User driven innovation in the development of welfare technology

A sensor technology applied to training equipment for citizens with chronicle neck pains has been developed by the researchers of the University of Southern Denmark.
The idea and the aim of the sensors were to help citizens with chronicle muscle pains to keep on doing their everyday exercises. The sensors register the use of the equipment and leeks the information to the physiotherapist. That means that the physiotherapist knows if the client has been doing his/her “homework” and she can browse the data and see if the exercises are done correctly or if something needs to be adjusted. This is useful information for the physiotherapist in order to provide the best guidance for the citizen in order to decrease the pains of the citizen. Also the sensor technology is used to guide the users during an exercise session. As a part of the development process I got into the process of figuring out how the sensor technology integrated in standard and simple training equipment would work in a real scenario with real users and physiotherapists that needed to use the equipment with their clients. The project is a part of the partnership UNIK and the projects within.

Download publication UNIK partnership
We are very excited about the unique observations and opinions, which are sorted and grouped into categories. All the raw information in the form of observations, interviews and results from questionnaires is valuable as we continue working on the sensor technology, design and software. It allows us to use the results here and now, without having to read and relate us to a long report. It is clear that the professional expertise of the user involvement gives us engineers and technicians new and valuable insights.
(Karina T. Therkildsen, forsknings-, projekt- og studiesekretær, Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Instituttet, 2013)

Prototype of the sensor integrated at a Stabilizer

Exercises with Stabilizer


Workshop with users


Output of Workshop

In cooperation with Benefit in Frederikshavn a workshop, interviews and tests where carried out involving a physiotherapist and clients of the centre. The kick-start of the process was to gain insight in the everyday life of a citizen with chronicle neck and muscle pains – which obstacles and barriers are the citizens having and how are their experience with having sensors and technology applied to their training equipment? Why do some skip their exercise when they know it is good for them? Can technology motivate the citizen to do the exercises? Which factors affect the motivation positively and negatively in the everyday life? How would the perfect exercise session be? The workshop resulted in a clarification of the challenges of living a life with a chronic muscle pain, wishes, needs and demands of the exercise equipment and a bunch of ideas for how to integrate sensor technology into everyday exercise equipment in order to keep the up being motivated to do the exercises that keep the chronicle pains on a steady level.

Output of user research

The output of the user driven innovation process was presented to the developers at Southern University of Denmark. As a part of the presentation of the results “a deck of playing cards” where delivered to the developers. Each card contained unique quotes, insight, problems and ideas from the users. “Grab a hand of cards and start the ideation of concepts”. The experiences of the process was gathered as an article in the publication “Super Users” which was executed by the “User innovation” team of the UNIK project.