A collaboration with Guy’s & St Thomas’ Trust
An individual University project to design a device that aids people with hand weakness in unlocking doors. Wokring in collaboration with Guy’s & St Thomas’ Trust (GSTT), the focus was to remove the stigma so often linked to disability aids and develop a solution desirable both to those with and without hand weakness.
Taking a user-centred approach to the project I met regularly with patients suffering from hand weakness caused by neuromuscular disorders and ran a co-design workshop with a local youth group. I also observed numerous people interact with my prototypes to ensure that they were simple, intuitive and easy to use.
From quick foam models exploring the ergonomics of form, to detailed functional models analysing the mechanism, this project involved many stages of prototyping. These models also enabled me to clearly communicate my ideas to the client.
Not having hand weakness myself made it very difficult to gauge the effectiveness of my concepts. To solve this I used arthritis simulation gloves, taped up my joints and also submerged my hands in ice water to replicate symptoms and better compare concepts.
Research into materials lead to the big breakthrough in this project. The most important aspect, equal to actually offering aid to the user, was designing an acceptable product. People young and old with a debilitating condition, especially one that isn’t visably obvious, do not wish to carry a label saying ‘disabled’. By making the device from leather, the Key Hub echos many commonly carried and regularly used products including a wallet, key purse or handbag. Fitting in with this family of products changes the Key Hub from a disabilty aid to a smart desirable carriable.
The Key Hub: final prototypes. The three key and one key version with possible packaging design.