FamilyArizing is a prize-winning system, designed my Misha Croes, that supports connectedness between parents and their premature newly born.
Currently we are redesigning FamilyArizing for the official opening of the new VMKCentrum at the Máxima Medisch Centrum in Veldhoven. We are honored that our own Princess Máxima of The Netherlands will be there to wear the pendant and demonstrate FamilyArizing.
The redesigned system will consist of embedded electronics and numerous 3D printed parts. We are very thrilled about the new flexible material as this will allow us incorporate the pendant's functionality in an elegant way.
Specifically; the top rubber part will allow the servo to create protrusions that mimick the child's movements. This can be felt by the parent who can then cocoon the pendant with her hands. This will 'dent' the bottom rubber part where a touch sensor will detect the cocooning and send the signal to the child's snuggle in the hospital.
Details about the project
The FamilyArizing project started as a graduation project in 2010 by Misha Croes at the department of Industrial Design at the University of Technology Eindhoven (TU/e). The assignment of the project was to design a system that would (re)connect parents with their prematurely born, incubator bound, child in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). For this project the approach was chosen to give the parents and the child a feeling of connectedness when the parents are outside the hospital.
The project was successfully finished with a system that would enable parents to comfort their child in times of distress. During one of the observational studies in the hospital on interaction procedure between parents and prematurely born child stood out. Normally when a child requires parental comforting, the child is picked up by the parents and through soothing talks and touch the child is comforted. However since most prematurely born children are bound to their incubator the only comforting activity the parents can provide is touch through the use of their hands. During the observation it became clear that through “supportive tucking” or “cocooning” parents are able to comfort their child. This is achieved by restricting the child’s movement, a sign of distress by the child. The designed system allows parents to provide this “cocooning” action, while being outside of the hospital.
The FamilyArizing system consists of a series of products. First of, the system consists of sensors that monitor the child’s movement inside the incubator. If the sensors detect the child is in need of parental comforting, a signal is sent to the parents. The signal arrives wirelessly at one of the parents who is wearing a specially designed pendant. This pendant will replicate the exact movement of the child by means of its embedded servo. By doing so the parent not only detects the child’s movement but is also capable of interpreting the child’s movement.
If the parent decides that the movement in fact indicates that the child is in distress and thus needs comforting, the parent only has to “cocoon” the moving pendant. By restricting the physical movement of the pendant the system knows the parent wants to comfort the child and a signal is sent back to the child’s incubator in the hospital. Back in the hospital the distressed child lays in a specially designed snuggle (a nest-like mattress used in NICU’s). On arrival of the signal from the parent the snuggle will be activated and start to cocoon the child, hence restricting its movement and therefore comforting the child. The comforting of the child will in itself reduce the movement activity of the child and therefore the movement of the necklace. This enables the parent to perceive the comforting activity is successful.