Goal: Encourage consistent brace-wearing habits while minimizing discomfort in young boys and girls. Put power in the patient’s pocket to keep them motivated and informed about their treatment plan.
Goal: Send weekly reports to doctors, wirelessly, instead of waiting months for in-person appointments. Keep doctors in the loop with real time information about treatment effectiveness.
Goal: Enable brace-wear monitoring to help encourage young patients to grow brace-wearing habit. See real-time information about their child, to know they’re doing alright.
Process - Ideation
The Rapid Prototyping of Computer Systems team spent significant time interviewing the patient, her parents, and multiple brace makers and doctors to first contextualize the design process. It became clear that the scoliosis brace industry required a paradigm shift in order to encourage brace wear, especially since young children were the most afflicted patient group. The biggest challenge was to first understand the mechanics of scoliosis and its treatments, to understand how to maximize comfort in novel ways.
Storyboard & User Personas
We created personas for our users, and storyboarded use cases for possible new innovations. We walked through a number of scenarios, boiling down the essential functions and flows, and eventually white-boarded rough sketches of the application and brace.
I proposed the idea of a pneumatic brace architecture, with soft fabric inflated by air bladders to 3-5 PSI. This was a similar pressure profile that hard, plastic braces achieved - except this brace was comfortable. This system was multi-faceted, spanning 3 teams: hardware, front end, and backend. From the hardware angle, an airbag was accompanied with a pressure sensor, controlled by the I/O of an Arduino micro-controller. All of this is sent to the phone over a Bluetooth Low Energy connection, and then piped to cloud storage for processing.
Hardware + Software
The main challenge was to ensure that software could actually control and monitor the brace pressure, wirelessly, in real time. A mobile application was developed with Cordova, and linked to the Arduino controller running the brace. We mapped the pressure sensors to a 7x15 pressure sensor array, sown into the brace. Applied pressure could then be visualized and color graded solely from the app.