What it does
‘Get a Grip!’ consists of three devices to make everyday tasks easier for those with arthritis:
• Assisting with squeezing bottles.
• Converting a top button into an easier side-squeeze.
• Opening packaging easily when out and about.
I was inspired by wanting to help my friend’s mother who has experienced a decline in her dexterity over the last few years, and struggles with everyday tasks. Despite this, she is reluctant to resort to assistive devices, which make her feel old. The uptake of assistive devices in 50-70 year olds is extremely poor, largely due to the aesthetics of existing design solutions. I conducted interviews with users with varying levels of dexterity issues and identified common challenges they faced, and looked for design solutions for the top three issues I identified. Namely squeezing bottles, opening packaging and operating push buttons.
How it works
The home hub is a storage point for the three devices which have over-moulded TPU handles to make them easy to grip.
1) This device wraps around a bottle (e.g. shampoo) and squeezes it at the turn of a handle. It has a quick release mechanism to allow the user to stop squeezing instantly when they have got the desired amount. It uses a suction cup so that the bottle can be mounted on a wall instead of held. A small and large device are provided to cater for different bottle sizes.
2) This device makes bottles (e.g. deodorant) easier to grip and transforms the top button to a side squeeze using simple linkages. The device makes bottles much easier to hold and press using the whole hand, instead of just one digit.
3) This device can be used to open packaging both in the home and out and about. It contains a small spring-loaded inset blade to easily open packaging without the danger of cutting skin, and can be attached to a keyring so that it is easily portable.
This project used a human-centred design approach, along with critical and participatory design methods to ensure that users are at the centre of the design solution. The Design Council’s Double Diamond was used as a framework throughout the project, as it goes hand-in-hand with human-centred design by encouraging consideration of all aspects of the consumer. A thorough literature review was conducted over the course of the project, and was used alongside primary research to inform all design decisions. Users and key stakeholders were involved throughout the design process, and feedback on concepts was gathered regularly to ensure the designs met their needs and desires. Due to COVID-19, I have been unable to access workshops to make working prototypes, but plan to make these when possible. Instead I explored materials and made low-fidelity prototypes that helped gauge size and form; these were then developed using sketching and CAD modelling. Concept renders and storyboards were used to communicate how the designs worked, which helped users understand the concepts without physical models and allowed feedback to be collected via phone/ email. This feedback was then used to inform further design development.
How is it different?
‘Get a Grip’ provides solutions to three common issues encountered by those with limited dexterity in one place. Each of the three devices has been designed alongside users, unlike existing assistive devices which are designed without user input, and are based on often incorrect assumptions about the user. ‘Get a Grip’s functionality has been developed to suit 50-70 year olds, a younger age group than traditional assistive devices aimed at age 70+. ‘Get a Grip’ disrupts the visual stereotypes of assistive products, which look clinical and are described as ‘brown, beige and boring’ (MIT Technology Review), which creates a barrier between the user and product. Instead, a fun and vibrant purple with sleek white gloss and a pop of yellow make the devices feel stylish and ageless. Through branding and style, ‘Get a Grip’ challenges society’s stigma around disabilities and portrays users as the active and able people that they are.
I plan to create working prototypes which will be used to conduct user testing amongst a focus group, and the design will then be refined and developed based on feedback. ‘Get a Grip’ is largely injection moulded with off-the-shelf components to keep costs down, but quotes for specific parts and manufacturing routes will need to be explored. A marketing plan will also be created, using social media and non-disability specific retailers to reach users who would otherwise not seek out assistive devices. In the future, the product range could be expanded to contain products to assist with different tasks for a variety of disabilities.