In the Easing the Street aka Homeless studio, we all had the same goal: to design and create a device that would make being homeless either in or outside of the shelter easier. We visited a homeless shelter in the beginning of the week, and talked to several people who work closely with homeless people. Homeless shelters are incredibly helpful and important, but visiting made it clear that homeless people lose their autonomy there. For example, there were extremely strict restrictions on when people were allowed to come and leave, how much they could eat, what they could do while at the shelter, etc.
Our team came together and knew that we wanted to focus on giving homeless people their autonomy back. After a few days of brainstorming, diagramming, mocking-up, and discussion, we decided to work on a sensory replacement/modification helmet that would give the user the ability to replace 3/5 of their senses (sight, hearing, and scent). Our final project did accomplish this through using: a viewing port with adjustable filters, a small tray placed directly underneath the viewing port that could insert any scent, and a 3-piece plastic ear cavern that replicates the sound of the ocean.
This was a thought-provoking project not only in that it straddled the line between conceptual and practical, but there were deeper layers behind our intent as well as our final product. Yes, our entire aim was to give homeless people autonomy through giving them control of their immediate surroundings. But we still end up being the ones dictating what their choices were.
Our project, Coach Comfort, is a simple way to provide a better atmosphere in coach seating on a plane. More specifically, our project acts as a headrest that doubles as a tray table that folds down. Coach Comfort also offers the passenger a good amount of privacy while flying, which is something that is quite hard to come by nowadays, especially on airplanes. Our project keeps things simple but effecient in common problems such as; space, comfort, and accessability.
The main problem that Coach Comfort solves is actaully quite a well-known one. About 1.3 million people fly in coach class seats in the United States everyday, and almost every passenger knows the discomfort of sitting in coach seating. The passenger lacks leg room, a place to rest their head, and any sort of privacy. We decided that the most prominent problem out of these were the lack of a headrest and the lack of privacy. Our project easily fixes both of these problems in one simple motion. The conveniently placed head rest doubles as a wall for privacy and an easilly accessable tray table, which folds up and down swiftly, that also has a lock to keep it upright when the passenger is using it as a headrest..
Coach Comfort is a very important project because it fixes a problem that is well known around the world. It is only the beggining of what could be countless numbers of innovations that change the way we fly in the future. Part of the reason that this innivative idea doesn't already exist is that it seems like an impossible task to take on, escpecially considering the limited space in coach. We though of another innovation for coach which includes a small drawer under your seat that you could put larger personal belongings, like a backpack. This would provide more leg room, more comfort, and a more visually appealing area. In a world where everyone is flying and the ability to travel fast is becoming more important, shouldn't we be able to add in more comfort?
Peter: If we were to take this project further and actually implement it into airplanes some serious reconstruction would need to be done on what we currently have. When making this our main objective was to create a well-made prototype that allowed people to see the movement and overall concept of our idea. The final product would have to be reshaped, resurfaced with different materials, and encase the electronics for tv controls.
As we started the brainstorming process we all had a lot of different ideas. We started with an idea of making furniture of of recycled items however we quickly scrapped this idea. We moved on to thinking about how we could improve furniture from a functional perspective. We started thinking about fixing the nuvu chairs and making the ideal nuvu chair. We explored the idead of stackable chairs with lots of pockets and a much cleaner raising and lowering system. We worked with a few coaches to start exploring current designs for furniture usability. While exploring this we started to realize a few things; The first being what we want for Nuvu chairs has been done thousands of times, the second being that we wanted to conquer a problem that is more important and has more attention worldwide. Once again we were back to brainstorming. We tried to think of things that everyone does involving furniture and thought about how uncomfartable flying in coach class on an airplane is.
The first thing we did with airplane seats was to think of all the problems and their specifics. We identified a few clear ones extremely fast; Lack of a comfartable place to put your head, Legroom, and privacy. We started thinking about those problems in specific and what we could do to fix them. At this point we realized that to truly create a sollution for coach seating we would need to set guidelines for ourselves. We decided that it would be important to build within the existing structures of the current coach seating system. If we wanted to build something that could actually be used we would not be able alter the amount of seats or the spacing that already exists in coach. To do this we realized that we would have to create something that doubled for multiple airplane features as well as our new innovations.
Our first idea was to create a tray table that doubled as a headrest and privacy curtain. We took this idea and ran with it. We started by creating thinking about two things, the headrest itself, as well as the sliding and turning mechanism for the headrest and tray table. Our first itteration was simply a tray table that had hooks on it, The user would be able to slide the tray to one side and than up. After making this first itteration we noticed that it's usability was not up to par theirfore making it more of a nuisance than something that would add comfort.
When thinking about the second itteration we decided to focus on it's usability. We started the exploring the idea of a tray table that would simply slide up on poles and than once it reached a certain point the poles would hinge and it would be a tray table. Unfortunatley to do this we realized we would have to have poles that extended much to high for it to work well. Although we did not use this itteration I still would consider it a sucess because it gave us a landmark for how we wanted the table/headrest to slide.
After talking about the 2nd iteration with a few coaches we came up with an idea for our table/headrest to come out of the armrest. We came up with a simple set of tracks that would guide the inside box onto a rotating piece of the track. We created a pin system that could lock the table/headrest in multiple different positions. The problem with this itteration was that we felt pins were too complicated. We wanted to stay true to our ideas about simplicity.
For our third and final itteration we started brainstorming on what worked and what did not. We liked having our table/headrest coming our of the armrest and decided that would be the best place to base it off. At this point we also decided that we should focus on the asthetics of our project more than it's functionality. However this meant in no way that we would forget about that aspect. For our third itteration we designed a box that came out of the armrest. When the user would pull this box up he would first have only a headrest but than he could pull the headrest out and it would become a tray table. Although this was our final itteration if we had more time we would most likely create a way for the user to have his/her headrest available at the same time as his/her tray table.
I always wished to have a cup holder to carry my drinks from the kitchen to my room and my food while I am sitting in front of the TV. There was nothing on the internet or Amazon. As the saying goes, “on top of every mountain there is a pathway.” NuVu was at the end of my pathway. With their help, the Universal Arm was invented. We are now way ahead of the competition.
The Universal Arm is an external arm that is made specifically for people in wheelchairs. For now it only works with the brand Quickie type wheelchairs. The arm is totally custom made from the ground up. It is easy to attach and detach. It was originally made to hold a tray for food, but as the process continued we added new parts so it is useful when not used for holding a tray. The Arm itself can hold pen, pencil, grocery bags, and have a place to be used as a wallet.
Three different arm was created. Each arm was unique in its own ways. The last is always the best. The problem with the first one was that it had three different hinges. The hinges were made to rotate the tray and place it on the side. Since there was not enough space on the side of my wheelchair, there was no need for the hinges. The issue with the second design was the diameter inside the tube. It was hard to slide it onto my wheelchair arm. There was also some unnecessary holes on the first par of the Universal Arm. To fix this problem was easy. I went back to the sketch and made the necessary changes. I increased the diameter by 5 mm and deleted the holes that I didn't need.
The new and final Universal Arm, at least for now, looks very strong. It is very easy to slide it on the arm. There are two parts for it because you can take it out and put it on your back pack when your not using it. There are also screw holes to adjust it, so you can rotate it to the side. The Universal Arm is not just an arm, it is a piece of art.
We will improve the arm to work with all kinds of wheelchairs. For now we are taking it one step at a time. We want this model to be as strong and useful as possible. When we are totally satisfied and like using it, then we will move forward.