The very first week of the Vibe-ing project was one of exploration and preparation.

Project description

As the garment prototype was created in collaboration with the Textile Lab in Tilburg, we decided to have a look around at both the textile museum and lab to gain some textile inspiration. Although I’ve lived in Tilburg for 5 years, I must admit that I actually never visited the museum. What a shame, because it is definitely one of the coolest museums I’ve been to! In the textile lab, which is also open to visitors of the museum, the experts are willing to explain you everything you want to know on fibers, wool, different handicrafts, and much more. They also showed, for example, how digital patterns are composed and used to weave and knit all sorts of fabrics. One of those was a smart textile, using conductive threads (more on that later!). Indeed innovative and inspiring, and the nice shop made me want to buy… well about everything they sold.

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Three of us (Derec, Indre, Carmen) were also very lucky to be accepted to the ArchIntex conference on smart textiles in Ronse, Belgium. The conference was hosted by TIO3 in their beautiful textile centre, a renovated old hospital. We encountered a lot of lovely examples of smart textiles, ranging from colour-changing dresses based on temperature (made with thermochromic ink) to vibrating pillows for the elderly. Interesting talks were given, for example by Patrice Vandendaele from Devan Chemicals. They produce sustainable applications for the textile industry, such as probiotic textiles to battle dust mite allergies. A good example of how innovations and findings from the lab can be applied in real life products through collaboration. Hopefully one that we will see more often in the future.

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A bit less able to fire imagination perhaps, but just as important, was the literature study that followed. We searched both academic journals and more popular scientific articles for everything that had to do with menopause, vibrations and osteoporosis.

Affinity diagram gathering information from various stakeholdersLastly, to explore how ‘real’ women experience(d) their menopause, we interviewed – using a semi-structured interview – five women who are currently undergoing menopause, or have already overcame it. In this way, we gained a lot of information on when their menopauses started, how they experienced it, what their ailments were, and how they treated them. The interviews were used to create an experience map, which in turn will be used to create a persona and protocols for the expert interviews with (more info next week!).

In the following stages of the project we are going to extend the diagrams we started building now with the information from the experts of relevant fields (rehabilitation experts, physiotherapists, gynecologists, menopause consultants), to build up complete overview of the knowledge from all sources (experts, users, literature) we have in this project. This overview lets us identify the important links between different stakeholders, as well as possible conflict points we can turn into design opportunities.