Helping chronically ill patients understand their body's conditions better with respect to their activities and environment empowering them to make proactive decisions for a healthier and more confident lifestyle.
Multiple Sclerosis is a chronic neurological condition diagnosed in people between the ages 20 to 40. More than 2.3 million people are diagnosed and it effects people in different ways depending on their lifestyle and environmental conditions. Many newly diagnosed patients live in fear not knowing what activity or environmental condition could activate their symptoms causing a relapse making them anxious and less confident in the things they can actually do. However, since the effects of the condition occur differently to every individual, it is important for each individual to understand their own bodies and limitations in their own way.
HeatBeat is a wearable device that enables newly diagnosed people with chronic illnesses like Multiple Sclerosis to understand their body better with respect to their activities and environment. It has inbuilt sensors, mainly a heart rate sensor and body temperature sensor, that measures and compares the body's physical conditions with respect to the current activity and environmental conditions they are in. This data is then fed from the device via bluetooth to an app, which allows them to understand how their body is reacting to the activities and environment they are in. This helps them understand their physical thresholds beyond which their symptoms could react. After understanding and setting their physical ability threshold by calibrating it into the device, the device can adapt to their daily activities giving them haptic feedback warnings before a potential relapse.
The product-service system also comes with a MS community where people can share their experiences with each other. This community works as a support system to encourage and help people with chronic illnesses live a healthier and active life. The patients can also choose to share their data with doctors and researchers within the field to get a better understanding of this condition since there is no real understanding for the cause of Multiple Sclerosis until today.
HeatBeat helps patients log their journey and share their experiences with a better understanding of their own needs.This device empowers people with such illnesses because there is no existing wearable device that specifically addresses to such a case. Many chronically ill patients today are looking for multiple ways that can motivate and empower them individually, and this project aims to help them by replacing their anxiety with self confidence.
There were many prototypes made for HeatBeat before the final outcome. A series of interaction experience experiments were done before deciding which sensors I should be using to detect heat intolerances and how the output should be. Through my research I found that most people with chronic illnesses prefer their devices to speak to them subtly. No loud beeps, no flashing lights, but a simple vibration alert seemed to be more effective. I also did a series of body-storming to understand which was the right area where I could detect the body conditions best without it being visible and obstructive in their daily lives.
This project had been selected as one of the upcoming student concepts for start-up potential in Denmark with MedicoInnovation and DTU, where I had the opportunity to showcase and present the concept at ConhIT Messe Berlin 2014.
Advisors: Matt Cottam, Timo Arnal, Eilidh Dickson, Simona Maschi