Time: 8 weeks
Tools: People Centered Research, Co-Creation Sessions, Prototyping,
Physical Computing, six Pressure Sensors (Conductive Fabric &
Velostat), Arduino, Processing, Illustrator, GUI, Click-through
Prototype, Video-Prototyping, Premiere Pro, After Effects
Task: Final Project
Advisor: Jakob Bak - Designer
Peer Schmidtke - Physiotherapist
Vivify is a tool for self-responsible individual training that picks people up at their level and helps them to reach their goals in a progressive, successful and enjoyable way.
This product system is made for people with physical health issues caused by unhealthy relationships to their bodies.
Linked to an app, the exercise program is composed by physiotherapists to fit the patient's individual needs to best support them on their way back to a permanently healthy and pain-free routine. An interactive mat helps patients to progress slowly and execute the exercises correctly by real-time visual and audio feedback.
How It Works
Six pressure sensors in the mat can function as a personal trainer and give you real time feedback on your position. The app shows the user which exercise to do and can then track if the person is ready to let the time run or the get the repetitions counted. The sensors due to the information the doctor feeds into the system (height, length of specific body parts, weight, diagnostic findings, specifics) know if the user e.g. in the plank position has his/her elbows in a right angle to her body or not. Besides the position the sensors can also track which direction the user is putting force on their body parts from and easily count the repetitions. It is not only helpful for the user himself to get individual real time feedback and see their own progress, but it is also essentiell for the app to know the users body ability and progress to rearrange exercises in a way that best suits the user.
Focus On The Positive
The app allows patients to choose a goal out of a pre-composed exercise program from the doctor. This gives back the control and the responsibility to the patient.
At first sight it seems a little bit absurd to choose a complex yoga pose, but it allows the user to outgrow themselves and change the perception they have of themselves as being a patient by rewarding themselves by being able to do something they were not able to do before. When I asked people what they would like to be able to do with their body during the interview, many responses (female as well as male) were talking about "the splits", "hold a hand stand" or "acro-yoga". An elderly woman (65 years old) said that she would love to be able to close her shoes again standing on one foot without having to lean again something.
Allowing the user to choose a goal themselves allows them to focus on a positive future aim rather than trying to get rid of pain is an important feature of this system.
How To Get Vivify
As Vivify is a product system especially developed for people with physical health issues, I imagine it to be part of a service. The patient goes to therapy where the doctor collects diagnostic findings, indifferences, specifics and body characteristics such as height and weight. After the treatment the patient gets introduced to the app and interactive mat by the physiotherapist who afterwards hands the mat over to the patient. The doctor feeds all relevant information into a system provided by a health insurance company to compose an exercise program that best suits the patient's individual needs.
The patients gets to choose their goal posture and exercises guiding him/her through an app.
The interactive mat helps users to progress accordingly and execute the exercises correctly. Visual and audio feedback allow them to reach their self-chosen goal at their individual speed.
My design process started with desk research and several interviews with professionals (personal trainers and physiotherapists) as well as people with different physical health issues, having to exercise at home during and beyond the therapy. My goal was to better understand the process of physiotherapy and the reason for the high number of failure in the success of the therapy.
Several design challenges and brainstormings followed from which I picked a small selection to prototype. I created a couple of low-fidelity prototypes as communication tools for the co-creation sessions and used the feedback to further iterate on my concept.
Asking several peers to execute exercises on a mat and marking the positions of people with different heights and figures allowed me to get a better understanding about where sensors need to be placed and if it is possible to create a universal mat. Surprisingly everybody positioned themselves centric so that a clear body shape appeared.
I built six pressure sensors using two layers of conductive fabric and one layer of velostat in-between to allow Arduino to read the values. For the prototype I made Arduino communicate to processing so I could display several animations of how to execute the exercises. Finally the particular animations matching particular readings from Arduino were uploaded to the network, from which my phone pulled the information. This allowed an authentic user experience during the final exhibition.
Please find a more detailed description of the first two weeks of the process on MEDIUM