Empowering the elderly to stay hydrated

Fall 2019 - Present | Design and Operations

Pitcher prototype printed out of ABS

About the Design

Waterfül is a water pitcher designed to help seniors improve their hydration habits

Organic stimuli creates a dynamic environment that helps to replace the innate sensation of thirst

A water pump in the pitcher base circulates water through the handle and back into the vessel creating waterfall effect that produces both audio and visual stimuli

A valve located in the handle provides a pump-assisted pouring feature

Need Identification

Empathy field work was conducted with various stakeholder groups including senior citizens, caretakers, and family members

Interviews and immersion exercise identified needs and existing pain points

Seniors emphasized concern over health, as well as a desire for independence and community

Caretakers referenced high stress levels related to monitoring the seniors’ health

During empathy field work exercises, needs, insights, and surprises were identified, and complied to establish overarching needs. Over 27% of emotional data points were focused on community and interpersonal relationships, 20.3% on health, and 19.4% on autonomy and independence.

The pitcher being used as a gathering point to build community

Key Problem Exploration

Hydration was identified as a key health problem with connections to autonomy

Seniors are dehydrated due to reduced sensation of thirst due to age, medications, and conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer's, and reduce access to water due to reliance on caretakers

31% of long-term care residents are chronically dehydrated

In 2004, hospital admissions for dehydration cost over $5 billion, with seniors having the highest admission rates

Assisted pouring feature being used to fill the cup

Design Rational

Organic stimuli provides a less obtrusive reminder and was preferred by customers in Conjoint Analysis over alarms or LEDs as it preserves a feeling of independence

Assisted pouring allows for users with limited fine motor skills and strength to access water without caretaker assistance

Concealed dials and low-tech interface designed to meet needs of users with low technological literacy

Section view render

How it Works

Pump circulates water through tubing routed through the handle at timed intervals

A valve is used to divert flow through spout in handle to easily fill a user’s cup

Waterfall effect created by outlet slit designed to create audio stimuli with frequencies within the audible ranges for elderly users

The waterfall feature, generating visual and audio stimuli

Why Use a Waterfall?

Through research, empathy field work, and early user testing, we found that seniors were consistently deterred by reminders they interpret as "demanding"

Their autonomy in daily tasks and decisions dimensions, especially when their children take on a caretaker role, or they enter into an assisted living center

Using organic stimuli, such as the sound of rushing water, helps the reminders feel less commanding, and preserve the elderly's feelings of autonomy, while still supplement their deteriorating sensation of thirst

The waterfall also uses both audio and visual stimuli, to suit the needs of users with varying capability losses that come with age

Also, it's fun! We want to provide a joyful interaction, and make our users' days a little brighter

Competitor Comparison

Testing of an earlier pitcher's controls

User Testing

User testing was conducted at every step in the design process

User's concern over the volume of water and the stress induced by the expectation of needing to drink it all influenced us to reduce the pitcher volume from 2 to 1 liters

A general dislike for technology and the association between visible controls and stress brought us to move the frequency and power controls to en enclosed area in the base

When using a System Usability Scale, the pitcher scored an average of 78.5 out of 100 across 5 tested users, indicating the pitcher is relatively easy and intuitive to use

*both competitions were canceled at the semi-final stage due to COVID-19

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