My name is Poetri Marsela from Academy of Art university. My current project is a walker for my product design class.
The target market will be children from age 8 - 12 that are physically disabled and need a walker to help them balancing themselves while walking.
One of the goal for this project is to design a walker that are not looks like a walker. In this case I try to explore with styling. Having surface changes, colors and even materials and also trying to stay away from circular tubing. Up to this point, they way I approach it is by having bikes, cars or futuristic vehicles as my references for style. I’m trying to make it interesting and different but still appropriate for the target market because they will use it every time and they will take it everywhere.
I would like you inputs for it and any inputs are welcome.
P.S: sketches 1 -5 are purely styling. sketches 6 - 15 styling based on structured we picked in class.
The tubes could be hydro-formed as in bike frames, as a concept, leaving behind round tubular frames seems a good direction.
I wonder about the implied visual personality of the walker. The colors are bright and cheerful, however what do you think about building in the ability for the user to be able modify the graphics to more fit him or her? Stickering or graphics that can be easily swapped out depending venue perhaps.
Yes we have made 7 mockups or more (its a group project). Started with 3 mockups purely exploring different structures, then narrow down into 3 more concept based on the one concept we picked then few more as more refinement to the concept which is the based structure for the sketches 6 - 15.
We made the mockup out of pac tubing and did looked out for feed backs from user or care giver and physical therapies and been very fortunate that we got a lot of feed back and so far the concept is in a good direction.
Manufacturing methods will be based on the materials we will use and also depends on will be a low production or high production.
Unfortunately I can’t answer how does insurance/ medicaid reimburse the walker, but it will good to look at. Will get back to you on that.
Getting more into the project, I do realize how the walker especially the handle are not ergonomic and been working on that to make it more ergonomic. Keeping in mind that the target market are children form age 8 - 12, surprisingly, children these days are like mini adults. Their height’s are insane. Roughly, from age 8 - 12 both male and female, the ranges of the heights are from 4’ 5" to 5’ 4". Having these as the base human factor, I take an average as the guide and the height of the walkers are usually around on the waist height. I will take more details on human factor and designed based on it. Thank you so much for your input
Yeah, tubular frames makes it just look other walkers right now, trying to get out from it been my main concern.
You are reading my mind!! That ideas are exactly how I imagine. Having some kind of sleeve for the joint part customizable or even the grip on the handles and customizable graphics for the structure. Customizable is one of the idea behind the colors and style.
Imagining children will be using this 24/7, light weight is an important aspect to remember. Some materials we proposed are aluminum since its very cheap, polycarbonate which surprisingly light and strong, and also carbon fiber but keeping in mind the expensive price. Do you have any more suggestions on materials that I possibly could use?
As a group (it is a group project), we did some quick mockups out of pvc tubing. As long we can explore and get feed back on the structure and how it feels when its being used.
It looks to me like you are styling something. Have you spent time with disabled children that use walkers, have you looked into grip strength, balance, weight of the devices, how will it collapse for transport, how will it work indoors and out and on various surfaces. And, for the age range your designing for, adjustability to accommodate for changing height, arm length, grip size and user weight over time,
One of the main focus on this assignment is about styling, exploring style and forms. I have to tell you that the sketches were in the very beginning stage of the process. As I work on more, I do have some adjustment on the configurations.
The population of the user will be children that able to walk and have upper body strength ( mild diplegia). So they will be able to stand, walk, and have strength to grip the handles. The purpose of the walker for them is for their balance. Adding to some thought about the grip on handle, it might be on angle instead of straight because the children tented to “rest” their arm on the handle bar and having the grip on handle on angle will be more comfortable for them.
How it will collapse, it will have hinges on the leg so it folds up, the other two legs will fold up like an umbrella, the handle will fold down. Roughly that is the idea for now. The form after its collapse will be only as big as a backpack.
All the parts are adjustable to provide the user’s growth since it will be use for years as they grow up.
While my question may not seem relevant to the design process, it does have an impact that, in my perception, is rarely addressed by students. This by no means is the fault of the student. I squarely put the blame on your instruction.
I would like to preface the following rant with I truly believe there is value in design exercises that are not constrained to reality. My problem when I review portfolios from new graduates, it seem there is little, if any, regard to those constraints. And it is frustrating because I have to train the fresh graduate with those limits when they should have gotten some instruction about it.
So back to the insurance/Medicaid question. They are the entities that will pay for your walker. Sure, you will have a very low percentage of people paying directly. But there is no company in the world that will base their total available market on people paying cash for a medical device. Not gonna happen. Insurance companies and Medicaid have rules about medical device reimbursement. A company producing your walker will follow those rules.
You are certainly don’t have to follow this constraint for this project. But please pressure your instructors to at least inform you of these limitations when you are designing. Your future employer will appreciate that you have that knowledge.
I’m open to any question about this project not just from the design point of view
Yeah, as a class our in structure never mentioned anything about how the insurance or Medicaid will reimburse it. Thank you so much for explaining it to me.
I would have no idea about it if you never mention it. I honestly thought that the insurance or Medicaid will just reimburse it. but again, thank you so much for the information. I will let my instructor know about this.