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Foong Ling Chen

Foong Ling Chen

Akendi Alumnus

Rocket 2016

This past weekend, the Association of Chartered Industrial Designers of Ontario (ACIDO) hosted their 15th annual Rocket competition, a competition that recognizes outstanding talent and projects from Ontario’s graduating industrial designers. Each year the most deserving student is awarded a sponsored prize that highlights a crucial step of the design process. These awards range from problem identification to best pitch.

Rocket Competition at the Design Exchange in Toronto

Students displaying their thesis project at the Design Exchange in Toronto.

Akendi was honoured to be a part of this year’s competition. Dan Iaboni, our senior Experience Architect, had the joy of presenting the User Experience award, an award given to the student who demonstrated the most thoughtful consideration of their intended users.

The winner of the User Experience Award went to Rhys Jones for his project, Neonatal Care Design. Demonstrated through Rhys’ design was his understanding of new moms, her family, and the healthcare workers providing her support in the context of a small hospital room. Having conducted contextual inquiries at the Ottawa Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with nurses at the hospital and a new mother, Rhys was able to get a true representation of user requirements for his chair. The observations and feedback from user testing were formulated in the design of the chair and included features such as arm rests that allow for different hip widths, height adjustable neck pillow, and easy to clean and durable surfaces.

Dan presenting UX award

Dan Iaboni presenting the User Experience Award to Rhys Jones

Although there can only be one winner per category, there were definitely other projects worth mentioning: Shannon Kramer’s Standwich, a pivoting surgeon’s chair, addressed the fact that surgeries can last for hours on end taking a real toll on a surgeon’s body. Her chair design accommodates the surgeon whether they are sitting, standing or leaning; continuously supporting the surgeon throughout the operation. The idea was that the chair would adjust accordingly without the need of pulling on a lever with their hands, which is an essential no-no for obvious sanitary reasons. Through user testing, Shannon demonstrated the discovery of another critical requirement. She realized her design needed to address an auto brake system so the chair does not slide away when the surgeon leans against the seat.

Kurt Scanlan also deserved user experience recognition for his work on Spara, a small ambulance for the urban paramedic. His complete overhaul of the current ambulance demonstrated forethought in safety, comfort, and utility. In emergency situations, the attention is naturally given to the harmed individual, with very little regard for the paramedic. Kurt’s research demonstrated the unmet requirements of the paramedic and addressed their needs: to reach equipment and patient while being safely buckled in, to have a better integrated area to eat, rest, and write reports, and to get to the hospital smoother and quicker. Kurt didn’t take home the User Experience Award, but he did manage to take home three awards: Problem Identification & Research Award, Innovation Award, and the Rocket First Place Award. Congratulations, Kurt!

Here at Akendi we strongly stand by the user centred design process, so it was really satisfying to see many of the students involve their end users in their own product development process. Rocket showcased a great deal of commendable work. We are looking forward to next year’s event!

Foong Ling Chen

Foong Ling Chen

Akendi Alumnus


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About Akendi

Akendi is a human experience design firm, leveraging equal parts experience research and creative design excellence. We provide strategic insights and analysis about customer and user behaviour and combine this knowledge with inspired design. The results enable organizations to improve effectiveness, engage users and provide remarkable customer experiences to their audiences.