DEVELOPING A SMART WALKER FOR OLDER ADULTS

What if walkers could be safer and easier for older adults to use?

For my undergraduate thesis, I focused on increasing proper usage and safety of walkers, while making them easier to incorporate into the user's daily life. I assembled and led a team of professionals and students to streamline and expedite the process of understanding how older adults user walkers. As a result of secondary literature research and design research with stakeholders, I developed a wide range of prototypes and conducted iterative user testing. I presented my findings and final prototype via poster session at the 21st Annual World Congress on Gerontology and Geriatrics.

 

While walkers are commonly used mobility aids for older adults, they are frequently misused, abandoned, or resented by their users. Following a series of contextual interviews and observations I created a high-fidelity, working prototype using a variety of current-market walkers and 3D-printed couplings to retrofit pieces to one another. Based on feedback from physicians regarding safe use of walkers, members of my team used Arduinos to program a smart braking system and a distance indication system to encourage and ensure safe use of the device. 

Roles I Played

  • Assembled and led team

  • Conducted literature review

  • Wrote grant

  • Recruited participants

  • Conducted contextual interviews and observations

  • Facilitated co-creation sessions

  • Created minimum viable prototypes

  • Conducted iterative user testing

  • Prototyped physically and with CAD

  • Generated actionable insights

  • Presented design to stakeholders

  • Presented in academic contexts