18: Inventions for Mobility with Lise Pape

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In this episode, we have Lise, founder of Walk With Path. Lise was inspired to start the company after she witnessed the challenges her father faced with Parkinson’s disease. The company is focused on increasing mobility and preventing injuries. Lise shares with us how she generates ideas, why users and problems are at the heart of her design processes, and hear more about her journey to creating two physical products.

What you will learn in this episode:

– How the journey to Walk with Path began?
– Issues with current methods in mobility.
– What is Path Finder and Path Feel?
– The idea and implementation behind Path Finder and Path Feel.
– Processes for generating ideas.
– Funding for Walk with Path.
– Challenges of creating a physical product.

How the journey to Walk with Path began?

It started in 2014, when Lise had a student project that she was working on while studying innovation design & engineering in London. The final project was about mobility and improving mobility in people with various chronic conditions.

“This led to some interest from users and others which gave me the belief in taking the project forward.”

That same year, she decided to create a business, on the back of the initial student project.
Personal interests led Lise to choose to explore mobility. Her father has mobility issues with Parkinson’s disease and she wanted to test how she could positively impact the issue using design or technology as opposed to current methods.

“I’ve seen the different changes that have happened which were very severe.”

Issues with current methods in mobility

There are symptoms in Parkinson’s such as ‘freezing of gait’ which have limited drug treatments. This is when someone suddenly feels glued to the floor preventing them from taking another step.

“Current drug methods don’t really help to alleviate this symptom. They can a little bit, but there’s not much assistance during ‘off’ periods.”

Lise realised there were various coping strategies which people tried. One of which is cueing, where somebody comes and helps the patient by putting a foot in front of them that they can then use as a cue to step across. This observation led to the idea of having an independent design, which would lead to independence and allow more freedom.

What is Path Finder and Path Feel?

Path Finder is a visual cueing product attached to the shoe which provides to lead the cue in the walking path of the individual. They will see a green line that they can use as the cue to step across.

“It works well with persons with Parkinson’s but we’re also exploring it with other conditions such as stroke and other movement disorders.”

Path Feel provides vibrational feedback during walking which focuses on the population with balance issues. They’re aiming to launch the program in 2019.

The idea and implementation behind Path Finder and Path Feel.

These ideas are the result of a user-centered design process of iterative design. This means talking to, and spending time with users as well as doing interviews and performing thorough observations. Lise spoke to people with Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis, their family members, and healthcare professionals to fully understand the impact these conditions have on their daily lives. She tried to understand their problems and which solutions would be best fit them.

“I created ideas, then did testing to the design process that I followed to assess the principles very quickly. This ensures the ideas are validated before spending a lot of effort and time.”

Processes for generating ideas

When generating the idea, the first thing Lise did was research with the affected user groups and eventually developed a small test product and built upon it each time. People follow different processes but Lise believes this is the best process to fully engage in the problem before thinking about solutions.

“The problem should always be the first thing to focus on.”

Funding for Walk with Path

Their first funding round was from angel investors and a grant. At the moment, they’re carrying out their second round of funding.

They decided on the pricing of Path Finder based primarily on the cost of production. Given they’re producing small batches currently; their cost of production is high.

Challenges of creating a physical product

“I personally like tangible products and physical products.”

A physical product was essential for this problem. This is because our foot movements during walking have specific phases. Therefore, visual cueing needs to occur at specific times and a device needs to be placed on the foot for accurate projection.

“I did my own prototyping and I had no idea of how to do electronics. However, it was the only way I could solve the problem.”

Learn more about Walk With Path

www.walkwithpath.com

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