pulse wearables
Incubated at MIT Launch 2017, Pursued Independently
Individual & Team Project
problem
Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a heart condition that is the leading cause of sudden death among high performing athletes, forces passionate youngsters to completely give up  physical activity upon diagnosis due to high risk. Physical activity within a threshold would be low risk, however there are no tools that offer that freedom or peace of mind to the patient.
solution
A wearable patch with preventative alert that helps users continue being physically active while maintaining safety.

The product I designed is non-invasive, inconspicuous wearable patch worn on the chest that has the ability to store the threshold/max heart rate (determined by a cardiologist through testing) fed through a mobile app. The patch alerts the user through a gentle vibration when heart rate reaches the threshold giving freedom and control to the patient, enabling them to resume some physical activity at safe levels.
why
I experienced the problem first-hand when my 12 year pre-professional ballet training came to an abrupt end with a HCM diagnosis. I had to put a complete stop to my ballet training and dancing now knowing when I would reach the unsafe levels of activity. There were no products on the market that would give me the control and freedom to continue being active at safer levels.
process
1.

identifying the problem
When I was diagnosed with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy at the peak of my pre-professional ballet training, I was told to completely give up the training that I enjoyed. There was a level of activity that was considered safe for me -- a threshold -- heart rate below 140 beats per minute. However, there was no easy way to monitor my heart rate when it exceeded the threshold while dancing without wearing bulky accessories, so undesirable for ballet. A strong desire to continue my passion at safe levels created a need.
2.

primary market research
After identifying the problem, I interviewed 30+ people with related heart conditions to validate the need beyond my own experiences. There are 500,000 people in the US with HCM in the 15-50 age group and another 16 million people in the US who experience irregular heart rhythms.
3.

ideation + selection
The solution I felt most effectively solved the need was simple: an unobtrusive wearable that would alert the user when their heart rate exceeds their safe maximum heart rate. I starting with sleeker and less obtrusive forms of traditional wearables However, the need for it be inconspicuousness was high priority which led me to explore the idea of wearable patches worn out of sight. The key parameters considered were  bulk, sensor location, size, reusability /disposable, and comfort.
4.

competitive analysis
Understanding the saturated landscape of wearables and medical devices, I performed in-depth competitive analysis on both bases of form and function. This helped to further define our value proposition.
5.

non-functional prototype
To convey the form of the product that I was initially exploring, I created a simple, non-functional prototype.
6.

functional prototype
The first functional prototype was built with Arduino -- the piezo buzzer sounding when the user's heart rate exceeded the thresholds, roughly in real-time.

Performed extensive testing and iteration upon this prototype – including the sensor, alert, and connectivity.
7.

targeted user + market research
Through surveys and interviews, we gained specific insight about the real experiences of thousands of HCM patients and loved ones.

In addition to user research, we have a view into the fast-moving market and performing perpetual competitive research.
8.

design, tech, & medical research
Going deeper into the development of the wearable, we dedicated a summer researching the form, learning about materials for the hardware, usability, the possibilities and constraints of the hardware, and the scientific/medical side of the problem.
9.

developing our mvp
With more clarity on the direction, we are currently developing an MVP: an app for the Apple Watch what would test the core of our solution.