I have known since the beginning that I want to use bright colors in my final design concept due to their positive effect they can have on children’s focus, as well as making a design for children more playful, especially when it comes to one that has more of a developmental focus. For example, PT told me in our last meeting that there are many developmental devices that require straps in order to hold children in a certain position. These childrens’ parents do not want to see their child “strapped down”, so bringing in bright colors can help eliminate that scary element for both parent and child.
When it comes to material consideration, I am still thinking about different options while focusing on both the manufacturing process and the requirements that this product will need to meet. I have been leaning towards the idea of using silicone for the end product, but having it be made from solid silicone will be incredibly heavy in both cost and physical weight. So why not take advantage of the abilities that silicone has to offer?
The form will be hollow in certain areas, specifically at the “appendage” parts that stick out, and the silicone wall will be very thin at those points. The hollow spaces will be filled with either a gel or water, cut off internally from the rest of the piece so that it will not leak out. These softer areas can be used as head, leg, arm, or core support underneath the child as they play. The different densities will create different sensations for them while they lie down and play or practice working on developmental techniques such as “tummy time”. The center of the design will still be solid in order to keep the rigidity and support the rest of the parts.
Another possibility is to have these hollow regions filled with air, just like gertie balls that are commonly used during physical therapy sessions. There would be a way to adjust the amount of air that is inside, allowing different densities to be achieved depending on how much it is filled.
The entire form will be hollow, consisting of an external wall of silicone and an internal space filled approximately halfway with sand. When the piece is rotated in different directions for different uses by the child, gravity will cause the sand to fall down in to the base, keeping it sturdier and allowing it to sit more firmly on to the ground. The child will be able to work on their motor skills by gently pushing the piece over and the sand will give in to this movement, helping enhance the shift that they are already causing to occur. They will be able to feel and slightly hear the weight shift as they slowly turn it over.
The additional element of sand has the ability to create a stronger support system for the piece as a whole, as well as enhance the overall sensory experiences that the child will engage in while playing.
I will continue to play around with different organic forms by making CAD models and using them to print small 3D form models for stability and rotational testing. I want the design to be able to function on more then one side, allowing for a greater variety of use by the child in each of the forms.