Bimeo Pro, Kinestica | Gigodesign

A

Project Background

The client for this project was the Slovene company Kinestica, a group of young researchers who met in a robotics laboratory and set out to create a company whose mission is to improvethe quality of life for patients with neuromotor disorders. 

They approached us with a design brief for a device that would help patients recover after suffering a stroke.

Goals and objectives

The goals of the project were aligned with the team’s mission:

  • Make rehabilitation quicker and more effective
  • Make the process and progress monitoring easier for clinical staff
  • Make the rehabilitation exercises more pleasant for patients

B

Process

Apart from the ergonomic requirements, the team also had to keep in mind the usual business aspects: the production price of the product (i.e. the price of tools, materials, etc.), and effective branding that would support the product in its differentiation from competitors.

Step 1

Desktop research

Based on the brief we researched field requirements, conditions, and the biggest problems patients and doctors are faced with regarding the similar devices and systems that are available. Comparable solutions were quite complex both in terms of use, as well as in size and shape – which posed additional problems for users (both patients and doctors).

We observed doctors and patients the way they used existing equipment and had them test some of early prototypes.

Step 2

User Research

Next step: Ask and observe the users in their environment. We spent a few days in the biggest rehabilitation facility in Slovenia, observing doctors and patients and the way they used the existing equipment. We also had them test some of our early prototypes. The findings were invaluable and, among other things, showed us:

  • Using existing rehabilitation props puts a lot of pressure on patients’ wrists
  • After a stroke, one side of the body is more severely damaged, so patients use their healthy hand to help maneuver the other one
  • Many patient’s fingers are either clenched tightly or loose and numb, which makes it hard or impossible to grab onto something very defined and complex in shape
  • After a while therapy becomes monotonous and patients lose motivation for further practice and improvement
  • The facilities are short on staff so one doctor/staff personnel has to supervise, help, and coordinate a large group of patients

Within six months period of rapid prototyping. testing and improving starting concept the shape changed from a joystick to a sphere.

Step 3

Product Development & Rapid Prototyping

Armed with new insight we returned to our studio and started working on a solution: a prop that would be easy to set up, versatile in terms of different training modes, easy for patients to grab and hold on to, and easy on their wrists.

When designing a product designated to be held and handled by people, especially ones with disabilities and challenges, functionality, e.g. the ease of handling, must be at the center of the design process.

Making numerous styrofoam or 3D printed prototypes in all stages of the development process enabled quick testing and timely alterations in form and size. This process also led to one of the biggest breakthroughs in the project: a drastic change in the shape from a “joystick” to a sphere.

C

Results

Our design research project resulted in 22 different short-term improvement areas and 21 identified innovation opportunities both for mid- and long-term R&D. We mapped out the opportunities according to estimated time & investment requirements. By uncovering improvement and innovation opportunities, we’ve helped the client define the direction for future innovation and differentiation based on real stakeholder benefits.