MFA Advanced Product Design | Umeå Institute of Design | 2018 | Master thesis | 20 weeks individual project | in collaboration with Dräger Safety
Rescue divers' main task is to salvage objects and dead people from waters. During their work, divers are exposed to an inhuman environment - there is no air, the sight is limited to only few centimeters and they are often surrounded by dangerous objects. Moreover, the access to information and communication to the team on shore is often compromised, even though it is crucial for a safe and successful dive.
Dräger viive is a product family that extends rescue divers’ vision and provides greater protection.
The main component is a modular full-face diving mask that can be adapted to the user’s needs. Due to its small size, it is less disturbing than competing products. The most important information is displayed through an attachable head up display. A hood with integrated safety pads protects the diver’s head on missions. The diver’s vision is further enhanced by a LED-light that can be attached to the hand.
How might we create a holistic concept to improve rescue divers` safety and vision as well as the information flow?
Dräger viive full-face diving mask
Analogue main component
The Dräger viive diving mask is reduced to the most essential components, while featuring several ports to attach additional equipment, such as a camera, light, head up display or communication unit.
Due to the shape of the rubber body around the nose, divers can perform pressure equalization in the most natural and comfortable way.
The quick-release clips allow the diver to take off the mask during their mission without having to constantly readjust the length of the straps.
Additional equipment, such as a light and camera, can be attached to the mask. Hereby the mask can be adjusted to the user‘s needs.
The light and camera can be twisted in place using a bayonet fixing mechanism.
An attachable microphone allows the diver to communicate to the team on shore. Hereby, the dive is safer for the diver and the team has the chance to prepare for the next steps ahead of time.
The speaker is an integrated part of the protection hood. It can be slid into the patch of the hood that is covering the ear from the inside.
In order not to distort the view underwater, the visor has to be flat. Curved visors can easily lead to a feeling of sickness and hence cannot be used in a professional context.
Diving mask easily become foggy. Therefore, the air that the diver breaths in is first directed over the lens in order to avoid fog.
Head up display
The head up display can be clicked onto the mask from the inside. Hereby, the product is not directly confronted with the harsh environment and can be precisely positioned.
The information is reflected into the eye through a fresnel structure that is integrated into the lens of the mask. Since the eye of the user is not always positioned in the same place, a little wheel allows the user to adjust the position of the interface if needed.
Head up display interface
Easy access to crucial information
The head up display (HUD) shows the most crucial information during the dive. The mask can either measure the values itself (e.g. the temperature) or receives the information via bluetooth (e.g. the gas pressure).
The HUD is a substitute for the diving computer that is usually worn around the wrist. This makes the information more accessible and creates freedom in movement.
Dräger viive protection hood
Integrated safety patches
The viive protection hood is a substitute for the commonly used neoprene hood.
It consists of safety patches that absorb shock. The patches are made of two different materials: A flexible outer material called „D30“ that becomes rigid on impact and an inner layer of memory foam that absorbs shock.
The air exhausts at the top of the hood allow captured air to release during the diver. Until common hoods, the air exhausts are not blocked by the rubber straps of the hood.
Dräger viive hand accessory
External light source
Even though you can attach a light to the mask, having an additional light at the hand allows the diver to direct the light to where it is needed most. This solution is much slimmer than competing products and hereby provides freedom in movement.
talking to six different user groups
User-centered design through research, feedback, shadowing and co-creation
Since professional diving is a very specific task that is essential to be understood in depth in order to create a valuable product, I followed a user-centered design approach throughout the project.
I talked to six different user groups:
• Taucher Hock (construction divers)
• Deutsche Rote Kreuz (rescue divers)
• DLRG (rescue divers)
• Johanniter (rescue divers)
• Submaris (research divers)
• Berufsfeuerwehr HH-Billstedt (rescue divers)
After conducting intense ethnographic research, I decided to focus on rescue divers. They represent a large user group and have the most general tasks, such as pulling (mostly dead) bodies out of the water or salvaging vehicles. Their equipment could easily be adapted to more specified user groups, such as construction divers.
Dräger Panorama Nova Dive
The starting point of my project was the design of the next generation of
full-face diving masks. Therefore, I analysed Dräger‘s latest full-face diving
mask in depth. Hereby, I got a better understanding of the technical requirements.
I analyzed copetitor's product to find out what is the state-of-the-art.
The online-benchmarking showed that the products are all similarly technologically advanced.
Immersing myself to the underwater world
I went diving twice; once with sport equipment and once with professional full-face diving masks to get an impression of what it is like to dive. I could test the Dräger Panorama Nova Dive as well as most of the competitor's products which gave me insights into the benefits of different features and shapes.
Trade fair "Boot"
To see and test the latest diving equipment, I went to the trade fair "Boot" in Düsseldorf, Germany. It allowed me to see trends within sports diving that could be equally interesting for professional tools. Moreover, I could talk to rescue divers from the German lifesaving association "DLRG" and the Red Cross.
the core design challenge
Designing on a post-it level
I created concept ideas on a post it level in order to summarize the ideas that occured during a first ideation phase. Afterwards, I chose five and merged them with some of the abandomed ideas.
I further developed the five most interesting ideas on a sketch level. With help of my collaboration partner and users I chose the best concept to proceed with.
Key concept: Protection
Research showed that it is essential to develop a holistic system before designing individual products. With this in mind, I created the "Protection" concept. Therefore, my brief got extended to a product family instead of only a full-face diving mask. I merged the concept with details of others in order to make it more adaptable to the user and to increase the functionality.
What needs to be designed?
Development of the mask
To get a feeling for the dimensions and shapes in 3D, I made use of the flexibility of clay. I combined it with existing components for the right dimensions.
I switched to foam in order to create more rigid components that visualize the dimensions rather than the shape. It was durable enough to transport it to Germany for feedback from users.
Since the foam model did not reflect the shape I had in mind, I created several sketches that I discussed with users to get helpful feedback to make decisions and refine the concept.
In parallel, I developed the details, such as technical mechanism and prototyped them quickly to see if the ideas are feasible.
Development of head up display interface
1:1 head up display
I tried to simulate the experience of a HUD by making transparent layers that I could use to draw the interface upon. Unfortunately, it was impossible to focus on such a short distance.
1:6 head up display
Next, I scaled up the prototype and marked areas in order to find out where the information should be displayed. The areas felt too restricting for the test.
1:6 head up display II
Therefore, I created a refined prototype in form of a laser-cut pane of plexi-glass. Ten probands that were wearing the current diving mask marked on the glass were they found the information least distrubing and easy to reach.
Head up display workshop
In collaboration with rescue diver Sven from the Johanniter, I further developed the interface. I projected a first draft on a wall in order to create a underwater-atmosphere and a 1:1 HUD experience.
We explored the positioning of the visuals as well as the graphics, colours and brightness. The latter should be adaptable to the brightness underwater.
Development of the head protection
Ideation workshop with classmates
To develop initial concepts for the viive head protection, I organized an ideation workshop with classmates. After some intense minutes of sketching and discussing ideas, everyone individually refined one concept and built a mock-up model. Finally, the prototypes were presented and discussed with the group.
Development of the hand accessory
The initial idea was a glove with integrated lights in the fingertips.
I wanted to test if you actually see more, so I built a prototype.
Since all waters in Umeå were frozen, I needed to build my own setup which I call the „artificial lake“.
I took the biggest container available and filled it with water, dust from the wood workshop and food colouring.
I dived in and turned the light on and off. I filmed the experience from underwater using a GoPro. Looking at a footage, I could see a strong benefit of diving with an external light.
Attachable hand accessory
After conversations with users, I decided that a glove is not the solution, because you would need different sizes, neoprene thicknesses etc.
Hence, it became an accessory that should be worn around the glove instead. This solution reduces the complexity of the product.
Working with users
the core of this project
During my ethnographic research, I talked to six different user groups. I went back to three of them for shadowing, feedback and further questions throughout the project. Moreover, I talked to engineers, production line employees and equipment trainers to hear all stakeholder's requirements.
I would particularly like to thank the Johanniter Eutin, the fire fighters Hamburg-Billstedt and the research divers Christian and Jana!
Johanniter EutinThe Johanniter in Eutin have been especially helpful because they were my core target group. They were also the biggest user group I talked to. I had the chance to follow them on a training session and approach them frequently with questions and for feedback.
Fire fighters Hamburg-BillstedtThe fire fighter divers in Hamburg-Billstedt have lots of experience, since they work full-time on 24/7 shifts multiple days per week.
I had the chance to visit them for research as well as feedback throughout the project.
Christian / submaris & JanaChristian and Jana are research divers working all over the world but mainly in german waters such as the Baltic see. Christian is also an underwater camera man. Even though I focused on rescue divers, talking to research divers and seeing their equipment has been extremely benefitial for the project because it allowed me to see the project from a different angle.
For presentation purposes, I build a final model of my design concept.
Presenting and exhibiting at UID18
I had the chance to pitch and exhibit my project at the degree show UID18.
Show me more!