VITA

- Improving memory recollection, safety and concentration in recovering stroke patients -

VITA

- Improving memory recollection, safety and concentration in recovering stroke patients -

VITA

- Improving memory recollection, safety and concentration in recovering stroke patients -

'Empower people who live with long term, lifestyle-related health conditions to take a greater role in managing their own care'

The Problem

Around 30% of stroke survivors suffer from memory and concentration issues in some form, which can be extremely debilitating; making simple tasks very difficult and leading to feelings of frustration, vulnerability, and a lack of independence. 

The Opportunity

To improve the quality of life of recovering stroke patients by encouraging memory recollection & concentration; to give them more confidence and a renewed sense of control in their day to day life, as they become more self-sufficient.

The Solution

'VITA' is an audio based system that allows recovering stroke sufferers to guide themselves through their day with the help of personalised messages, reminders and alerts; with automatic playback determined by time or location. It acts as a support system to reduce users reliance on others, to encourage independence and self-confidence, increase their safety in the home, and stimulate improved memory retention and concentration.

'Empower people who live with long term, lifestyle-related health conditions to take a greater role in managing their own care'

The Problem

Around 30% of stroke survivors suffer from memory and concentration issues in some form, which can be extremely debilitating; making simple tasks very difficult and leading to feelings of frustration, vulnerability, and a lack of independence. 

The Opportunity

To improve the quality of life of recovering stroke patients by encouraging memory recollection & concentration; to give them more confidence and a renewed sense of control in their day to day life, as they become more self-sufficient.

The Solution

'VITA' is an audio based system that allows recovering stroke sufferers to guide themselves through their day with the help of personalised messages, reminders and alerts; with automatic playback determined by time or location. It acts as a support system to reduce users reliance on others, to encourage independence and self-confidence, increase their safety in the home, and stimulate improved memory retention and concentration.

'Empower people who live with long term, lifestyle-related health conditions to take a greater role in managing their own care'

The Problem

Around 30% of stroke survivors suffer from memory and concentration issues in some form, which can be extremely debilitating; making simple tasks very difficult and leading to feelings of frustration, vulnerability, and a lack of independence. 





The Opportunity

To improve the quality of life of recovering stroke patients by encouraging memory recollection & concentration; to give them more confidence and a renewed sense of control in their day to day life, as they become more self-sufficient.

The Solution

'VITA' is an audio based system that allows recovering stroke sufferers to guide themselves through their day with the help of personalised messages, reminders and alerts; with automatic playback determined by time or location. It acts as a support system to reduce users reliance on others, to encourage independence and self-confidence, increase their safety in the home, and stimulate improved memory retention and concentration.

THE PROCESS

Secondary Research 

My initial secondary research around long term health conditions led to strokes being identified as a focal point, with further exploration within this area to develop a greater understanding of strokes, their causes, the resulting health conditions sufferers can face and how these are treated. 

Secondary Research 

My initial secondary research around long term health conditions led to strokes being identified as a focal point, with further exploration within this area to develop a greater understanding of strokes, their causes, the resulting health conditions sufferers can face and how these are treated. 


This identified four major associated health problems that could be targeted with a new design solution:

This identified four major associated health problems that could be targeted with a new design solution:

  • Tiredness, fatigue and pain
  • Communication and speech
  • Memory and thinking
  • Movement and balance

Existing products that are available to people suffering fro these health problems were then evaluated to identify their strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities for improvement; as I wanted to have a clear view of what is currently available to people and where a new product might fit within the market. 

PRIMARY RESEARCH 

My main aim during primary research was to use peoples personal experiences to gain a deeper understanding of the effects a stroke has on them, both directly after it happens and throughout the recovery process, to identify where and how a new product could be most effective. 

The Charnwood Stroke Club 

The Charnwood Stroke Club meets twice a week in Loughborough, to give long term support for people who have suffered strokes; in a "friendly and social meeting place". The club provides competitions, films, slideshows, speaker and outings, while also giving a break to carers, and was integral to ensuring the project tackled real difficulties faced by stroke sufferers in a suitable and effective way. 

Screen Shot 2018-02-22 at 21.59.14

I was able to interview a number of regular club members, taking each persons individual experience and using it to build a wider understanding of three key areas: 

Stroke & Recovery Process:

  • The stroke and its causes
  • Resulting health conditions
  • Therapies and treatments
  • Hospital vs Home 

Task & Interaction Issues:

  • Difficult tasks 
  • Travel issues
  • Routine changes
  • New/old hobbies

Personal Life:

  • Outlook on life
  • View of self/confidence
  • Relationships with others
  • Public perception 

Key Insights  

Primary research carried out at the Charnwood Stroke Club led me to generate 6 key insights, surrounding strokes, their causes, and the rehabilitation process that people go through:

key insight 1

Impact of Memory Loss:

Poor memory has a very wide impact on all aspects of day to day life, from basic tasks to their own self-confidence.

key insight 3

Impact of Diet:

Diet is hugely important, following a stroke, in order to reduce the chances of it happening again and aid the recovery process. 

key insight 5

Task Simplification:

Multi-step tasks offer particular difficulties for stroke sufferers with memory and concentration issues and would need to be simplified.

key insight 2

Interest Retention:

Concentration issues means anything with user interface will be very difficult to use and needs to retain their interest.

key insight 4

Bringing it into the Home:

Bringing therapy into the users own home, rather than a hospital, would be beneficial especially for those who have limited mobility.

key insight 6

Sensory Triggers:

Sensory triggers, such as sound, smell, touch and taste, could be utilised within the design to stimulate memory recollection.

THE PROBLEM 

With over 1.2 million survivors currently living in the UK, a stroke is the leading cause of adult disability where over half of sufferers are left dependant on others for some level of care.  Around 30% of these suffer from memory and concentration issues in some form, which can be extremely debilitating; making simple tasks very difficult and leading to feelings of frustration, vulnerability, and a lack of independence. 

THE OPPORTUNITY

To improve the quality of life of recovering stroke patients with a product that will aim to encourage memory recollection and stimulate concentration for users who otherwise struggle in these areas; to give the user confidence and a renewed sense of control in day to day life, as they become more self sufficient.

"I would go into the kitchen and put a pot of water on to boil, only to come back five minutes later and completely forget why I had done it. It made me feel a bit useless to be honest”

"I would go into the kitchen and put a pot of water on to boil, only to come back five minutes later and completely forget why I had done it. It made me feel a bit useless to be honest”

- Roy, Charnwood Stroke Club Member

IDEATION AND DEVELOPMENT 

Having identified key insights and an opportunity for a new product, I began exploring different design concepts through rough sketching, and evaluated these through testing with potential users - leading to a chosen concept.  

Initial Concepts 

The initial ideation process focused on generating a large number of different concepts and ideas that tackled the problem in a variety of ways. These ranged from step-by-step guides for tasks such as cooking, sensory trigger systems in the home, interactive daily planners and audio reminders to guide the user through their day. 

These concepts were then evaluated against the insights highlighted through research, considering their key strengths and weaknesses, to identify which would be most suitable for the project focus. This led to a proposed concept being selected:

"A product to allow users to record their thoughts and reminders throughout the day, specific to their location around the house, promoting a sense of self-sufficiency and allowing them to complete daily tasks without forgetting."

Developing the Idea 

Having selected an idea to take forward, I began sketching some more defined variations of how the product might look. The key focus behind this process was to start to visualise:

  • Feature definition - (what it will do and how will it do it?)
  • Form and style - (visual appearance/design direction)
  • Location of use - (wrist/hand/neck/standalone?)
  • Usability and accessibility - (specific user controls/interaction points)

Additional Research  

To aid this development process, I did some additional research into visual form to help me find a suitable style for the product, its function and the people who would be using it. This led me to Elsa Paretti jewellery - simple, organic, fluid and understated forms that I felt replicated the type of characteristics I wanted the final design to have. 

elsa paretti jewellery

Early Prototyping and Testing

I took some of the basic designs I had generated and modelled them in card before carrying out some basic user testing. The focus behind this exercise was to answer some key questions about the designs ease of use, and how this is impacted by its form and user interaction points. Participants were asked:

  • How easy is it to hold?
  • How comfortable is it?
  • How accessible are the buttons?
  • How easy are the buttons to operate?
  • How easy is it to speak into?
  • Which location is most suitable?

REFINING THE CONCEPT

Following on from the card prototyping, I refined the concept further; implementing improvements, developing user scenarios, defining a final design direction and visual style, and testing some final models with users to iron out any final problems. 

Changes and Improvements 

The initial testing process identified the limitations of each design, and therefore led to more sketched development to refine the shape and implement the necessary improvements, along with a finalised moodboard to inform the shape and style of the design. 

Experience Protoyping 

This helped me narrow down the designs into three final forms, which were modelled in blue foam and used to experience prototype with members of the stroke club. The aim here was to select a design to develop further, explore button placement and ultimately see how the users interacted with each shape. During this process, participants were asked a series of questions about each model:

  • Which design is easiest to hold and use? 
  • Which button design/method is the best?
  • How is each one held by each person?
  • Would you change any button/feature locations?
  • Which design do you prefer?
  • Which concept is best to be developed? 

This experience protoyping activity helped me select a final design, and identified some minor alterations in response to the participants feedback; ready for CAD modelling the final design. Some final, more detailed sketching on the chosen design concept focused on:

  • Sleek design to fit in the hand comfortably
  • Definition of speaker and button locations
  • User interaction with buttons and form
  • Charging base - form and functional controls

User Journeys

Some basic user journeys were also roughly sketched, to help me visualise some different scenarios of use, and highlight the potential advantages and benefits that the product would provide the user. 

1

THE SOLUTION

'VITA' is an audio based system that allows recovering stroke sufferers to guide themselves through their day with the help of personalised messages, reminders and alerts - encouraging independence and self-confidence, increasing their safety in the home, and stimulating improved memory retention and concentration.

How It Works

The device consists of two buttons, a speaker and a microphone. The button used to record messages is located around inside of the hole at the front of the device, this means the user can record a message by pressing anywhere around the inside edge of the hole. 

Screen Shot 2018-03-06 at 09.48.25

Having recorded a message the side button is used to cycle through time delay options. The user can choose the message to play back in 5, 10, 15, 20 or 30 minutes, or when the device returns to the location at which the message was recorded - ensuring that users won't forget about various things they plan to do throughout the day. 

The device links to the induction charging base by bluetooth and is connected to the house's wifi system so that it knows where in the house the device is when messages are recorded. The charging base is powered by mains electricity and has five controls; play, pause, skip message, save message and play saved messages.

Scenario of Use

  1. After waking up the user can replay previous saved messages, to remind them of key information.
  2. A simple pull down motion on the device starts recording, and a time delay of their choice is set.
  3. After the allotted time the device alerts the user and repeats the recorded message.
  4. Location based messages can also be recorded; which play when the user enters a specific room.
  5. Before going to sleep the user can replay their days messages, reminding them what they did.
  6. Important and favourite messages can then be saved and played back when required.
Screen Shot 2018-03-06 at 10.05.16

Key Features

IDS 3.4

Ergonomic Shape:

The shape of the device and its lanyard makes holding and operating the device easy, especially for users with dexterity issues.

Instant Recording:

Users are able to record their thoughts, plans, reminders or messages throughout the day, easily and quickly.

Message Playback Delay:

The user can set the message to replay by time or location, ensuring they don't forget any tasks or things they want to do during the day.

Personalisation:

Important messages or favourite thoughts can be saved and replayed separately, for longer term memories.

 

Storage Hub:

The charging base can store the days messages, allowing the user to relive their day through the things they've recorded. 

 

Induction Charging Base:

The device induction charges through its base and doesn't need plugging in, again making it easier for users with limited dexterity.

IDS 2.2

Automated Process:

The automated recording process saves time, ensuring thoughts wont be forgotten before they can be recorded, as opposed to users writing thoughts and reminders in a diary as they currently might.

Automated Process:

The automated recording process saves time, ensuring thoughts wont be forgotten before they can be recorded, as opposed to users writing thoughts and reminders in a diary as they currently might.

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IDS 3

Key Advantages and Benef i t s

Automated Process:

The automated recording process saves time, ensuring thoughts wont be forgotten before they can be recorded, as opposed to users writing thoughts and reminders in a diary as they currently might - something they are far more likely to forget. 






Timed/Location Alerts:

Being able to set recorded messages to play back after a certain amount of time, or when the user returns to a specific room, provides an added safety aspect. This will ensure appliances won't be left on by accident if the user forgets about them, giving them a further level of independence and safety. 





Memory Consolidation:

Hearing information just before going to sleep has been proven to to enhance memory consolidation from short term to long term. Therefore being able to replay messages using the storage hub, users can relive their day before they go to sleep and when they wake up; encouraging this process. 

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IDS 1
vita

Project Date: 8th October 2015 - 18th January 2016
Project Team: Solo Project