Team Wind / NYU - Interactive Telecommunications Program
The Lifecycle concept was an inexpensive solution to meet a legitimate transportation need.
Lifecycle is a bike kit designed for Northern Uganda emergency transit. It quickly connects two normal bikes and turns them into an emergency transport vehicle. The project was created for “Design for UNICEF”, a course at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
The main methods of transportation in rural Northern Uganda are biking and walking. But incapacitated people — pregnant women, sick children and the injured — can’t be carried on single bikes because of instability. This forces them to walk, several hours in most cases, to receive treatment at clinics. This can be impossible for those needing immediate medical care. Lifecycle tries to remedy that problem.
The Lifecycle kit provides pieces that can quickly and safely connect almost any two bikes. It can be put together by a husband and pregnant wife. And when they’re finished, the wife can sit in the passenger seat and be pushed by the husband!3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
We wanted to offer a design that is not only a product, but also a template for users in Northern Uganda to iterate upon. While the design uses specific materials, the specificity of materials isn’t crucial to the project. Instead, the combination of small mechanisms that make the connection work are what we emphasized. This project was more an engineering feat than it was a product for market. For example, a crucial aspect to ensure stability of the system is that the wheels moves in unison. Lifecycle shows a very simple design that ideally can be replicated with local supplies.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
We researched the transportation problems in Northern Uganda for people trying to reach clinics. In addition, we researched and acknowledged the possibility of using Lifecycle as a cart that transports goods to the market. This insight came from talking directly to people at UNICEF and local Ugandans. We also talked to bike experts to research what type of mechanisms would best allow for two bikes to be connected. We went through three iterations of the bike kit and, each time — after a fall or two — we learned what mechanisms were crucial to making a bike kit like this sturdy. We eventually tested our final iteration on cobblestone roads in New York City, which you can view in the attached video.
As far as stakeholder interests, we considered a model that was initially funded by UNICEF. But the initial product would have strong documentation as well as a clear design, which would allow locals to create their own version of the product with local materials.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
Lifecycle is a standalone product/kit/model that would provide mobility to people who most need it. It would connect people with life-saving resources by relying on existing commonly used transportation vehicles. The true potential, though, lies in what people can do with a few simple examples of engineering. And these concepts can be repurposed for all types of vehicles. By showing local Ugandans a potential business in building four-wheel vehicles out of parts that already exist — or building kits that transform their two-wheel bikes into stable four-wheel carts — we hope to spur locally-driven innovation in the area of personal transportation.