DI: What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
INDTDDI : We identified usage demands after a survey with rehabilitation professionals and walker users. Among the demands, we chose to develop a walker for people with difficulties in the transfer movement (sit-to-stand), which did not look like a hospital product. It was a great challenge to align these features while maintaining low complexity and low manufacturing cost.
DI: What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
INDTDDI : Shift is an invitation to freshen up some social misconceptions about age, disabilities, impairments and assistive devices. Often elderly and disabled people are perceived for their health and functional characteristics, despite of individual qualities in a society full of diversity. We believe Shift represents a challenge to design new devices to solve the diversity of users demands, rather than trying to match existing solutions for different abilities and impairments in available devices, what may cause greater health or functional losses to the individual.
DI: What are your future plans for this award winning design?
INDTDDI : The next step is find companies interested in the manufacture and sale of the walker.
DI: How long did it take you to design this particular concept?
INDTDDI : Twelve months from research to development of the final prototype.
DI: Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?
INDTDDI : The National Institute of Technology works by giving the right of exploitation to companies. The manufacturing is up to the company that receives the exploitation right. Today the Shift is ready to be produced, however adjustments are always necessary to adapt the manufacturing to the processes and possibilities of those who explore the production.
DI: What made you design this particular type of work?
INDTDDI : The Division of Industrial Design of the Institute has been researching and designing assistive devices for more than 30 years, so we are constantly generating solutions in this field.
DI: Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
INDTDDI : The great guiding force of this project was democratizing the use of a low cost walker that combines functionality and aesthetics. We think there is no way to design without the user's insertion into the process. This issue becomes more effective when we talk about assistive equipment, which has a large impact on people's lives. Therefore, the user was an important guide to the project, insert since beginning of the process. The concept of sustainability influenced our choices as well , leading us to choose less impact constructive techniques and materials.
DI: Who is the target customer for his design?
INDTDDI : Shift was conceived for a peculiar group in mind: those walker users who can perform a secure and independent gait pattern, but have difficulties to rise from a seated to standing posture without assistance or vice-versa.
DI: What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
INDTDDI : Different from standard walkers’ configurations that use to restrict approximation to some horizontal platforms as couches or beds, Shift’s two back elongation tips were designed in order to allow a better fit to different seating platforms. The closeness of the lower handlebar position to the user’s body gravity center, exploits a more natural strength distribution between arms, torso and lower limbs muscle groups and, therefore, makes easier and safer to stand and to sit maneuvers. The innovative shape emerged from the desire to improve functionality of a standard device keeping low cost but using user friendly style solutions.
DI: How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
INDTDDI : The word Shift has emerged as an enjoyable pun about the whole design proposal, which comprises the postural transition, the intent of proclaim a self-image shift from a passive status to a dynamic and confident figure and, finally, the suggestion of a shift on design focus from impairments, restrictions and disabilities to function, activity and engaging in life.
DI: Which design tools did you use when you were working on this project?
INDTDDI : The project methodology was based on research done with a group of potential users and professionals in the health area. In a second moment, the symbolic values and design parameters were defined of the equipment. Through this information, a Moodboard was created, an essential tool for the next stage, production of possibilities for the equipment. Sketches of the initial ideas were made. Later, the most interesting ideas were developed, gaining more details and structural definitions. Only then we used 3D modeling and printing processes to elaborate what would be a final proposal would be. It was followed by mock up prototyping so that the team evaluated aspects such as shape, biomechanics and functionality. The last step was the prototype fabrication and biomechanical validation with the group of patients and professionals who participated in the project at the initial moment.
DI: What is the most unique aspect of your design?
INDTDDI : We think the singularity of the project is a balanced combination on ergonomic, functional and aesthetic solutions in an assistive and lower cost device.
DI: Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
INDTDDI : We had the partnership with physiotherapists, occupational therapists, engineers, physical education professionals, besides designers with different backgrounds.
DI: Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
INDTDDI : We conducted field research with rehabilitation professionals and walker users, systematic literature reviews on development of walker projects in the last 10 years, patent searches, biomechanical analysis of the performance on postural transitions maneuvers with a standard walker and the designed prototype.
DI: What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
INDTDDI : Research challenge was that some rehabilitation institutes contacted for partnership didn’t answer, which is an usual and protective posture, since some elderly and disabled people may be vulnerable to ethical issues. Technical challenges were to address sit-to-stand assistance; foldability; materials and shapes that may evoke please sensations, yet maintaining weight, support aid and production costs requirements.
DI: How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
INDTDDI : We live in a scenario of rapid population aging and an increase in the percentage of people with disabilities and functional limitations, which makes it increasingly important to develop assistive technology adjusted not only to the demands of the body, but also to the subject, who is an individual in a plural society. We believe that project submission at the award could serve as an incentive for new designers, to have a different view to assistive technology. It is an area with a lot of potential to be explored, not only in technological terms, but in relation to users' demands and experiences.
DI: What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
INDTDDI : We’ve learned a lot about the product walker, its value on different health conditions rehabilitation, and also its limitations. The exchange with rehabilitation professionals and their patients, on field search, brought to light some matters that couldn’t be unveiled at the “comfort of the office”. We believe the greatest learning was the relevance of being with these people during the development of the project.