Dealing with menstrual pain and difficulties: holistic experiences using a heating wearable device for management of menstrual pain

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Collaborative and Industrial Design
The main purpose of this thesis is to develop an understanding of women’s experiences during menstruation. The research questions are: how to improve the experience of using a wearable device that heats the abdomen and the back to relieve menstrual pain; what should be considered when designing such a product for relieving menstrual period pain. This thesis is based on the ‘Hottie’ project, which involved conceptually designing a skirt for menstrual pain. The skirt has two heating pads – one for the abdomen and one for the back – which can be heated up to 42 °C. A working prototype was produced for the ‘Wearable Electronics and Fashion’ summer course in 2015, so the main purpose of the research in this thesis is focused on how to make a skirt that can be worn more consistently, on a regular basis in real life. The thesis includes a study of the literature on menstrual period pain and interviews with women about their perceptions of menstrual periods in order to build a general understanding about what women experience during their periods. It continues with a brief study of wearable devices and period-related products, followed by a multi-staged study of active user involvement. The latter began with user testing of the current prototype. A co-creation workshop and a cultural probe on periods were then carried out. From the research, the ‘Blood pal’ concept and an app related to periods was introduced. User testing of these was then conducted using the inVision prototype. During the research process, a total of seven participants were involved in the qualitative research, and two participated in all the research phases of the process. As a result, the Hottie app, which controls the Hottie wearable device and functions as a holistic support for women during menstrual periods, was implemented at the prototype level. Hottie predicts the start of the menstruation cycle by measuring body temperature with an everyday sensor located in a Bluetooth earphone or a wearable device, such as Fitbit. The app includes the ‘Blood pal’ function, so women can get support from each other, e.g. sharing tampons and information about the nearest toilets, and finding deals on period-related products – from hygiene products to chocolates. It The ultimate aim to make menstruation a better experience. Valuable insights were gained throughout the research, and Six Guidelines for designing related to menstrual periods.
Lucero, Andres
Thesis advisor
Mizutani, Michihito
wearable device, service design, user experience, co-creation, design probe, design for women, user centred design
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