Bespoke Innovations – Scott Summit
Bespoke Fairings™ are specialized coverings that surround an existing prosthetic leg, accurately recreating the body form through a process that uses three-dimensional scanning to capture the unique leg shape. But while Fairings recreate the lost contour, they invite an expression of personality and individuality that has never before been possible.
Scott Summit, Industrial Designer
Christopher Campbell, CAD Design Engineer
We all loved this entry, it really opened the door to fashion through a different lens. We loved how it added the opportunity to embrace and express something that has the potential or desire to be masked. This design really made the technology surrounding a prosthetic ,personal, special and beautiful. Very inspiring and considered design.
1. Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the challenge posed to you? Did it get you excited and why?
Each of our bodies is unique, as are our tastes and styles. Humans are anything but one-size-fits-all, and we want to recognize that fact. We achieve this by creating products that allow our clients to personalize their prosthetic legs. Our hope is to enable our clients to emotionally connect with their prosthetic limbs, and wear them confidently as a form of personal expression. Our products turn something ordinary into something amazing.
The challenges come in several forms. First, there are no established road maps for mass customized parts, especially those relating directly to the body of an individual. So we're exploring the degree to which a user may influence the final design of their leg, and how much may be created using pre-existing templates. Beyond that, each prosthetic leg itself is a unique assembly of manufactured parts, meaning that even the most basic mechanical mounting hardware designs must be individually tailored. And additive fabrication, though growing into a mature industry, is by no means a stable, predictable technology. This makes it difficult to predict the survivability of the parts, since no two parts are at all alike, though all must be as lightweight as possible. Allowances must be factored in that accommodate the wide variability of the technology. Three-dimensional scanning is also fairly new, so we reinvented a 3D scanner so that it was affordable, transportable, and easily understood by the doctors and prosthetists who serve as our liasons to the amputee community.
2. What point of view did you bring to the challenge? Was there anything additional that you wanted to achieve with this project or bring to this project that was not part of the original brief?
This work has no precedent, so every aspect of it has evolved from an exploration. Our goal was to transform the prosthetic leg - something necessary but often resented by the wearer - into something cherished and befitting of the wearer. We seek to embody their body form, as well as their taste, their lifestyle, and their sense of self-expression in this adjunct body part.
3. When designing this project, whose interests did you consider? (Discuss various stakeholders, audiences, retailing, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, etc., for example.)
Every stakeholder presents a unique challenge in this process. The amputee is not a designer, yet we're requesting their thoughts and tastes in the design process, turning them into a de facto client throughout the process. The costs required to create such a custom device are also prohibitive to most of those in need, so we have explored every possible solution to reduce the cost to a more palatable level. Doctors and prosthetists also represent a challenge, since this is new and unorthodox to them. And the companies creating 3D printing are still in their early stages, unfamiliar with '3D printing' something complex and beautiful as a body part. Finally, the manufacturers of the existing prosthetic limbs were factored into the process, since our parts must integrate with theirs at every step of the way.
4. Describe the rigor that informed your design. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) If this was a strictly research or strategy project, please provide more detail here.
We are deep in the amputee community, and explore every opportunity to better understand their unique needs. But there are also medical aspects, the biomechanical, fashion and psychological considerations that play into the process at every step. We invented new 3D scanners in order to reduce cost and improve the simplicity and availability of the scan. We also created entirely new digital processes that allowed the complexity of the human body to be, essentially, turned into a canvas for design and expression. And we created now patented 3D geometry that interfaces our parts with the existing prosthetic limb to improve the versatility that we can offer.
But 'mass customization' will always present challenges, since there are really no precedents to draw from. So much of what we do is research, trying to better understand the way that a person may interact in a process that is flexible enough to offer almost anything they might dream up, without bewildering them with the vast possibilities available.
5. What is the social value of your design? (Gladdening, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, labor-mindful, environmental, cultural, etc.) How does it earn its keep in the world?
Our focus is to bring more humanity to people who have congenital or traumatic limb loss. We are proud to be part of the movement towards individualized medicine, and a leader in bringing a more personal approach to the way a broad spectrum of medical devices are developed and used.
We are driven by the fact that our process is paving the way for more products to be created 'on demand,' custom-tailored to suit the desires and the unique form of the person for whom they are designed. These products will be shaped by human needs, and enhanced by individuality, undiminished by the requirements of mass production. We envision a day when people are invited to participate in the creation of the products that have meaning to them on a fundamental level, a day when bodies are consulted directly in the creation of the products that enhance or complement them.
6. If you could have done one thing differently with the project, what would you have changed?
Because we are bound to very new and often experimental technologies, we are limited by the often high costs associated. Many amputees who would love this option simply cannot afford it, and we have very little ability to reduce the costs associated. We are constantly working to drop the design and production costs until we can offer fairings to a broader audience.