My group, ACCS have now started developing ideas for our knee product prototype. We have been brainstorming possible ideas, materials, fabrics, and features to incorporate in it. Our product will focus on preventing the shifting of the knee from side to side, which is what causes ACL tears in people. For the sake of our project, we are focusing on both male and female runners. We have gained new knowledge on the different materials that we can use and what customers would want to see in our developing product.
We conducted a series of customer interviews, to give us an idea of what runners through about knee braces and their effects on their body. We asked a series of 16 questions, like, do you think the product you are currently using for your knee injury is actually effective? also, what would you want to see incorporated in a new knee product? These responses were vital to our research, because we want to improve, if not prevent knee injuries from happening. Getting information from knee product users gives us an insight on what we need to improve to make our product more effective and stand out in the market. Using these answers and our personal experience using a knee brace, we developed a list of 5 customer needs, which were, mobile, breathable, comfortable, adjustable, and affordable.
Last week our biomed class took a trip to Hancock Fabrics, to look at the different fabrics and materials that we could potentially use to make our final prototype. We learned about the difference between, natural, mineral, and synthetic textiles. Natural are made of cotton, linen, some come from animals, like silk, wool and leather. Mineral are not commonly used in clothing. Synthetic materials include polyester, nylon, and spandex. Different materials are cheaper, washable, have different textures, etc. We had to take all this into consideration, to figure out what materials would be best suited for us to make our final prototype out of. We were initially thinking of making our final prototype out of velcro, dry-fit material, foam, plastic, and elastic. Velcro and elastic for adjustability, dry-fit to keep the product dry, foam for padding, and plastic because it is sturdy. Upon learning more about the different materials and what they’re made of we decided that incorporating foam padding inside the product, and using elastic straps to keep it in place and make it adjustable, which were related to our customer needs. We also decided to possibly use some kind of spandex material due to the fact that it provides compression. Which we need in order to keep the whole knee in place, because the placement of the patella is not in itself the cause of knee pain, that results in wearing a knee brace.
After gathering our customer needs and new gained knowledge of fabric and materials we started building our very first prototype. We just started off raw prototyping, creating our prototype on the spot. Which isn’t as easy as it seems, we should have started with an initial plan. Which was good in our case, because the more you mess up the better. Every time we gain new information on what not to do and how to improve our design. We used random materials to make our prototype, like socks, which we made a “compression band” out off, and elastic straps that tied in the back which could be adjustable, popsicle sticks in the inside to keep the knee in pace, preventing shifting, and safety pins to keep it all together. It wasn’t the prettiest of prototypes, but it did provide compression to the knee. Our team is still working on our prototype, we hope to improve it to create the best final prototype possible. Which will revolutionize knee braces, by being the best.