making time though!
This might not be feasible or realistic but could there be some way to switch out different types of climbing claws mid climb for the differing types of holds? Maybe something as simple as a two sided claw that somehow rotates and locks to give two differing grip options? Just an idea.
Definitely, been working on form stuff side by side. Just haven’t put it into a presentation/process book yet. Thats up next.
The second part is what I’ve been trying to really solve the past 5-6 weeks. Became very apparent when I started climbing this is what would be needed. Almost scrapped the project, because of how mechanically oriented the projects initially seemed. But once I broke it down a bit more, simple solutions started coming to light.
As for the two sided claw that rotates and locks. I have that exact same concept being FDM printed right now. Should have it back in the next day or so and I’ll post up a video of how I expect it to work.
These are a few of the early concepts I was playing around with. There is A LOT that can be finessed. Not really happy with anything. But just putting this up here as a reminder to update what I’m currently working on.
Also a little video on how I was thinking about quickly changing out different climbing devices. This idea would be double sided allowing for two climbing claws to be easily swapped out.
Cool, like some of the grasshopper structures. For the swapping head mechanism is there some way that you could use a quick change swap out like a keyless drill chuck, or air hose coupler, so that the user could swap the heads in and out from an accessory belt. Might be a bit much to ask mid climb.
I got back one of my mechanical prototypes for the claw concept. The idea is you would have two climbing claws attached. You would then be able to knock the top and it would disengage the teeth and lower it into a free spin area. Spin it to the other side or adjust the angle of the current claw. Pull and the teeth engage again, causing it to lock into place.
Prototype worked fairly well. Just wondering if there is a better way to do this.
Also been playing around with Grasshopper a bit more. Exploring what I can do with that.
Started woking on the final model. The guys over at Rocco prosthetics have been very helpful and are helping me build the socket for the prosthetic. Since I already have a prosthetic, they are able to just make a duplicate of that. If I didnt already have a prsothetic, the steps would be similar similar, but It would take a bit longer to make sure the fit was perfect. Currently have to smooth out the plaster cast and that will be laminated next week.
Getting close to a final aesthetic direction. Played around in rhino some more. I like this direction, but have heard mixed things about it compared to the earlier ideas. Front side is a bit more true to human form, while the back side is closer to the face on a rock wall.