VIA continues collaboration on the development of ICURA – The Intelligent T-Shirt
The T-shirt can with the help of integrated sensors measure and visualise body movements
YOKE Interaction Design and VIA have received extra funds from the partnership company UNIK to continue working on product development and communicating the product concept that is the foundation of ICURA – The Intelligent T-Shirt, which YOKE is the inventor and developer of. YOKE and VIA have collaborated since the beginning of 2011 and have now received funds for the continuation of the collaboration in 2012.
The sweater is designed to help prevent injuries
With the help of integrated sensors, The Intelligent T-Shirt can measure and visualise body movements performed during a work day. In that way, the sweater, which is a t-shirt, can identify undesirable back and shoulder movements. Among other things, the goal of identifying the movements is to help people incorporate non-stressing movement patterns in order to help prevent injuries. But The Intelligent T-Shirt can also be used for rehabilitating people with a bad back and for contributing to the development of telemedicinal solutions.
A textbook example of good collaboration
Lars Mønsted Nielsen from the Research and Development department at VIA Campus Horsens is the project manager in the collaboration with YOKE, and he is excited about the extra funds for continuing the collaboration the rest of the year: “The collaboration with YOKE is a textbook example of how VIA with its knowledge within many different fields can support a complex development process. Furthermore, we as teachers have the possibility of working in an interdisciplinary context together with a private company in a specific product development context”. Jakob Mandø, executive director at YOKE, is also happy about the collaboration: “VIA has the academic knowledge which we need to continue our product development. That VIA has been able to help us on both the technical, mercantile and the health sciences area has made the collaboration both smooth and easy on us”.
Technical support and feedback
Since June 2011, VIA has undertaking technical support and feedback with YOKE – focus has been on the technical development of sensors in the sweater as well as on the data-collecting device.
It has been the Mechanical Engineering programme, represented by Klaus Bahner, Per Ulrik Hansen and Morten Bornemann, who has helped YOKE complete tests and develop technical proposals.
The work on the different tests has also had an international dimension. Four Mechatronic engineer students from Hochschule Augsburg in Germany, who are on exchange at VIA Campus Horsens, were responsible for installing and programming the robot which was used for several of the technical tests which The Intelligent T-Shirt went through.
The mercantile part of development
On the mercantile area of VIA and YOKE’s collaboration, VIA has functioned as a close counsellor and discussion partner which in particular had effect on the development of a business model, a business plan as well as on the price determination and target audience strategy.
It was the project manager of the Student Entrepreneurship Centre, Erik Løvgren, who primarily was connected to the project regarding the mercantile initiatives. But also the head of the Value Chain Management programme, Erik Aaen, has participated particularly with feedback on how YOKE can attract investors.
Counselling within the health sciences area
The Physiotherapist programme and the Centre for Health Improvement, Rehabilitation and Health Technology at VIA has counselled YOKE on the placement of the sensors in the sweater, and they have participated as experts in workshops concerning the health sciences area. Among other things, the counselling has involved the presentation of the shoulder complex’s movements, the limit values for undesirable movements and positions as well as an insight into the practice of the physiotherapist. In that connection, a video with 10 exercises was produced for the rehabilitation of the shoulder.
Frank Lambreth and Claus Sevel from the Physiotherapist programme have functioned as experts.
Close to the user
When it came to the development of The Intelligent T-Shirt, YOKE needed to come into contact with those therapist who potentially would use the sweater in a rehabilitation context as well as the patients who needed rehabilitation. The goal was to get the known and unknown’s user needs brought into light. For this purpose, Mobile Probes’ innovation method was used – primarily to get a realistic impression of the users’ everyday life.
Mobile Probes use mobile phones to document the users’ movement. The method gives the users the possibility to document their own everyday life based on some tasks and questions formulated by the product developers. In that way, the method will give an insight into aspects of the users’ everyday life, attitudes and values which are not brought into light by a regular user interview. Mobile Probes takes advantage of the fact that today everyone own a mobile phone that can take pictures, write messages and record sound. The technology has been developed by VIA and is based on the Cultural Probes method, which combines psychological and ethnographical principals in connection with user involvement.
It is Laura Møller and Kean Sørensen from VIA’s department for continuing education, who have been affiliated with the project.
Presentation and communication
The Intelligent T-Shirt is now so far developed that it will be marketed towards the different target audiences which include private and public players within health sciences, institutions of education and research as well as potential international partners and private investors. Therefore, some of the funds will be used to produce a promotional video and other marketing material. VIA’s communications department at Campus Horsens will participate in the work.
The total budget of the project is approx. 2,900,000 DKK and VIA will receive approx. 1,200,000 DKK for their part in the development work.
YOKE – background
YOKE is a small entrepreneur company with eight employees of whom four are partners and founders. The company is located in Copenhagen, and they are especially strong within the development of concepts, integration and use of new technology.