I broke my elbow fall of 2014. This prompted me to consider all sorts of issues that become difficult with one hand. My arm eventually healed, but the experience stuck with me. That inspired the question:
How might I improve daily life of someone who has temporarily lost function of one hand?
For this project, I interviewed anyone I could find (about 8 people over 1 week period) with limited one-hand capacity and asked them about their challenges.
With one hand, it is difficult to:
- Play video games
- Type on a keyboard
- Carry more than one thing
- Ride a bike
- Wash dishes
- Take out the trash
- Put on a seat belt
- Blow dry hair
- Tie shoelaces
- Clasp a bra
- Button or snap jeans/pants
- Play an instrument
- Change a diaper
- Cut or chop anything
- Open a jar, unscrew things
- Put hair in ponytail
- Use scissors
- Put on jewelry with clasps or hooks
- Eat out of plasticware (slides on table)
These challenges might be broken into broad categories below.
Some initial exploring of grooming and cooking solutions.
For this project, I decided to focus on cleaning. After some exploration, I landed on sweeping.
Sweeping involves twisting and turning, and is easier and faster with two hands. I started by exploring how to rethink the handle of the broom.
The idea of a cuff seemed to make sense.
Prototyping to learn which cuff styles made it easier to sweep. A "wrap around" sort of structure seemed most comfortable.
If the cuff was wrap around, what kind of wrap around should it be?
Inspired by Michael Graves playful product design, the final design is a broom "cuff" that can be removed and added to any broom, mop or similar. A horizontal bar allows for a solid grip, while the curved sides hug the wrist. Optimize that sweeping!
This was a fun project that I personally felt connected to. You never know how much you need both hands until you lose capacity of one. Upon reflection:
1. Ergonomic design is a fine balance between finding the common denominators of all users' body types, yet allowing for customization to comfortably fit larger or smaller bodies.
2. Adaptive design has the potential to be helpful to the rest of us too. I see opportunity in creating goods and services that alleviate a short term injury situation, but would also be helpful to a non-injured person.