Reflections from the Global Health Track of the Grand Hack!

By May 22, 2015 October 13th, 2018 Uncategorized

Developing solutions for global issues is difficult without cultural
context. The Grand Hack gave our team a chance to understand the
cultures we were designing for by bringing people with experiences and
expertise from all over the world, together. Our team’s goal was driven
by Lydia Asiimwe’s story and her near death experience from falling off a
Ugandan motorcycle taxi (boda-boda).

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We took a user-centric design approach and started by trying to
understand everything we could about the people, environment,
transportation history, and the culture surrounding Uganda by
interviewing Lydia about her experience. This framework allowed us to
derive the following concept drivers: (1) women in Uganda are required
to sit side saddle as it is deemed inappropriate otherwise (2) they wear
long dresses with material that makes it very easy to slide off the
motorcycle with the slightest bump (3) When you are carrying anything,
you exponentially increase your chance of injury because you have to
hold on with one hand, or you are crowding the available space on the
motorcycle, decreasing the control the driver has. Our goal became “how
do we prevent injury and trauma for women who have to sit side straddle
on a boda-bodas in rural Uganda”.

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Next, we started to dive deeper into the culture of the people as well
as that of boda-bodas to understand how we could approach solving the
problem. We moved from designing something that people could carry
around, approaches for manufacturers to make motorcycles safer, and
eventually decided that an accessory to current boda-bodas would be the
most sustainable and adoptable approach.

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After understanding what type of materials and manufacturing techniques
were available in Uganda, we started to sketch and prototype around many
different ideas. We landed on the L shaped brace that attaches to the
sister bar (a common part on most motorcycles) that gives the side
saddle user comfort, storage space, and safety during their ride. This
same brace can also rotate into a second “mode” that allows for extra
storage space when there isn’t someone sitting side saddle.

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The greatest success of our team is its diversity and experience. We are
composed of an Industrial Designer (Ayan Bhandari) Who brought
Ximedica’s user-centric design approach, a Biomedical Engineer (Blesson
John) who works in Global Health, a public health specialist (Anu
Mather) that has worked with implementing programs in different
cultures, and a user (Lydia Asiimwe) who has experienced every detail of
the problem we were trying to solve. We believe that “Good design is not about what you can do, it’s about what you should do”
and we continue to work on Nyweza (Ugandan for “hold on tight”) to
create a prototype that we can get onto boda-bodas in Uganda in the near
future.

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