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Sensory Processing Disorder [SPD] is a neurological condition wherein people have difficulties with taking in, processing, and responding to sensory information about the environment and from within the own bodies. This type of neurological misalignment is known to affect a large range of people from attention deficit disorder, learning disabilities, hypersensitivity, to those with hypo-sensitivities such as autism. SPD is a growing issue: Twenty-five years ago it was estimated that 5-10% of children were affected. Currently 12-30% children are diagnosed with SPD.

This project was an investigation into wearable technologies that might be used in therapeutic regimes for people with SPD. To this end, we have conducted research with people who have SPD in the design process.

The InflataCorset is a heart rate sensor-initiated inflatable corset. The corset uses heart rate as an indicator for stress, and responds by pumping air into the corset to increase the sensation of pressure on the user. This is meant to both provide bio-feedback to the user that they are having a stress response and also to help calm them down with the reassuring pressure. The external pressure of the vest on the skin calms the nervous system and returns the heart back to a resting rate. The instant relaxation from the corset is a type of therapeutic that can be applied to many populations.

In 1965, Temple Grandin Ph.D., developed the deep touch pressure device (“squeeze machine”) to help herself overcome problems of over-sensitivity to touch, and calm anxiety. This device was an V-shaped bed with a hand held control to monitor the inflatable pressure. It tested positive as a relaxation aid for children with SPD.

Now, The InflataCorset is like a wearable version of the “squeeze machine,” but with bio-metric control. An increase in heart rate controls the initiation of inflation and then, the corset inflates for 20 seconds to build uniform pressure. The external force creates biofeedback and retrains a deep diaphragmatic breathing pattern which calms the nervous system.

The InflataCorset uses a wireless Polar Heart Rate Sensor in conjunction with Dan Julio’s Polar Heart Rate Monitor and an Arduino Nano to measure heart rate. The inflation mechanism of the InflataCorset was made by modifying a blood pressure cuff so that its air pressure sensor and air pump is sensed and controlled by the Arduino Nano. We used Firmata firmware on the Arduino so that we could customize the code to the physical specifications of different individuals. The inflatable vest is constructed from fusing recycled, plastic packaging into a honeycomb design.

Manufacturing the InflataCorset will be a reasonable cost after more research to streamline the function of the air pump with the form. We would like to run another series of tests for the final design. For the prototype, the software and hardware is available for ~$400, and will decrease when we create custom design for mass production. The reuse of plastics will need to be investigated in larger quantities.


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  • Name:
    Kristin Neidlinger
  • Type of entry:
  • Profession:
  • Number of times previously entering contest:
  • Kristin's favorite design and analysis tools:
    pen and paper . nature . humans . humans in nature . collaboration . design research
  • For managing CAD data Kristin's company uses:
  • Kristin's hobbies and activities:
    dance . performance . improvisation . yoga
  • Kristin belongs to these online communities:
    facebook . LinkedIn . Google+ . diapora
  • Kristin is inspired by:
    With a background in physical therapy, people are the inspiration for my designs. I endeavor to heighten or calm sensory awareness and create an emotional impact with modern technology.

    Design is a dialog. Design research with people is essential in the prototype stage, to test ideas in rapid response to what people need/desire.

    Recycling, reuse, and reinventing of materials is an important consideration in production.
  • Software used for this entry:
    processing, photoshop
  • Patent status: