Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Laura Short recently discussed a collaborative project among UW-Stout industrial design students, St. Thomas engineering students, and DesignWise Medical with Noah Norton, assistant professor of industrial design.

Laura Short: Can you tell me more about your collaborative project with DesignWise Medical and St. Thomas engineering students?

Noah Norton: The idea behind this project was to create designs for an alternative way to deliver oxygen to children ages 0-6 while they slept. The current way is either taping hoses to their faces or strapping masks to them. Both of these are undesirable solutions that create bad experiences for the children and parents. Ann Gettys, founder of the chILD Foundation (children’s interstitial Lung Disease) came up with the idea of a hood that would deliver oxygen to the child in a less obtrusive way. She created a prototype out of a kid’s tent and some hoses; the OPOD idea was born. She has been working with Brad Slaker, founder of the non-profit company DesignWise Medical. They

have been engineering solutions with St Thomas since September. We were mainly concerned with the experience-end of things: interaction, cleaning, piece of mind. The students came up with a wide array of solutions that really pushed the boundaries of what was expected. We figured out a way to eliminate the wasteful use of many feet of disposable tubing, among other things.

LS: How many industrial design students were involved?
NN: Eight. Linnea Londborg, Hans Neilsen, Steve Lambert, Grayson Smith, Jennifer Seward, Jenny Byrd, Ben Heard, and Dave Keyes

LS: What were the ID students’ role(s)?
NN: Make the product easy to use for parents: easy to assemble, disassemble, clean, access bed sheets, tell that it is working correctly; make it fool proof. For the children: make it “non-medical,” take the fear away, give them piece of mind and relief. We were also looking at ways to make it more efficient.

LS: What was the result of the project?
NN: The prototypes are now being considered for further refinement and eventual production. One will be chosen and worked on more, engineered, etc.

LS: Will a prototype be available at the senior show?
NN: I am not sure yet. This is a junior project and I do not want to step on toes…

LS: Who started the collaboration? DesignWise Medical?
NN: Brad Slaker from DesignWise Medical contacted us over Xmas Break. We had a few meetings and came to an agreement.

LS: How did Stout become involved?
NN: Brad came to a design senior show in the fall and decided to contact us.

LS: What is the possibility the product will go to market?
NN: Positive thus far. There is still refinement, but I believe that is the plan.

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