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Summary

Osteoarthritis is a prevalent degenerative bone disease that affects a significant portion of the population. While there is no known cure, exercise has been shown to alleviate its symptoms. However, engaging people in exercise outside of the rehabilitation center can be challenging, especially for elderly individuals.

To address this issue, I developed "Path Finder", a game tailored to elderly consumers to encourage hand exercises. This drawing tool incorporates features and movements commonly used in rehabilitation, offering a balance between creative freedom and guidance.

Role

Research & Design

Date

Jun - Dec 2019

Methodology

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Market
Research

Interviews

Ergonomy
Study

Prototyping

Weight
Criteria

2D-3D
Brainstorming

Usability
Testing

 Research  
This project included in-depth literature and a market study. I got both inspiration and knowledge about the problem and the available solutions.

 Ideation  
I generated multiple ideas and evaluated them against the predetermined criteria, ultimately selecting the most suitable solution.

 Evaluation  

This led to the creation of a final prototype, which I tested with real users in collaboration with the Geriatric Institute of Valencia.

Age does not make us worse, it makes us different

During my research, I focused on the target group and the challenges they face. I conducted open interviews with elderly individuals to gain insights into their health and preferences.

The Elderly and their uniqueness​​

  • Age brings about various common conditions, including visual and hearing impairments, as well as decreased psychomotor abilities.

  • Desirable solutions should fit the elder's physiological abilities, self-image, and cultural values.

  • Products should be perceived as safe.

Hand Osteoarthritis and its challenges

  • ​This condition is caused involves the reduction of cartilage in the joints, causing pain.

  • This problem often appears in the hands, making them ache and change form.

  • Although exercises can slow down degeneration, consistency doing the training is a challenge for many.

Hand
Hand
Hand
Hand
Hand
Hand
Hand

Market Research

Help to many, offered by none

The elderly own substantial free time. To contribute to making their time enjoyable, I decided to create a game that would playfully encourage their hand rehabilitation.

Through market research, I discovered a gap in the availability of products that cater to the needs of the elderly. Existing options either neglect this demographic or are bulky and unappealing, leading the elderly to avoid using them due to feeling labeled as old and fragile.

Elderly assistance scooter
Modern assistance scooter

As Don Norman said for FastCompany:

"Designers and companies of the world, you are badly serving an ever-growing segment of your customer base, a segment that you too will one day inhabit. Isn’t it time to reform: to make things that are functional and stylish, useable and accessible?

The research phase concluded with a set of 20 design requirements, each assigned weights based on their perceived relevance.

Graph weight design criteria

Ideation

To materialize my vision in terms of functionality and style, I created moodboards as sources of inspiration. I drafted 27 concepts after brainstorming in 2D (paper) and 3D (clay). These ideas were diverse and unique. Employing the weight criteria, I identified the concept with the highest potential.

Moodboard

A drawing tool with pre-defined paths that integrates rehabilitation movements.

Layer drawing of a penguin
Ergonomy calculations

I tested the idea to improve its playability, ergonomy, and aesthetic design. For the final concept, I paid careful attention to the dimensions, the lightness, softness, and color contrast of the materials.

This is how the final design works.

Step 1 - Setting

Step 2 - Decision

The user sits down and places the drawing base within comfortable reach. A sheet of paper is inserted into the tray and then introduced into the bottom compartment.

The product offers two game modes. One involves following a pre-defined order of layers to create a drawing, while the other allows for an artistic approach.

Step 3 - Execution

To start, the user attaches the drawing tool to a ball of their hand size. They then insert the chosen plank in the upper compartment and the drawing tool into the path.

Renders of the final prototype

The goal was to amuse the user while encouraging specific hand movements. For the final assessment, I collaborated with an elder daycare center in Valencia, Spain. 

Graph on the test set up
Test 1
Test 2
Test 3

Results & impact of the project

The results showed that initially, users lacked confidence in their ability to complete the task. However, upon achieving success, they experienced a sense of accomplishment. The tool was easy to use and comprehend after one explanation and with no external assistance. The prototype raised high interest among physician caregivers in the geriatric. I remained in contact for a follow-up of the project.

Reflections and next steps

Upon reflection, if I were to redo the project, I would conduct more extensive research involving a larger number of users and experts. Additionally, I would implement earlier prototyping stages in the process.

The design of the planks requires additional testing to ensure their resistance to the force applied by elder participants when placed on the path. Furthermore, a more comprehensive follow-up is necessary to assess the product's impact on rehabilitation and engagement.

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