Marina – Persona

Please meet our persona, Marina. Marina was created from the interviews with 5 women in (post)menopause. She was extremely useful in affirming with the experts whether we correctly interpreted the women’s interviews. Also, it helped the experts to imagine a typical patient/client and to expand from there.

Marina - persona

Marina is 51 years old. She has been married for 25 years and she has 2 children of 24 and 27 years old who are both studying in another part of the country. She works part-time in administration. About a year ago she noticed that her menstruation became more irregular. At about the same time she started experiencing hot flashes and increased sweating at night. She has also observed a change in her body shape (she gained some weight) and she feels as if her joints have become less flexible.

Marina didn’t think about the menopause before and also did not expect it. Only when her menstruations became more irregular she realized what was happening. Although she was happy to see her periods become less frequent, she also felt a bit melancholic about it, as this was also the end of her fertile period. Emotionally, Marina must admit that has been rather irritable lately; she cries easily, and she is troubled by mood swings.

Jan, Marina’s partner, also became aware of her bodily and emotional changes and supports her where he can. However, Marina talks about her symptoms mostly with her older sister and her best friend, who are experiencing similar symptoms. She likes the fact that she can share her thoughts with them and feels it’s important to do so and get some emotional support.

Marina decided to do more sports, so she currently swims, does aerobics and she walks a lot. She started to wear more loose, airy and cotton clothes. Her gynaecologist (/GP), who she visited a couple of times, did some tests to measure her hormone levels. Although her sister got a prescription for calcium tablets, she did not. She also did not take any other prescribed medicine so far. She did start taking a natural medicine to increase vitamin D and calcium levels and to reduce the sweating.

Vibe-ing Product Description

Let us introduce you the vibe-ing product in short. More on the product description here.

Shoulder + spine vibratory motors Chest area vibratory motorsVibe-ing is a garment knitted out of merino wool. It currently contains 17 knitted pockets, equipped with electronic circuit boards with sensors (touch sensors) and actuators (vibration motors). The common placement of the sensors are on 3 body locations – shoulder area, lower part of the spine and chest area. The arrangement of the sensors is as following: 6 vibratory motors are placed across the shoulder area (transverse stripe), 3 vibratory motors are placed on the lower part of the spine and 8 motors are allocated symmetrically at the chest area.

Since the vibe-ing is currently designed in a tubular – dress-like – shape, it offers a flexibility in wearing the garment in different ways (upside down, back to the front) and therefore also an ability to apply the actuators on different body parts. The sensors and actuators are connected with each other by a conductive thread which is a part of the knitted design of the whole garment.

Vibe-ing garment (Photo: Kristi Kuusk)

Vibe-ing garment (Photo: Kristi Kuusk)

The sensors and actuators can be easily programmed using the Arduino platform. The sensors and vibratory motors currently display one initial behavior based on a ripple pattern (similar to a wave in the water or sound travelling through air). A vibration would start in the pocket that was touched by the person wearing the garment. Then, slowly the vibration would transfer to the surrounding pockets, until it faded away after a certain period. It is therefore an open platform that offers many interaction opportunities for our team to work on.

Exploration & Preparation

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.


Hi there,

Welcome to our blog! Here we will keep you posted on our design case project, called Vibe-ing. We work on this project at the Eindhoven University of Technology, in cooperation with CRISP (Creative Industry Scientific Programme), Textiel Museum, TextielLab, and Metatronics. The main goal of Vibe-ing project is to explore the design space for smart textiles; a garment that can vibrate (see picture). Very low vibrations have been shown to strengthen muscles, which could help prevent osteoporosis. Therefore, we will focus on a target group that has a highly increased risk for osteoporosis: women in and after menopause.

Vibe-ing garment (Photo: Kristi Kuusk)

Vibe-ing garment (Photo: Kristi Kuusk)

Can smart textiles be useful for women in and after menopause? And how should they be applied? During this project, a full design cycle will be completed (i.e., ‘exploration/investigation’, ‘concept derivation’, ‘ prototype development’, ‘prototype testing and evaluation’, ‘finalizing’).

 But first, let’s get you familiar with the team members…

Indre KalinauskaiteIndre: environmental psychologist, researcher and designer with a main interest in healthcare environments design and light psychology & design. The possibility to help women to go through quite a big change in their life – menopause – is the reason she is extremely interested and motivated to be in the Vibe-ing team. She is looking forward to exploring the design space and defining the final concept of the Vibe-ing design.

Derec WuDerec: is an interaction designer and engineer, who has broad research interests in Human-Computer Interaction, mainly focusing on new Interaction Techniques. Regarding the Vibe-ing project, he is interested in designing smart/interactive textiles for the specific application domain.

Petr KosnarPetr: is a human-centered designer and HCI researcher focused on UX and interaction design, user research, and applied psychology. He is passionate about working on the Vibe-ing project, because the goal is not only to use technology to please people, but to help them to overcome complicated and unpleasant season of their life.

Dominika PotuzakovaDominika: is a user experience designer focusing on developing intelligent products, interactive systems and user-friendly services solutions in a medical care and well-being themes mainly. She spends her spare time by crafting and is currently using these skills to dive deeper into the development of wearable electronics and smart textiles. Therefore her professional as well as personal skills and interests brought her to work on the vibe-ing project where she hopes to add her designer value to the team work and product development.

Carmen van der ZwaluwCarmen: has a PhD in psychology and is always interested in creating and improving products that facilitate people’s lives. Loves talking to people to find out why they do what they do. Textiles, and especially knitting, is one of her latest passions. That she now can combine psychology and textiles makes her more than enthusiastic. 

Overall website:

TU/e team: Martijn ten Bhömer, Eunjeong Jeon, Oscar Tomico, Kristi Kuusk