After our initial interviews with Craig Hospital and NSCD were conducted, there a few major challenges we realized we needed to further research. The first concern was the idea of a safe and comfortable seat for the user. Deepa informed us that many people with disabilities have different sets of pressure points that can be affected by the shape of the seat. In addition, people with disabilities sometimes have an issue with proper posture. For these reasons, the shape and material of the seat will have to be further researched and experimented with. Furthermore, Deepa talked with us about how many people with disabilities like the idea of using equipment that is fully independent so that they can still function as closely to an able-bodied person as possible. However, we are also keeping in mind that this may not be fully possible. In that case, we would attempt to design a seat that is as close to fully independent as possible.
Padding for monoski seats comes in two main forms, base padding and loose padding, and Scott Olsen told us that it "covers everything we take for granted." The purpose of padding is to the alleviate the pressure of 5 major pressure points being your (INSERT POINTS). Base padding is used to cover protrusions or ridges in the seat to create a flush surface for the back and butt, which helps reduce chaffing. Loose padding is then added in at the end of a fitting sessions to fill gaps and secure the person into the seat. Padding must be waterproof, due to the nature of the sport, as well as no thicker then 1-1.5 inches. While padding is a necessity, the less the better. One of NSCD's employees compared lots of padding to the sensation you would get if you had to wear multiple socks to fit into a shoe.
The last area of concern is the chairlift loading process. As shown in the video below, a monoski is loaded on a chairlift by sliding the seat of the chairlift into a V-shaped slot under the seat of the ski. Because of this method of loading the back and butt of the chairlift needs to be clear and flush, because objects on the back will push the seat farther off the chair and objects on the bottom will prevent loading. They also told us that the sides can also be a problematic location for protrusions, as they have potential to snap off during falls. Because of the limited areas in which we could implement a system, due to chairlift loading, we decided that a flat system which could be interfaced with a tool, such as an allen wrench, would be our most viable option.
Framing Our Oppurtunities
After reaching out through interviews it was clear to our team that we wanted to create an adjustable sit-ski seat to accommadate the various body-types of its users. When talking to Scott Olsen he voiced that each ski seat costs a steap $600. The resorts and companies that often offer mono-skiing to it's disabled patrons are then required to own a variety of sizes in order to aptly fit every customer, as well as copies of each size on the chance that multiples of the same body type are skiing on the same day. Not only would an adjustable sit-ski seat be convinient but it's highly marketable and cost effective. The main objective is to create a seat with adjustable sides and back, to accomadate the hips, waist, and torso.
Some of our initial design ideas included:
-Armadillo like sides and back that expand and contact into one another, think football shoulder pads.
-An inflation system placed in a larger seat frame, that can be inflated and contoured to the user's body.
-A rail system in the bottom and back of the seat in which movable sides can be slid and locked in place.
We further entertained this third idea during a prototyping session in class in which we created a model out of foam core, cardboard, and glue. By prototyping we were able to highlight some of the immediate difficulties with the design, such as potential loading and support issues with the adjustable pieces, as well discussing how to avoid having holes in the bottom and back of the seat.
When meeting NSCD again in Winter Park we also discussed a couple of other design oppurtunies after gaining more insight into the fitting and loading proccess. These ideas included:
-Re-entertaining the idea of inflatable padding.
-An adjustable seat system that can be adjusted on mountain and on chairlift using a simple tool.
Each idea present it's own set of unique design challenges but the overall difficulties lie in creating a safe and comfortable seat which users can readily use on their own and with assistance. While Scott Olsen gave us the initial idea to attempt an adjustable seat, Craig hospital aided us in realizing so of the challanges that our able bodies had never experienced. The biggest challenge will be stepping into the mindset of a disabled person and imposing their experiences into our design, but with a empathetic and human outlook hopefully our ideal design can come to fruition.
Considering the Individual
The most important detail to keep in mind when moving forward with creating an adjustable monoski is to keep the individual in mind. Though we are working closely with an organization, it is ultimately the individual that will either benefit or suffer from design modifications. We want to enhance the experience of monoskiing by allowing individuals to find a more comfortable seat fit. This can lead to an overall more enjoyable experience that eliminates a person from needing to take time out of the ski day for incremental pad or seat adjustment.
1 hour prototyping product that helped to generate ideas
Initial sketches of preliminary adjustable seating idea