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red dot award emble

This project won a 2018 Red Dot Design award in the Product Design category.

This project was developed for the class IACT 375, Cognitive and Perceptual Human Factors under professor B.C. Hwang, in collaboration with fellow UX designer Cody Reppert. Our assignment was to create a design solution within the Internet of Things. Over the course of 9 weeks, my team of two decided to tackle struggles relating to knee surgery recovery. The new connections our solution provided allows a patient to heal faster and stay connected with their physical therapist. 

My role
  • Industrial Design Lead

  • 3D Modeler

  • 3D Animator & Renderer

  • Visual Design Coordination

  • Physical Prototyping

  • Ideation

  • Primary & Secondary Research



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“Only 30% of physical therapy patients are completely adherent with their plan of care.”


“If not rehabilitated properly, a patient has a 45% risk of tearing their new ACL.”


Knee surgery can immobilize patients forcing them to be out of work for weeks to months at a time ensuing financial repercussions.

How might we…

Create an IOT device that allows patients to recover maximum range of motion with little to no effort, therefore making the process simpler for everyone?

A smart brace joint that allows patients to dynamically increase range of motion through normal, daily activity while relieving pressure and providing real time analytics to the physical therapist & doctor. 

The lock


The locking mechanism consists of several moving parts in order to allow complex control over angle adjustments needed for knee surgery recovery.

The cheeseplate lowers over the adjustment pins through an L-gear that functions like a typical worm/gear system. The adjustments are made based off data received from the physical therapist, which the mechanism accesses through Bluetooth via the Arduino Lilypad.

Initial conceptual model/animation of functioning mechanical part.

The mechanism is encased by a tough outer shell that is roughly 2.5 inches in diameter.

The LED ring on the exterior flashes blue when the

mechanism is being unlocked to perform daily

stretches. The ring flashes green and red when

stretches and exercises are performed correctly

and incorrectly, respectively.

Professional Interface


The physical therapist (PT) is able to quickly view a patient's profile and overall progress. They are able to effortlessly make a change to the patient's assigned range of motion based off of pain data, rate of improvement, and exercise success.

The PT can be assured that their patient is recovering to the best of their ability even when they are not able to make a therapy session, and give suggestions and tips knowing that their advice is being followed.

Patient Interface


The patient interface allows the user to quickly view and complete their daily exercises alongside long-term goals and improvement.

Should a physical therapist make any adjustments to an exercise list or assigned range of motion, the patient will receive a notification and be able to quickly understand and accept the change.



Throughout our research process, we interviewed 20+ individuals from rhinoplasty patients to prospective medical students to orthopedic surgeons.

Survey results


     0% - under 18

     63% - 18-24

     33% - 25-55

     4% - 55+


     82% believe they can identify an infection

      Major identifiers:

          Color: 66%

          Pus/Drainage: 63%

          Pain: 50%

Pain medication

     Positive experience: 57%

     Negative experience: 33%

     No experience: 10%

Time before returning to doctor due to pain

     24 hours or less: 28%

     2-5 days: 41%

     1-2 weeks: 28%

     2+ weeks: 3%

Specific grievances

     36% - lengthy healing process

     31% - pain management

     15% - quality or competency of doctor 

     28% - difficulty of everyday activities

     21% - restricted mobility

Secondary Research

Approx. 700,000 knee replacement surgeries per year in the US

           Projected to increase to 3.48 million by 2030  [1]

Approx. 200,000 ACL related injuries occur in the US every year [2]

           Approx. 700,000 partial meniscectomies in the US each year [3]

44% of all total knee replacement surgery recipients still feel persistent pain 3-4 years post surgery

If physical therapy is not properly performed and practiced, patients may lose full range of motion (ROM) post-surgery

           Tools like the CPM machine may aid in returning to full ROM 


The shells and mechanical parts were 3D printed separately and assembled by hand. The mechanical parts were printed in color, but the shell pieces were all hand-finished.

The shells were printed in three pieces. The casing for the mechanics was about 2x larger than the ideal size in order to have the 3D printed mechanics be big enough to function, and that casing had two pieces.

The third piece is the ideal product size, which was used in our vision video.

Each piece was primed with 6 layers of filler primer, then painted with 6 layers of Dupli-color, and finished with clear coat from the same brand.

The logos were hand-painted with acrylic paint and sealed with epoxy resin.

In the end, I was able to create a working model of the mechanical pieces we designed for the lock, complete with all necessary moving parts to demonstrate its function, as well as its casing to demonstrate its overall form and relative size.

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