This week Vertabend as been designing our solution, which we’ve decide will indeed be a neck support pillow. We’ve agreed that it’s too much to take on to design a neck brace to wear in public that wouldn’t be noticeable or “uncool” (or uncomfortable in some way). Instead, we can help re-align people’s necks in the privacy of their own homes, and while they don’t need to look glamorous.
However, during my research, I became very discouraged when I found out that the “curve” VertaBend (hence the name) is so intent on restoring only applies to the spine when someone’s lying down on their back; side sleepers have a different problem. While back sleepers need a little curve under their neck to keep their heads lower than their necks (this maintains the lordotic, or natural forward bend of the neck), side sleepers need a much firmer pillow that fits in the space between their shoulder and neck so their spine is in a straight plane. The diagram below illustrates this difference.
Anyways, for awhile there, I was super concerned that we couldn’t possibly design a pillow that could perform two separate tasks correctly. Then I came across what I like to call the maxi-pad pillow from Neck Solutions.
As you can see, it isn’t very visually appealing and doesn’t even look comfortable (or, for that matter, much like a pillow). It does accommodate to both back and side sleepers though; the side panels are for the side sleepers. However, there were many customer complaints about ears getting smashed up against the side panels (if they were sleeping on their back).
So hope was restored…we are going to innovate this pillow design! On Wednesday, VertaBend put all of its concept sketches together and walked out of the classroom with a final design sketch that combined both my and Zabdi’s ideas. The final sketch was created by taking the identified customer needs and multiplying their rank (1 being the highest) by the score given to each design in each category of need. Are needs, in order of importance, are:
1) Proper neck alignment
4) Visually appealing
Both my and Zabdi’s designs were similar to the Neck Solutions pillow in that they had side-sleeping support and back-sleeping support; however, mine looked more like a pillow, and had three distinct sections.
There are three distinct sections of the pillow (that aren’t obvious or distruptive to the flow of the pillow-yay visual appeal); the middle is for back sleepers, as can be seen with the raised curve. Where the head rests will be very moldable to the shape of someone’s head so it won’t be raised above the neck. The two outer sections will be made of firmer memory foam and will keep the spine aligned in a straight line for side sleepers.