Finalist 2023


Sherine Yonarto / Elizabeth Amanda / Supervisor - Frank Feltham / RMIT University

Enabling Home Exercise Programs to be fun and interactive one exercise at a time.

Designed for adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis to help with their Home Exercise Program (HEP), Uncurved is a wearable device to motivate users to do their HEP consistently and effectively, using sound designs to elevate their exercise into a gamification experience.

Design Brief:

The personal tracking and display of human movement data is an area of research that aims to improve both self-care and rehabilitation in physiotherapy and other related healthcare practices. Research has shown that personal-tracking technologies, using real-time data, will be a market worth 70 billion dollars by 2024. However, at issue is the way the data is analysed and presented so that it is meaningful for self-care and rehabilitation. In this studio, students will use design processes to explore the representation of data to support movement rehabilitation in aesthetically engaging ways.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

Through our research of case studies and existing devices, we found out that there is a gap in the market for scoliosis assistance products for home exercise plans. The existing devices that do detect hip angles and spine positions that we found in the market are more focused on posture correction in everyday situations like standing or sitting instead of rehabilitation exercises. Nevertheless, another challenge is to encourage users to be consistent with their prescribed HEP to progress in minimizing their discomfort. In addition, most of these devices use vibration and visual cues to inform users of their incorrect posture, yet rarely do these devices solely work audibly. Through this research, we decided to address these gaps in our project to improve physiotherapy rehabilitation for scoliosis patients.

To understand the exercise movements in HEP for scoliosis patients, we did a controlled experiment of a bridge exercise using an IMU device to collect the Yaw (Horizontal), Pitch (Frontal), and Roll (Sagittal) movements. From the experiment, we found that an inexperienced patient may do the exercise incorrectly without live feedback. Two critical points that we decided to address for the bridge exercise are to give feedback to users for the height points when they are ascending their hips and their timing for ascending and descending during the exercise.

For the sonification process, we use MSP in MAX 8 program to generate a trigger sound for the desired height point and a continuous sound to inform users of their repetition timing through the data collected. Our team have also created a UI/UX design and IMU product design to support the personalisation and preference of each user as the final outcome of this project.

Design Excellence

Our goal is to minimize the chance of returning pain by reminding patients to do their Home Exercise Program (HEP) consistently and assisting patients to do their exercises correctly to prevent regression due to incorrect practices.

Uncurved enables an engaging and effective rehabilitation experience to improve the rehabilitation process for scoliosis patients. Using human movement data collected by an IMU device, live sound feedback is generated during the HEP exercises to assist patients on their rehabilitation journey. Two live sound feedback are created using the MAX 8 program to inform the user of their movements during the exercise duration.

The first sound is a bell-like sound mimicking gamelan, a traditional Indonesian musical instrument, to softly alert the user that they have reached the desired height point. The second sound is a wave-like sound which is famous as a calming sound to help the user to be relaxed during the exercise duration. The combination of the two sounds working in conjunction created a serene atmosphere when done correctly, motivating users to do the exercise in a slow and steady movement.

Design Innovation

It can be shown that sound is a vital element in creating awareness, taking examples such as phone notifications, alarms and background sounds in videography to evoke emotional values. Uncurved uses sound to help the patients to be reminded of the HEP sessions and be present during their exercises by informing the users of their own movements. Gamification is also employed and has an important role in engaging users with their programs and creating consistency in their repetitive movements during the exercise.

Unlike sound-based feedback, visual feedback technologies are still more common in home exercises. There were also less common live audio feedback devices that cater to scoliosis patients. In addition, most technology focuses more on fixing postures instead of monitoring an overall exercise session. Uncurved aims to solve this gap in the market industry of personal product assistance for HEP scoliosis patients.

Design Impact

Adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) is the most common spinal distortion and is commonly treated through HEP and rehabilitation. The biggest issue faced in HEP is when a patient is inconsistent in their exercises due to a lack of motivation and incorrect movements during the exercises. Using gamification methods, the audio feedback will allow users to be fully present with their exercises, informed of their movements from the live feedback, and minimize distractions. The product's app would allow users to notify them of their HEP sessions as a reminder to do the exercises consistently, consequently changing their behaviours towards their exercise experience. Through the app, users can also easily update and modify their HEP thresholds from their recent physio session.

Uncurved was designed as a part of an RMIT Industrial Design Studio assignment, focusing on digital interventions for self-care and rehabilitation. Looking forward to the emerging industry of self-tracking devices in medical or healthcare environments, this project showcased that Victoria's design culture is focused on the present and the future while learning from past design interventions.

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