Kurosu, A. Design Science


Rollator

2010 : Aaron Kurosu

People are apprehensive towards adopting a walker, cane, or rollator. I learned this after connecting with several people in senior centers and nursing homes. But if you talk to the nurses who help the elderly every day, you would not learn this. This project demonstrates the importance of talking to users directly. After synthesizing my qualitative data, my goal was to approach seven design requirements:

Design Requirements:

  1. The product must be adaptable to the physical and emotional needs of different people.
  2. The product must provide emotional security.
  3. The product must provide stability.
  4. The product must be easily storable.
  5. The product must be adjustable.
  6. The product must be comfortable to maneuver.
  7. The product's owner must be easily identifiable.

Not your typical rollator, the goal of the design was to instill pride. Nevertheless, there are many innovative features to tackle the seven design requirements listed above. This design was featured in the 2011 Faces of Design Awards and was published in the Spring 2011 issue of Innovation, a quarterly periodical for the Industrial Design Society of America (IDSA).

Copies of the articles:

FacesOfDesign.pdf (39MB)
Innovation.pdf (582KB)

Features:

A tension knob that controls how fast the wheels turn. As you can imagine, a person will need different speeds depending on their gait and whether they are walking on carpet or hardwood. The design of the knob accommodates people with arthritis.

Another innovative feature is the braking system which relies on a person pushing down on the handles. Rollators often help with balancing issues. However, they can cause falls when someone tries to put too much weight on it, and it rolls away. Standard rollators have breaks, but they require hand strength that many might not adequately possess. This break relies on shifting your body weight, a natural and intuitive interaction.

For seniors who live in communities, they commonly will be in spaces with a dozen rollators strewn to the sides of the room. This design, with a push of a button under the handle, will fold flat. Then it can be wheeled and nested against another in a closet.

A basic but necessary feature is height adjustment. Rather than adjusting four legs on a typical design, this one requires just one change: a screw mechanism lowers and raises the height of the walker.

A got-to-have common feature many rollators have is a seat. When a user needs a break, they can fold down the seat; the breaks will automatically engage, and then the user can safely sit down.