Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting award-winning projects and ideas from this year's Core77 Design Awards 2012! For full details on the project, jury commenting and more information about the awards program, go to Core77DesignAwards.com
- E-Z Rise Walker for Senior Citizen
- Designer: Mike Seskauskas
- Location: University of Illinois at Chicago
- Category: Strategy & Research
- Award: Student Notable
The E-Z RISE walker is a medical walker for senior citizens. It addresses the key issues that seniors face when attempting to stand up and get out of their seat. The EZ-RISE walker uses simple ergonomic touch points as well as leverage to provide a safe and effective way for senior citizens to stand.
How did you learn that you had been recognized by the jury?
At the time of the announcement of the "Strategy and Research" winners, I was out of town with no access to the Internet. Upon my return, I immediately logged on to the Core77 Design Awards page and began browsing the different categories, curious to learn a little about each entry. When I reached the strategy and research section, I quickly glanced over all the entries and saw my project amongst the winners. I proceeded to watch Lorraine Justice's video announcement to hear some of the jury's feedback. I felt honored to be recognized along with all the other great student and professional entries.
What's the latest news or development with your project?
Currently, I am seeking out design and engineering professionals in the medical equipment industry for additional feedback. Based on all the positive feedback from my interviewees as well as the Core77 Strategy and Research Jury, I want to finalize the project. I would like to hear from those in the industry about how the walker could be taken from a prototype to an actual product that could be used by senior citizens. From there it would be back to the drawing board to work out the final details and if possible, find a way to get the E-Z Rise Walker to market.Â
What is one quick anecdote about your project?
One of the more awkward, but nonetheless enjoyable parts of this project came after my very first meeting with my professor after I had chosen to pursue a walker redesign. She asked me if I had ever used a walker; I responded that I had not. My professor promptly told me to take the rest of my studio time (and the rest of the evening), and start using a walker. So I proceeded to hit the streets of Chicago with my grandpa's old bi-fold walker. Half the people I encountered thought I was crazy; the other half kindly held doors or slowed down as I passed by. As I struggled to navigate stairs, open doors, and use the elevator, I began to get frustrated. When I proceeded to get stuck in a turnstile trying to make my way to the train, I felt ridiculous, but realized that the world is a lot different when you need a walker just to get around. This initial exercise, as awkward as it felt, helped me as the designer put myself in the users shoes. It helped me understand the product and the potential for a redesign.Â
What was an "a-ha" moment from this project?
In any design project I work on, I feel that the "a-ha" moment comes when a well thought out idea receives praise and approval from those who either use or work with the product on a daily basis. In my case that began with a few interviews with senior citizens and countless amounts of doodles photos, and post-it notes tacked to the wall of our studio space at UIC. With all that information narrowed down to the early stages of what would eventually become the "E-Z Rise Walker," I met with physical therapists at the Veterans hospital. While talking with one physical therapist about issues surrounding the walker, I pulled out a quick sketch I had made explaining a "walker that assists you in getting out of your seat." What followed was the "a-ha" moment that makes design worth all the hard work; the physical therapist smiled and went into a long discussion of all the issues and injuries surrounding seniors standing up using their walker. She concluded by confirming with her colleagues that this was the right path to head down and that this could be a potential solution.Â