The day started with a frenetic pace and energy as people were rushing around setting up 3D printers, organising work areas, storing all the food and most importantly, boiling the water for tea and coffee.
By 10 am we were ready for our debrief. Mel and Johan made the formal introductions and set the tone for the rest of the day. Our focus was on the user and the user alone. It’s a design practice known as human-centered design. Where the design or idea begins around the needs of the people we’re designing for. They’re the inspiration for every idea we generate and the results are judged on whether the design answers their needs.
The team was already in high spirits and we couldn’t hide our excitement when our friends with disabilities began to arrive. A collection of industry experts sat around each person and spent some serious time getting to know each individual and their needs. The engineers were curious about every little detail asking a lot of questions surrounding factors such as:
- simple /complex
- novel /serious
- height and position
- comfort levels
- tastes / preferences
- general activities
- strength and dexterity
We watched and observed the finer movements as each person negotiated their way around our brutal outdoor obstacle course consisting of foldable chairs and pot holes revealing details on the grip during different situations. Other tests even included a barbeque spatula but let’s not go there…
Our engineers gained insights that allowed them to immediately develop ideas on the spot. Using plasticine they began modelling different prototypes directly on the joystick shaft, consulting with each user and occupational therapist for instant feedback.
Once we got to a concept that the user felt happy with, the 3D printers immediately went to work. The rapid prototyping meant we could create the product on the spot, test it and then make any necessary adjustments based on the user’s feedback. Some designs were amended while others were an immediate hit.
We look at each individual case below.
Case Study: Dan