For the past couple of weeks the RunnerPro team has been gathering customer interviews, data and constructing our very first prototype. We interviewed a wide range of people, including students and coaches from Ann Richards and medical professionals. From our customer interviews we gained a lot of information about the needs of our customers and we now have a pretty good idea as to what the average customer wants in a knee brace. From our interviews we narrowed down our target group to just women. Our customer interviews helped the RunnerPro team gain information on what makes a knee brace comfortable,
supportive and overall makes the knee feel as stabilized as possible.
We took all of the information that we gained and used it when we took a mini field trip to Hancock Fabrics. When we went to the fabric store we looked at many different types of materials to get an idea of what would be best when making our own device. From our bio-medical research and extensive customer interviews we plan to make a knee brace that stabilizes the knee with the use of hinges, provides comfort through the use of compression and is made of materials that are durable and long lasting to give our customers the best experience possible. From our field trip we have become interested in polyester, rayon and spandex and nylon blend for the actual brace. In addition to those fabrics we are interested in using hinges, foam pad, elastic and possibly Velcro. The trip to Hancock fabrics really aided our progress by helping open our minds to new types of fabrics.
Last week we also experienced designing a prototype for the first time. This definitely served as a challenge for the group because we had to work together to come up with one design that actually meets one of the customer needs. When designing the prototype we all had different ideas of what a good brace would look like. We ended up creating two different designs that involved some of the same ideas. We wanted the brace to have an open patella for support and an open back for added comfort, but we struggled with this because when we cut the hole in the back of the brace it always ended up way bigger than it was supposed to be. We tried multiple times to cut a good sized hole but something always went wrong. The first couple of times the hole was way to big and it had no support and was very loose, but other times the hole was too small and the brace felt constricting.
At the end of the day we ended up with two different prototypes that used some of the same ideas, but we are still working to create a design that meets all of our customer needs. In the meantime we are working to learn new skills, like sewing and 3D printing that will help us to make our final device the best it can be for our customers.