Making the Case for Complexity in Design
By Chloe Hill
March 24, 2016
When people see the Hypnap TruRest sometimes we are met with the question – Couldn’t the TruRest have a simpler design? Why so many adjustment features?
Our design, with all its adjustments, is based on one important word: research.
When we started developing the first product to allow you to rest in a fully supported, forward leaning position, we knew that we were entering unchartered territory and that we’d need to start almost from scratch as far as design development. We are excited by the knowledge that we’ve explored human centered design problems and made discoveries that to our knowledge have never been investigated, at least not to the level or depth that we’ve accomplished. This is why we’ve filed a patent application!
I started working on this product three years ago. My business partner Darryl signed on about 6 months later. Throughout this period, basic crude prototypes were developed to test the validity of the concept. We began working intensely with our industrial designer and his team about one year after that to refine and develop the product further.
We know that good design will include only the necessary components, nothing less, nothing more. There needs to be a good reason for the existence of each component. A well-designed product will fulfill its purpose as efficiently and as beautifully as possible.
There were many challenges facing our design team. The TruRest needed to be comfortable of course, but it also needed to be collapsible, lightweight and compactable for easy portability. Comfort and portability lie on opposites ends of the spectrum and, as far as qualities go, almost cancel each other out. Oh, and it also needed to look sleek and cool! I am still in awe of our design team for agreeing to help us tackle this challenge!
Initial TruRest design concepts (sketches)
We started with the most simple, pared down designs possible and tested each one in different environments both with people in and outside of our team. We wanted to see what we could do with as few components as possible. We also approached back, spine, neck and shoulder specialists – doctors, physical therapists and chiropractors to get their feedback on healthy positioning of the body. In addition, we did research in medical journals, articles and other publications.
Concurrently we tested a plethora of sleep aids that were already on the market to get a thorough understanding of how the problems of resting comfortably in the upright position were already being solved. We tested inflatables, all manner of neck pillows and body support contraptions. Some were designed to rest on the table while others hung or were attached to the body of the user. This gave us insight into correct and incorrect body positioning, practicality and convenience, and what materials felt good against the body.
Initial TruRest design concepts (sketches)
Our first designs had one or two parts incorporating a chest support, face plate with a cavity for breathing, and a base or anchor. These mock ups included no adjustments features.
Initial TruRest design concepts (mock-ups)
Based on our testing and to fulfill our comfort needs we began adding adjustments and refining the initial design concepts to increase comfort. We started will a rough mock up with minimal adjustments to address the positioning of the body and head (see below). This provided the basis for the body angle and face plate adjustments.
TruRest design concept with minimal adjustment features included
Your Perfect Angle
The TruRest’s angle adjustment allows you to rest in varying degrees of repose. Why add this adjustment? We found that comfortable angles for resting differed across the board with a variety of people. For example, I prefer to rest in a more downward position, whereas Darryl and our industrial designer prefer to rest in a more upright position.
The face plate adjusts in angle allowing one to assume different neck positions. Why incorporate this adjustment? We all have a natural curve in our necks and for people who are more comfortable maintaining this curvature, the TruRest’s face plate adjusts upward to place the head in a more upright position. Some people are more comfortable extending or “distracting” the neck which straightens out the curvature in the neck. Sometimes chiropractors will induce this neck position to relieve pain for those with certain neck and shoulder problems. For those who prefer this position the face plate also adjusts down to place the neck in a more downward position.
We then added two height adjustments, which controls the length of the body of the TruRest, and began in depth ergonomic studies of the face plate and how to support the face comfortably.
Early TruRest rendering including height adjustments and face plate concepts
The pivot lock height adjustment accommodates the majority of the population. We added the incline slide adjustment to accommodate taller people or those with long torsos.
We discovered that the distribution of weight was key to comfort in the face region. Thus the face plate was redesigned accordingly. The opening was widened to accommodate those wearing eye glasses.
We then began to explore cushioning to enhance comfort in the face and chest regions.
The cushions that sit on the face plate of the TruRest are removable and adjustable. I have a narrow face and preferred placing the face cushions closer together whereas Darryl had a wider face and preferred placing the cushions further apart. The type of material that we use for the face plate cushions is also crucial to creating an even distribution of weight in the facial region.
We also discovered where chest support was needed. We designed the chest cushion to be removable and adjustable because we found that some people prefer to be supported on the upper chest region and others prefer support on the lower chest region. For example, I prefer the support lower in the chest region whereas a number of our testers preferred support in the upper region of the chest.
Initial TruRest cushion prototypes
Testing the prototypes in different environments such as airplane cabins and trains compelled us to make additional modifications. We added a proximity adjustment to allow closer, easier contact with the body and also to create more space with which to lean forward in cramped spaces. One of our testers preferred to sit further back in the seat and thus adjusted the proximity feature so that it was at the maximum setting sliding towards his body.
We then added feet to the base to increase stability in case of turbulence. We also modified and streamlined the adjustments to make them easier to use. For example, we added a color coding system to mark the adjustment features.
TruRest design concept including feet and color coded adjustment features
After almost a year and a half of in depth testing and ergonomic studies, we ended up incorporating seven different adjustment components into the TruRest.
In the end what we discovered is that each person had different ideas of what is comfortable and, in order to meet those diverse comfort requirements, it is imperative to include all of the different adjustment features that the TruRest currently offers.
If you’ve felt the agony of sitting in the upright position for long periods of time, we urge to you try our TruRest! We worked hard for it to make you feel great.
CES Products Use Technology to Improve Health and Enhance Daily Living
By Chloe Hill
February 3, 2016
We attended CES (also known as the Computer Electronics Show in previous years) in Las Vegas, Nevada on January 6-9 and gained valuable insight into the way that the Hypnap TruRest can benefit tech consumers.
The biggest take away from the show is the manner that technology is increasingly being integrated into our lives in unexpected ways. One prominent area is health and wellness.
Take Laboratori Fabrici’s product Clarity – an air purifier built into the pot of a plant that uses science and technology to utilize and maximize the plant’s air purifying capabilities to eliminate toxins and purify the air in your home. Clarity’s corresponding app includes a “real-time pollution monitor, “pollution analytics” and a “temperature and humidity monitor.” It’s not available yet but it will be pretty incredible when it is!
Clarity Air Purifier
Another interesting product on display at CES was Leaf by Bellabeat. Leaf is a wearable piece of “smart jewelry” that tracks movement, counts calories, monitors quality of sleep, logs periods of light and measures and monitors breathing. It goes a step further than simply measuring data by offering advice on how to actually use and apply this data. For example, it gives the user customized exercises and specific breathing exercises to control stress, and makes other recommendations based on the data collected.
Hypnap was especially interested in Clarity and Leaf because of their involvement with breathing – purifying the air and tracking respiration. This relates to our product because the TruRest helps individuals breathe deeper and easier while using it to rest in the forward leaning position.
We also dropped by Oura’s booth at CES. Oura is a sleek computerized ring that provides detailed data on the user’s quality of sleep and daily activities, allowing the wearer to make lifestyle adjustments to achieve better health, balance and performance in their daily lives. It also provides customized recommendations and sends the data directly to the user’s phone. We love the detailed sleep data the Oura ring provides which naturally relates to the Hypnap TruRest as we are also trying to improve our user’s quality of rest.
The Hypnap TruRest is a device both for rest and for use with mobile devices and dramatically increases the user’s comfort while using mobile devices.
The only alternative is to hold the mobile device up with one’s arms to eye level and this is really only realistic with tablets or smaller mobile devices, not with laptops. This action puts strain on the arms, neck and shoulders.
Most laptop stands do not hold a mobile device up to eye level, are not highly adjustable, do not support a range of different sizes and types of mobile devices and are bulky and thus not suited to travel.
Why should you pay almost a thousand dollars for a tablet, and end up with a neck ache and arms too tired to use them?
Technology and consumer goods companies do not typically consider ergonomics and how people use their products in their everyday lives. Sad, isn’t it?
Luckily, ergonomics is a chief concern here at Hypnap! The ergonomically designed opening on the face plate of the TruRest allows one to breathe comfortably and see clearly, even while wearing eyeglasses. It’s easy to read or work while resting in the TruRest – just ease your body onto the chest support, place your face comfortably on the face plate and place your laptop, tablet or other mobile device on the surface below.
The TruRest also functions as a mobile device stand. Unlike most mobile device stands the TruRest has the ability to place mobile devices at eye level, is highly adjustable, and accommodates a range of different mobile device types and sizes from iPhones to tablets the size of the Surface Pro 4.
Surface Pro 4 in tablet mode
The TruRest is also lightweight (18 oz.) and folds up to the length of a tablet for easy carriage.
TruRest with cushions on top iPad
TruRest with cushions next to iPad
TruRest w/o cushions on top of iPad
On the bottom of the face plate a shelf can be lowered where one can rest a mobile device and at the top of the face plate there are clips to secure the mobile device. This allows one to rest leaning back in the seat and view one’s mobile device at eye level.
One can also adjust the height, proximity and angle of the tablet by simply customizing the adjustments on the TruRest. This is so much better than having to strain your eyes and neck to look down at your laptop, especially on low tables such as those found on airplanes and trains. It’s also much more comfortable than holding up your tablet at eye level – arms get tired!
The next time you’re out and about with your tablet or other mobile device – at a café, at home, in the classroom or even at the office, use the TruRest to create more comfort.
At a cafe...
In the office...
Now you can enjoy some of the same amenities that you appreciate when using your desktop, such as eye level screen viewing and a variety of adjustment features, while using the TruRest with your mobile devices. This will truly enhance your comfort and health!
In the home...
Much opportunity also exists for the TruRest to be compatible with tracking devices. We at Hypnap look forward to exploring the possibilities and will keep you updated!
Why Experimentation is Important for Product Development
By Chloe Hill
January 19, 2016
Experimentation is crucial to product development and arriving at the best solution to a problem. Working this way can lead to “outside the box” thinking. It requires seeing the potential of something or using something for a purpose that it may not have originally been designed for.
It requires playing around and having some imagination. Children are great at this. To a child a cardboard box or an empty plastic bottle holds so many possibilities!
That is a state that many adults, particularly creative adults, are constantly trying to nurture within themselves. Seeing something fresh – almost to see it as if for the first time – with childlike wonder.
This is how many amazing new products get invented, created and developed.
Take, Bill Bowerman, co-founders of Nike. He sat down to breakfast one morning in 1971 and decided that a waffle maker could serve another purpose besides just making waffles.
The University of Oregon’s track was about to be replaced with an artificial surface prompting the need for a shoe that could grip without spikes. Also, as a track coach Bowerman was seeking a way to make a lighter, faster running shoe for the athletes he trained.
While making waffles with his wife that morning, Bowerman concluded that by turning the waffle iron upside down, so that the waffle indentations could protrude and theoretically grip the surface of the track, one could make an excellent shoe sole for a running shoe.
With that idea in mind he entered his lab, dismantled the waffle maker, mixed and poured urethane onto the back side of the waffle iron, and the Nike waffle trainer, a shoe that continues to be popular to this day, was born.
Experimentation is also crucial to Hypnap as we continue to develop and refine the TruRest.
For example, we are exploring a number of different materials for the TruRest cushions. In considering a delicate area such as the face, we want a material that is soft, non-toxic, and safe for contact with the skin and mucus membranes of the nose and eyes. We also want a material that is hypo-allergenic, breathable, anti-microbial, supportive, easy to clean and as eco-friendly as possible.
For our initial testing we went to Walgreens and bought bath sponges, gel shoe inserts and makup-up wedge sponges, cut them up and assembled each material to fit the face plate of the TruRest and then tested each one out.
Bath Sponge... cut up and assembled on TruRest
Gel Shoe Soles... cut up and assembled on TruRest
We found the make-up wedge sponges to be most comfortable, allowing equal distribution of weight and pressure, between the forehead and the cheeks. While we appreciated that property, the sponges are made of a synthetic foam and they irritated my skin after resting my face against them for long periods. This surprised me though because the sponges are designed specifically to apply and remove make-up from the skin! It’s a subject for another blog post but the skin care industry is one of the most unregulated. Please check out the Environmental Working Group for more information. Needless to say we didn’t want this for our TruRest!
assembled on TruRest
However, we were able to use the information that we gathered from that initial testing as a launch pad to explore more materials – this time ones that meet our strict standards. Two of those materials include Technogel and Mycoflex foam.
Technogel is a solid gel like material made from polyurthane but produced without plasticizer oils that is oderless, non-toxic and bio-compatible (meaning that it can be used in medical implant devices without harming human tissue). Technogel also provides thermal regulation to keep the skin cool and avoid overheating. This will be important as the face will come in contact with the cushions of the face plate of the TruRest for long periods. In addition it is bouyant and supportive allowing weight to be distributed evenly as the pressure of the face is placed on its surface, kind of like a memory foam mattress. This is very important component in the comfort of the TruRest, so that no one area of the face, be it the cheeks, forehead or chin, takes the brunt of the force of the weight and pressure. Humanscale and Steelcase, renown companies that design and manufacture ergonomic office furniture, currently use Technogel in their office chairs and other products.
A company called Ecovative that develops and produces earth friendly materials is currently advancing a product that we are also exploring called Mycoflex that will soon be released to the market.
Mycoflex is made entirely of mycelium (the vegetative part of fungus) so it is essentially made of mushrooms! Being completely plant based it is non-toxic and biodigradable, compostable and rapidly renewable. Ecovative intends for Mycoflex to be used in seat cushions, shoe soles, yoga mats etc.
We also experimented with a material called Ariaprene, a hypo-allergenic, non-toxic and eco-friendly high performance foam that is used in bags, athletic shoes and equipment but we found it to be too stiff.
Ariaprene sewn into cushions.
We will keep you updated as we continue to keep you updated as we experiment with more materials.
What kind of material would you want to rest your face against?
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