Innovation for Independence

Finalist Updates #4: Evolvable walking aid - One Small Step Ahead

Publish date:
16/03/2016 - 12:53pm
Last updated:
16/03/2016 - 12:53pm

The final pre-prototype of the evolvable walking aid was put together back in December and it’s been all about the testing since then…

The evolvable walking aid is a modular range of parts which can be assembled to make walking sticks, crutches, a walking frame or variations of these walking aids, tailored to suit your needs.

Structural & Mechanical Testing
The huge quantity of safety regulations and standards surrounding walking aids means there are also lots of tests which must be done to ensure the evolvable walking aid is safe and durable. Our first set of tests analysed the design’s structural strength using computer models to simulate it being used in different scenarios. This structural analysis taught us how the shape of the design could be tweaked to make it more stable and to increase the user weight capacity. We were welcomed by the fantastic designers and engineers at Demand to discuss testing physical prototypes of the evolvable walking aid and to learn more about servicing and repairing old walking aids.

User Testing
Spending months deep in the design phase of a product makes it hard to step back and envisage how intuitive to use it will be for someone who has never seen it before. For this reason we asked a group of walking aid users to have a go at assembling the kit to make a walking stick, crutches and a walking frame. This session was a great way to highlight how we could make the assembly simpler to put together without the need for complex instructions. We then visited a Leonard Cheshire Disability care centre to get yet more feedback from walking aid users on the final design; you can never have too much user feedback.

Looking forwards
Soon into the Inclusive Technology Prize it became clear that designing, making and user testing a full set of evolvable walking aid parts, from a mere idea, was a fairly big undertaking to fit into 6 months.  As time has passed, the company has established itself and our vision has grown clearer. Over the next few months our first version of the evolvable walking aid will be revealed and we’ll be sharing what we’ve learnt on this first step of our journey. We’ll be starting user trials with the kit soon, so if you’re interested in finding out more about the evolvable walking aid please get in touch or visit us at one of our upcoming exhibitions:
The Big Bang Fair – March 18th-19th at NEC, Birmingham.
Hospital Innovations – April 26th-27th at Olympia, London.
Design for an Ageing Population – May 13th at Kings Centre, Norwich.
Made In Brunel - June 16th-19th at Bargehouse OXO Tower, London.

The last few months have been scheduled to the minute but thanks to such a diligent team we’ve achieved what we set out to and had a pretty great time along the way. We’d like to say a huge thank you to Dot and Katey from Brunel University London for your continual hard work and enthusiasm, to MERU for assisting us with manufacture, to CRL for providing an abundance of resources and a super community, to Major Engineering and to Bill, Andy, Charlotte and Tom for all your support!