From the two ideas discussed in Domains and Precedents, I continued with the idea that had a personal impetus and allowed me to explore a field of recent interest.
Before diving into prototyping, it was essential to understand the focus area and identify crucial domains for research. The process began with learning what is meant by low back pain, why is it an area of concern and what are its causes and remedies.
The interesting or surprising thing was that a “mundane” low back pain could result in a serious health condition or disability. This made it important to understand what was meant by a disability and how reducing back pain could potentially avoid serious conditions. Another question was the role of wearables in improving different abilities. After preliminary research, four main domains were identified with sub-domains for further emphasis within those fields.
As an individual, I felt the need for a fashionable wearable that provided immediate relief to real time back pain. The current medical aids appear bulky and give the feeling of isolation in a crowd. There was a need for a wearable that would blend easily in a crowd while providing relief as well.
The idea was to test this belief with other people. For the same reason, a primary source of research, a questionnaire was created.
As part of researching on low back, some available wearables for aid were identified.
There are common prototypes of different kinds of belts and pillows or back rests for back support and the heating bags or cooling packs.
More specific wearables are recent introductions like TruPosture, TENS and Quell. TENS and Quell are good examples of technology used to ease muscle pain. While TENS is applicable to any part of the body, Quell is focused on back pain. But Quell is wearable band on the leg and does not blend in with everyday attire.
On the other hand, TruPosture acts as a precedent as it is focused on back posture. It does not ease real time pain and instead improves muscle memory over a longer period.
To further research, there was a phone conversation with Jason Rizzo. He is an ABC certified Prosthetist/Orthotist. He has over 15 years’ experience working in Orthotics and Prosthetics and is passionate about creating devices that enable his patients to be as independent and active as possible. He is currently working at Rogerson Orthotics and Prosthetics in Boston.
When talking to Jason, two words were highlighted during the conversation, ‘stability’ and ‘compression’. He emphasized the need for low back stability by reducing the back’s range of motion through compression.
Taking inspiration from existing belts for back support, the sketch was to envision how the brace could be enclosed in a formal attire. It was about incorporating the construction pattern of a back belt in to an everyday attire.