SALUS is a full body interactive chair designed to help young adults cope more adaptively with depressive symptoms and anxiety brought by the Covid-19 lockdown measures.
Watch the video below to see the summary video.
Industrial Designer, Solo Project
Sep 2020 - Apr 2021
The design concept must afford the usage or interactions with a minimum of 3 major external body-part areas. Major body-part areas are defined as the following: Head, neck, arms, shoulders, back region, lumbar region, and legs.
How might we cope more adaptively with depressive symptoms?
Currently, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, having more than 264 million people of all ages suffer form depression. World Health Organization has stated that close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year making it the second leading cause of death in 15-29 year olds.
Substance abuse, major traumatic events, and changes in life stages are all common triggers for depression and anxiety. However, maladaptive coping methods such as excessive overthinking, withdrawal, and avoiding help are proven to be the primary causes. This is especially true in young adults where these traits are more common than any other age group.
A preliminary survey was sent out to 32 young adults between the ages of 21-29. The survey was done to see which coping methods young adults with depression used.
Participants with Clinical Depression: 6
Participants with depression (self diagnosed + clinical): 17
All Participants: 32
Answers for question 11: Which of these options would you say helped the most?
According to the survey both exercise & talking to a loved one were the most common and helpful coping mechanisms.
On October 27 2020 a meeting was set up with an advisor who works as a psychotherapist.
“We as therapist say that the best combination is therapy and medication because your serotonin levels in your brain diminish very quickly.”
- Psychotherapist, Christine Kim
Christine also mentions how journaling can be very helpful. Not only does it help individuals process their grief, but it also helps them get work done.
According to the preliminary survey “getting work done” was one of the hardest parts of the day.
“…seeing it and writing it out instead of holding it in is good. Because you are going to carry “it” wherever you go, and it is not that once you write it out its not a problem anymore, but once you write it, it’s out there. It’s visible. It’s tangible almost. For some people it’s all they think about, but once you’ve written it, you’ve done it. And now I can focus on my assignment for school…”
The needs of young adults with depression were gathered and assessed. They were separated into 3 categories: immediate needs, latent needs, and wants/wishes.
The immediate needs were emotional support and coping/processing grief effectively. This can be done with a therapist, journaling, or talking to a loved one. The next was latent needs. Looking at ways to boost serotonin levels apart from medication. Natural ways to boost serotonin can be done through hugging and getting proper exercise. Lastly, a core want/wish is to get work done efficiently.
A list of current products on the market were looked at and compared, on a chart using the needs analysis.
In the products listed none focused on both needs of emotional support and physical exercise thoroughly.
The initial idea started with a robot that could help with therapy to sort out problems, as well as a personal trainer to help the user stay disciplined and exercise consistently.
The concept then evolved into an interactive desk with a virtual therapist and a simple exercise seat. From here a smart chair and a smart desk were designed, which then evolved into the final product.
Once the concept was chosen, it was then refined and further fleshed out.
1:1 ERGONOMIC MEASUREMENTS
An ergonomic study was done to find out dimensions and part placement. The design uses different movements using arms, hands and legs for exercising. This creates several problems around where parts should be placed. Certain features were moved to avoid blocking the user from carrying out certain exercises. Weights are also heavy, which creates more issues regarding placement and balance.
The 1:1 ergonomic study helped discover several problems that would come from the initial design.
major findings were:
Middle backrest should be 10” in width to allow for cable row and bench press
Not enough space for flip out armrest. Bench press sliders need more space. Armrests can instead come out from bottom.
Needs support under feet to allow user to rest their weight on it.
Back support needs to be narrower to allow for arms to pull back
The ergonomic issues were resolved, and the dimensions were used in the new design below.
Now that the workability of the chair was finalized, the new goal was to focus on the aesthetics. The aim was to make the chair more futuristic, rounder/friendlier, and less rudimentary.
Once the design and measurements were finalized it was drawn on Solidworks to the specific measurements.
FULL BODY HUMAN INTERACTION
Salus meets the design criteria by interacting with more than three major external body part areas. By helping the user exercise, Salus utilizes the users’ arms, back, chest and legs. Salus allows the user to work out their entire body all from the comfort of their own smart chair.
THERAPEUTIC PRESSURE TO RELIEVE ANXIETY
Salus applies pressure to the body which has been proven to relieve anxiety (ex. weighted blankets) and boost serotonin levels.
The lumbar support and neck support design incorporate smart technology similar to massage chairs. 6 rubber therapy balls are located behind a stretchable neoprene fabric, and pushed forward to morph into the shape of the user’s spine. The shape can be adjusted, which allows for the backseat to be flat for bench-press and other exercises.
Throughout the research it was discovered that journaling and “getting it out there” helps against excessive rumination. Salus can connect the user to an online therapist, and record the users voice if needed. This allows the user to vent out his'/her problems and can also act as a recorded journal for when a therapist is not available. Through an app the information is stored and can be sent to the therapist.