A Walker for the staircase
Statement: A Walker is an assistive mobility device that accommodates even terrains and staircases for seniors who are generally active but need occasional assistance and balance control. It can be used outdoor as a walking aid and on stairs as a walker-cane hybrid to provide firm support.
Four aspects of aging are the major concerns of A Walker: mental security in seniors’ product environment, independence, safety, and social connectivity. Four corresponding components - telescoping legs, scissors crossbars, fold-up seat pads, and wheels with pressure brakes are designed to solve each problem stated above. In comparison with existing walkers in the market, A Walker bridges seniors’ mobility gap between indoor and outdoor space, making the impossible possible. Climbing stairs is no longer an intimidating challenge but a daily exercise. Only by building stronger bodies and more confident minds can seniors live a healthier life through the process of aging.
The two most common types of walkers are the frame walkers and four-wheeled rollators, one provides maximum support indoor and the other one mobility outdoor. There is a blind spot in assistive mobility devices when it comes to the transitional space-staircases. With the decline of physical and cognitive ability, a lot of seniors are facing the issue of inaccessibility in public spaces due to the lack of transportation aids. My design opportunity is to make a transitional object to fully connect the journey of seniors.
Walkers are simply not designed for the staircases, whether it is a frame walker or a rollator. With their various strengths and others’ assistance in different ways, people manage to either take their walkers up and down stairs or find a way to avoid the task. The former is not safe and could potentially lead to a fall. Even no accidents happen, carrying walkers in an unbalanced and awkward position is harmful to their bodies in the long term. Seeking for others’ help, on the other hand, is safer that however takes away their independence and mental freedom. Abraham illustrated here helps to explain different scenarios.
Ideation & Mockup
The concept development methodology is “top-down” and “bottom-up” simultaneously to fulfill the product’s utility and usability. “Top-down” method is used for the structural innovation that the walker’s leg length should be adjustable to adapt stairs. This main idea sets a perimeter, or constraints, on the overall form. Secondary research and collaboration with engineers are important for this part to ensure the product’s safety and performance. “Bottom-up” method on the complementary side, focuses on the generic components of a walker: handlebar, joint, seat pad, storage space, wheels, and so on. Since these are features to existing walkers, walker users know better than designers, which makes this part a collaboration with the users through primary researches.
Information and data collected from both primary and secondary research are taken into design considerations. For a user-centered project, user testing and feedback are essential to give the design not only utility but also usability. Following conventional design, development steps are explored linearly and circularly based on user feedback.
Going back and forth between scaled models and full-size mock-ups, the final form has landed on an A-shaped side profile. It offers ergonomic grips in a regular position and stair position on both sides; controls the telescoping through its natural curvature; minimizes material used and therefore reduces the weight to its essential; as well as aesthetically breaks the conventional medical signifiers.