- Cooling Device, 3D Printed House with custom made electronics
- Individual Project
- 1 year
- 2015 - 2016
Zephyr is worn around the neck and is comprised of a series of fans that cool the back and sides of the user’s neck. The device is secured to the neck using fabric modeled after scarves and other neck wearables, while the portion that houses the fans is made of hard plastic.
I gave my product the name Zephyr because a zephyr means a soft gentile breeze, which describes the type of cooling that is provided in the cooling that I provide in my product.
For people living with Multiple Sclerosis, heat is a significant trigger for the fatigue they face on a daily basis. Multiple Sclerosis is a disease where lesions form on the brain and brain stem, which cause signals being sent to the brain to slow.
Because of temperature control problems and high temperatures causing their symptoms to get worse, it is hard for them to keep themselves cool in places where they cannot physically control the temperature.
To better understand what people living with M.S. deal with on a daily basis, I began posting surveys on the website reddit and from these surveys was able to get many subsequent interviews. The following are the findings I received from the surveys and their following interviews:
Survey and Interview cycle 1: Living with Multiple Sclerosis
Survey Responses: 14
Fatigue was the biggest problem for people and occurred every day for those who had it and heat directly caused their fatigue to come on faster and caused all their symptoms to worsen.
Survey and Interview cycle 2: Heat Related Fatigue
Survey Responses: 13
I found that there were very few cooling methods that worked, which allowed me to begin to get a list of products and start ideating concepts based on these products. I also found that the interviewees had to plan their schedules around whether or not they could trust the temperature in their environment. Most people I interviewed also stated that if they could have a cooling product that would be easy to use and also give them the freedom to go anywhere, it would make their life easier and less stressful.
For this project, I had to brainstorm in several different ways. The first was the location on the body I would design for. I discovered that there are different points on the body that are better for warming and cooling the body down. These points would directly impact the overall design of my product.
It was also very important for my users that the product wouldn't stick out because of the stigma associated with wearing a medical device. At the same time, this product had to provide discrete cooling for the user.
Based on this, I brainstormed several different cooling methods (seen above in the Research section) and I decided to use fans for their efficiency and long lasting battery life, as well as their quiet use. I also decided to design for the neck in mind because of how effective of a cooling zone it is. The neck is a major causeway for blood, the blood going through the neck can be quickly cooled and travel through the body, cooling the body down just as quickly (I was able to get cooled in 4 minutes).
From here, I began iterating through different designs for the housing and different designs for how to physically attach it with the body.
The final housing had a much softer design that would feel better when resting on the neck. I made sure the fans were as compact inside the housing as possible and designed several different fabric models. I wanted to show different styles that can be associated with this product so that people could better imagine what it would be like to wear. I used neutral colored fabric so that my product could go with anyone's personal style. Finally, I added mesh to the model (as seen above and in the last image) to increase air flow for the fans, so that users will have maximum amount of cooling being supplied to the the neck.
Project Brief can be provided upon request.