Umeå Institute of Design
This design addresses a real problem: while current respirators take care of a need (feeding oxygen to the user) they don’t address the natural desire for mobility. For the younger user, this is a critical requirement. This product recognizes that kids want and need to move around and limits disruption of their everyday life while being treated. We appreciated how the concept transformed the experience from a two to one person activity allowing the parent to focus on the wellbeing of the child as opposed to the delivery of oxygen.
Ventum is a portable respirator for life maintaining support designed with a child as the primary user. Remote setup and monitoring provides increased freedom for the child and full control for the caregiver.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 available products for respiratory care on the market today are mainly designed for a stationary use and not at all adapted for a active child. Premature births are steadily increasing in the world and with respiratory complications as one of the most common birth defects the need for respiratory equipment designed for children are increasing. For a example a child born with underdeveloped lungs can be almost as active as a healthy child except their progress, development and ability to move around are impaired by the equipment available today. The treatment can be ongoing for years and after a initial stage moved from a hospital environment to a home environment. A respirator in this use case has three different users. First the active user which is the child that needs the mobility and functions that gives maximum freedom but doesn't care about the functions or interaction of the product. Second user is the caregiver that will do light maintenance and monitor the products functions, battery status respond to alarms etc and need a understandable and reliable product that can give a peace of mind. The third user are the professionals, doctor and nurses that are responsible to set up and calibrate the product. All these user have different needs and wants and a goal was to try and accommodate for as many as possible of them.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
I wanted to create a solution that formost allowed the user, the child to just have the ability to be a child and not be held back because of technical hardware. A product with focus on functionality and user friendliness. A additional criteria in the brief was that the final solution should be feasible to produced within the next ten years and not exceed the cost of respirators available today.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)
This project was done in collaboration with the premature ward at Norrlands university hospital one of the national leaders of premature births and care in Sweden. The close collaboration with the experts in the field made sure that the project keep its relevance and accuracy. Through the hospital I got in contact with families that where living with respiratory treatment and could do observations and interviews to get a first hand experience of the patient situation and the everyday problems with the current solutions. Current respirators where examined and analysed to understand the hardware. Besides the medical expertise the project where guided by a mentor, a senior product designer with years of experience in the medical field and the involvement of one of the biggest manufacturers of respiratory equipment for technical expertise. With a thorough design process with market research, product analysis, ideation, brainstorming sessions, multiple mockup phases, constant involvement and user testing with children, evaluating, discussions and new iterations lead up to the final result. In terms of the stakeholders its interesting to design a product for a consumer that most likely wont pay or buy the product but will get it through the healthcare system. Furthermore the market for pediatric respiratory users are fairly small and probably one of the primary reasons why there are little development in that area. So my goal was to design a product working well for a young user but not excluding the bigger market and therefor make it attractive for a producer that can cover other market segments with the same device.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.)
Putting a price on the well being and development of a child is impossible and probably priceless if you would ask a parent to a sick child. Providing a product that will increase the freedom of movement for a child and at the same time increase security and control for the caregiver will have a impact on many levels. The immediate impact is the improved medical care for the child but also the impact it will have on the close family that can feel the satisfaction of being able to provide the best care possible for your child.