Some Comfort in the Emergency Room!

  • Due to age, people with dementia visit the emergency room more frequently and have longer stays. However, as doctors and nurses cannot stay with them for the entire length of their stay, being alone in an unfamiliar environment leads to confusion and agitation. As a result, the doctors have to order medication or physical restraints to prevent agitated patients from hurting themselves and others. 

    There must be ways to prevent agitation in the emergency room.

    Seeking ways to improve the current situation, Dr. Hayward, working in Rhode Island Hospital and Miriam Hospital Emergency Department, provided us with this design problem.

    In response, my group mates, both engineering students at Brown, and I decided to design an interactive lamp with artificial aquarium. It can be held in hands or set besides  bed. It is a simple affordable toy that provides soothing light and calming sight. 

    Below is a video of our first prototype, with more iteration and user testing in progress.
  • Our Process

    Basic research about dementia, related data and issues.
  • After the basic research, my intuition was to focus on senses, since it is the most direct way to have an impact on emotion. Nice scent, soft light, warm pillows and music would provide comfort to anyone. The response is direct and intuitive. 

    Therefore, I went into further research on sensory and perception change that dementia patients may experience, and sketched some initial ideas in response.
  • As the group for the project was formed, we discussed our initial ideas and expanded upon them as basis for further development of specific project ideas. 
  • Upon further research, we came across videos of fascinating toys function by simple physical principles, such as the Faraday Train, Ivan lack's mobile and the Cartesian Diver.
  • Concept sketches for the interactive lamp.
  • We wanted the interaction to have a story-telling aspect, so that it is not merely a physical screen-saver. We decided on the Cartesian diver mechanism, and here are some ideas to contextualize the interaction.
  • We decided to start with the jellyfish idea, and tested different ways of making them.
  • Different ways to increase pressure.
  • Outer shell form and construction prototypes.
  • Sealing mechanism iterations.
  • Electronic components.
  • First functional prototype.