Academy of Art University
The pUP Tent was our favorite entry of the Student Soft Goods category for its inclusive concept, thorough research and thoughtful development. The designer clearly thought about the entire experience of the camper, and not just the tent itself — and performed comprehensive research and experimentation to achieve a design that would allow those with physical limitations to experience the outdoors in a new way. Clean, detailed renderings and comprehensive presentation overal
pUP is an outdoor 2-person inflatable camping tent. It is structured by air tubes out of heavy gauge PVC and water-repellent breathable fabrics. It inflates itself in 5 minutes by 4 D batteries or portable air pump. A set of uniquely designed stakes as optional accessories that allow people in wheelchairs insert them easier.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?
Mobility-disabled people are spending 2 billion dollars annually on traveling worldwide, and the number of this segment is increasing. There will be about 21 million mobility-disabled people in 5 years in United States. Camping appears to be one of the most popular activities among Americans, Europeans and it is emerging in Asia. Being outdoors offers a variety of physical and psychological benefits to people, especially for persons in wheelchairs. However, camping remains untapped for mobility-disabled people. They have less mobility, less leverage, and less strength on pitching a tent and transferring from their wheelchairs to the sleeping area. As a result, a lot of them give up camping which they used to enjoy. The challenge of the project were mostly about understanding disabled people`s behavior and carrying out the new concept and making it real.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
Rethink about the tent which has been around for a lot of years, and give it a new concept by looking at the target users who were not considered before. It is not just about the tent itself, but the whole experience, including the storage pack of the tent that allows disable people to carry and move around, the stake that allows them to drill into the dirt with hands and upper body strength.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)
During the ideation, I had an idea of a self-inflated tent which has a built-in air mattress at the bottom, so the bottom is elevated which will be easier for my target users to get in n out. After I interviewed target users with a full-scale model, I tested out the dimension, and they all like the inflatable idea, so I decided to go with that air inflation direction. I played with balloons to understand the process of air inflation and how they get the support from the air to stand by themselves. Based on the understanding of that, I continued developing air-tight tent concepts. Then I studied current products that are air-inflated, such as jumping castles, water slides, air mattresses. They all use PVC as the material, and some heavy duty PVC for the slides, but they weigh 120kg for a 26*16*15 feet castle. So for an 8by8 foot tent, it is going to be approximately 30kg. It will be too heavy if the whole tent is made out of PVC to be air-tight. In order to make it lighter and more transferrable by physically challenged campers, combining PVC and fabric will be more effective in many ways, in terms of cost and containing the air. Also, it opens more design opportunities. Suddenly, the shape can become more dynamic and organic that will blend into a natural environment, instead of the most common shape, a dome. Then, I got an inspiration from the skeleton of animals. Their bones can be seen as supports. The difference between the tent I am designing and others on the market is this air-inflated feature, so why not celebrate it! So I ended up with this final concept by combining the ideas of an air-inflated skeleton and bottom sleeping area and a fabric covering for the rest of the tent. After I made the mockup, I realized that the curvy poles did not work as I thought. Actually it went straight from the bottom to the top; also the lounge area I designed wasn’t stable and secured enough by 2 poles. Then I added another horizontal tube to go through all the vertical tubes, at the position where tubes are angled in. So these poles will play the role of holding fabrics strongly and in place. I designed the stakes to cater to the needs of people in wheelchairs, and those who cannot stoop. They go approximately 60 degrees inwards towards the tent, which goes against the wind and locks the tent in place. A User can sit in a wheelchair and turn the stake around to screw it into the dirt. The stakes are made of aluminum that contain a straight cylinder that turns into a helix at the bottom, 2 handles for easy grip, and a stopper comes out in the middle to indicate how deep it goes into dirt when the stopper hits the foot of the tent. When they want to release the stake, they turn the handle counter clockwise.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.)
The pUP tent will benefit people in general, who with or without physical limitations, and provides new camping experience.