Last week our Year 2 Product Design students had the opportunity to ask some questions and get feedback to help finalise their products ahead of their pitch to Designability.
The students have been working with three members of the community who have an extra need, Stephen Early, Kate Clark and Wills Aston. At the start of the project the users briefed the students on what everyday life was like, and the challenges that they face each day. It was then up to the students to think about what sort of product would be useful to alleviate a certain problem, as well being commercially viable and flexible to all sorts of need levels.
Their end client is Designability, who are an independent charity dedicated to making everyday life easier for people with disabilities or a long term health condition by inventing new life-changing assistive products and technologies. Designability follow the principle of human centred design, they respond to real issues raised by real people living with real disabilities. This is a principle the students have chosen to follow, as they are responding directly to real issues raised by Stephen, Kate and Wills.
The sheer range of ideas from the students is outstanding, each one pulling from an issue they interpreted from their talks with Stephen, Kate and Wills. Stephen, who uses a wheelchair, mentioned that he struggled to clean the wheels after he drives through mud. One student has designed a brush that can be operated with a standard drinks bottle. Stephen was thrilled with the idea, as all he would have to do it screw it in, give the bottle a quick squeeze and move his chair forward. Kate uses a walking stick to assist with her mobility and had off-handedly mentioned she was thinking about getting a dog. One student took this on board and designed a clip on lead that would allow Kate to continue using her walking stick, whilst also keeping her other hand free in case she has a fall.
The students have really thrown themselves into the project, thinking about what the users really needed, how they would work and how they could be adapted to people with more complex needs and how user-friendly they were. The feedback session proved invaluable for the users and students alike. The students were able to get real user feedback, final measurements and gather vital ergonomic data about what handles, motions, lengths and weights were comfortable to use. The users got to help finalise and see what products could soon be out there on the market to assist them.
Product Design tutor James Purslow stated “The students have outdone themselves this year, fantastic engagement with the project, their consideration for needs of the ‘end users’ and their willingness to adapt and adopt to the feedback from both the Designability mentor Rob Hanson and the users themselves. They have faced both engineering and ergonomic challenges that are beyond what is usually expected of students at this level and, not only have they stepped up to these challenges, they have developed some fantastically innovative, surprising and commercially viable products.” – the students really should be proud of themselves!
The students now have a final week to amend their products, utilising their newly gathered feedback. The final pitch to Designability will be Friday 23rd November, and we wish them the best of luck!