SEAS Design Team Begins to Dream (of Designs)- Eliza Martin

It’s been an exciting week for the SEAS Design Team. Less than a week ago, the design team went on a field trip to examine some of the commonly used materials in products available on the market today. I blogged about our field trip last week, and you can read all about it here. But in today’s blog I will be talking about our activities in the past few days, designing a product!

We began designing a product with five specific customer needs in mind. The first customer need that was extremely important to us was the ability for the product to be versatile.

Original photo of SEAS Design Team working on their design matrix
Original photo of SEAS Design Team working on their decision matrix

We want to design a product that can be used in all types of shoes. The most commonly used and available insoles available on the market today are either designed for use in tennis or athletic shoes, or heels, but it is extremely uncommon and rare to find an affordable insole that is versatile. We want to create a product that can be used in both athletic and non-athletic shoes. Another customer specific need that is important to us is the ability for the product to relieve different types of foot pain (plantar fasciitis in particular, but also other commonly experienced foot pain). We want to design a product for users who experience foot pain as the insoles currently available on the market do not offer versatility and relief for foot pain. Additionally, we wanted to design a product that provides all day cushion for the user, as well as a product that remains cool throughout the day and meets regulations.

Original photo of interpreted customer needs
Original photo and design of SEAS insole

The past two classes, we’ve been trying to create a design that incorporates all of the interpreted customer needs. We discussed quite a few ideas ranging from a tape-like design to a design made entirely of gel packets. After using a decision matrix, our group decided on a combination of two design ideas created by Stephanie and Andrea. Stephanie’s design idea was modeled after K-Tape, which is an athletic tape. Her design featured a supported heel made of layers of yoga mats and gel pods attached to a tape and gel combination strands that attach to the feet. While our group liked this design and felt that it had many of the interpreted customer needs, it did not have the durability factor that we were looking for. Andrea’s design on the other hand, was modeled after a typical insole, but filled with more gel and support for the arch through a system of woven gel pads for the ball of the foot. While we liked Andrea’s design and felt that it was durable and would fit the interpreted needs of the customer for cushion and the relieving of pain, we did not feel that the product was versatile enough as it was a little bit larger and bulkier which would not allow for the insole to fit in heels or flats. Our group combined the elements of the two designs to create our new design which we feel incorporates all elements of the customers interpreted needs.  We incorporated the two elements of the designs we liked into one design. We have an extremely supported and cushioned heel which addresses plantar fasciitis and other heel pain. The arch of the foot is then supported by a block of gel as well as strands of gel above the block of gel which supports the arch. At the end of the block of gel is a cushion of gel for the toes and ball of the foot.

We hope that we can continue to improve our design and create the best insole possible!

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