This year the Designing for the Future project with the University of Brighton produced many interesting designs for ageing. Here BSc sports product design student Arun Joshi talks about his design, Allegro which aims to reduce falls by strengthening leg muscles using music making :
“Tasked with producing a product for the ageing population meant considering many areas of lifestyle. After reading into literature and conducting primary research it became very obvious to me that an area that affects the older generations is falls. This could then be broken down further into falls being the result of immobility, and immobility being caused by weak leg muscles.
Now that a problem area had been identified it was time to come up with potential product solutions. A range of creative techniques were used such as Six Hats, in order to generate a large range of potential product solutions. In total over 30 different solutions were explored before they were gradually reduced to a handful of ideas that suited the need best. These few ideas were then filtered down to the best ideas using several shortlisting methods. This handful of the best ideas were modelled to look for potential design problem areas and were also discussed in detail with care home workers who I thought most likely to use the product.
Coming out of the Ideation stage of this project left one solution to be developed. Simply described, the product is a piano game that is useable in a group setting that improves leg strength by the participants pushing down on piano keys with their feet. The piano keys light up in a sequence, that when played produced songs well known by the intended users. In more detail, each user is given a Pedal Hub. Each Pedal Hub has two piano keys, a black key and a white key. There can be 6+ Pedal Hubs at any time that are wirelessly connected to the Central Hub. The Central Hub is positioned in the centre of the area that is being used and contains the speakers that the music is played from. It also acts as a storage box for 6 Pedal Hubs, ensuring the product does not take up a lot of space when not in use. Using the remote control it is possible for users to select the speed of the song and the song itself, as well as the volume.
The Pedal Hubs increase strength in the leg muscles through the use of compressions springs. For a user to play a piano note, they must successfully overcome the resistance of the concealed spring. The resistance provided by the compression spring on each pedal acts as a mini leg press, and as the difficulty level increases the number of repetitions per song a user has. This gradually increases leg muscle strength whilst being in a sociable and enjoyable environment.
The next stage was producing a marketing identity for the product. After brainstorming various names and branding options the name ‘ALLEGRO’ was settled on along with the tag line ‘Music for your muscles’. Allegro is an Italian musical term meaning upbeat and at a fast tempo, keeping in line with the philosophy of the product.”
For more information about Arun and his work, visit arunjoshi.wix.com/joshidesign