Following up since my last blog post, ReJoint Inc. has been hard at work regularly building new and innovative prototypes to protect ACL tears in the knee, specifically for soccer players. In addition to building prototypes, we now also have a base of what to build our product after thanks to customer interviews!
For our customer interviews, I interviewed varsity soccer player Emmaline Jeansonne as well as two tennis players named Meredith and Diego who previously had knee injuries. I wrote a few questions down before hand but added some follow up questions in case anything needed clarifying. Something really helpful about these three interviews is that they all wore a different kind of knee brace. Diego wore a compression sleeve, Meredith wore a wrap around brace (similar to the brace we ordered), and Emmaline wore a small band to give support to her patella. From these interviews I was able to find the best attributes and think of how to incorporate these ideas into our prototype. Each member in ReJoint Inc. was responsible for getting 3 customer interviews so we ended up having more information than what we knew to do with! From there we went straight to the drawing board.
The sketch above showed one of our first ideas. On paper this design looked really good. When we made this design it ended up not working well at all. Ally Wait, our team leader, was the model for this concept but she ended up finding it “uncomfortable, because it was restricting knee movement.” After this failed design, we went back and started from scratch. The second design we made was much better and we were really happy with the results.
Above is a photo of me modeling and testing the second prototype. This design was much more comfortable, sleek, and breathable, all concepts our customers were looking for. After this prototyping, we took a major step to building our final product: learning to sew.
Learning to sew was a crucial step I feel in advancing our product. Instead of making it out of socks and rubber bands, we now have the skills and materials to build a more realistic and marketable product.
The photo above, I am using a sewing machine to sew hinge supports into a felt pouch. The felt pouch will offer padding and durability to our design. This is only one small part of what we have been doing and I am really excited to continue prototyping. I think the next really big step for our group will be ordering materials. Once we get the materials we will be able to create a more accurate prototype of what we want our product to look like. Overall I feel like every group member is bringing their own unique skills to this project aside from sewing and 3D printing. Everyone is really open to sharing their ideas so I think our ideas will only get better the further we go.