Project Overview

I started my thesis project with the topic of “aging in place”, meaning it is a win-win situation if senior citizens live at home as long as possible in United States, because I helped an lady after she fell down outside of her house. Then I looked into senior citizens physical limitations, following with the universal design philosophy, meaning if products are designed to meet the needs of people with physical limitations, then it will benefit people in general. I began to take physically-challenged people into consideration, and discovered they want to enjoy outdoor activities, instead of just surviving at home. So I finally got to this topic of improving camping experience for physically-challenged campers.



To experience the physical limitations and frustration of target users, I performed several daily tasks at home while in a wheelchair during the research phase. I went camping at an inaccessible campsite and a handicapped accessible campsite. Through interviews and observation, problems and needs were identified. Research indicated that physically-challenged users needed a more aptly designed tent to enjoy outdoor activities without worry, and that the tent should incorporate universal design philosophy, so it will benefit people in general, not just those that are confined to a wheelchair.

During the Ability Expo that I attended, I brought one mockup of the tent idea there, as long as all the sketches of ideas, there were over 100 responses that I got. What I found was that tents are targeted at young adults with less income, but want to enjoy more outdoor activities; people towards middle age who want to drive a long way to enjoy the living in the wild for a longer period of time. My initial motivation was to make active campers to have better experience overall, so they don’t have to worry about the basic personal independence, and be able to enjoy the outdoor activities. So, I decided to go with the tent idea.

1/4

Research

To experience the physical limitations and frustration of target users, I performed several daily tasks at home while in a wheelchair during the research phase. I went camping at an inaccessible campsite and a handicapped accessible campsite. Through interviews and observation, problems and needs were identified. Research indicated that physically-challenged users needed a more aptly designed tent to enjoy outdoor activities without worry, and that the tent should incorporate universal design philosophy, so it will benefit people in general, not just those that are confined to a wheelchair.

During the Ability Expo that I attended, I brought one mockup of the tent idea there, as long as all the sketches of ideas, there were over 100 responses that I got. What I found was that tents are targeted at young adults with less income, but want to enjoy more outdoor activities; people towards middle age who want to drive a long way to enjoy the living in the wild for a longer period of time. My initial motivation was to make active campers to have better experience overall, so they don’t have to worry about the basic personal independence, and be able to enjoy the outdoor activities. So, I decided to go with the tent idea.

1/10

Concept Development
​​
I played with balloons to understand the process of air inflation and how they get the support from the air to stand by themselves. Based on the understanding of that, I continued developing air-tight tent concepts. Then I studied current products that are air-inflated, such as jumping castles, water slides, air mattresses, and outdoor furniture. They all use PVC as the material, and some heavy duty PVC for the slides, but they weigh 120kg for a 26*16*15 feet castle. So for an 8 by 8 foot tent, it is going to be approximately 30 kg.



It will be too heavy if the whole tent is made out of PVC to be air-tight. In order to make it lighter and more transferrable by physically challenged campers, combining PVC and fabric will be more effective in many ways, in terms of cost and containing the air. Also, it opens more design opportunities. Suddenly, the shape can become more dynamic and organic that will blend into a natural environment, instead of the most common shape, a dome. Then, I got an inspiration from the skeleton of animals. Their bones can be seen as supports. The difference between the tent I am designing and others on the market is this air-inflated feature, so why not celebrate it! So I ended up with this final concept by combining the ideas of an air-inflated skeleton and bottom sleeping area and a fabric covering for the rest of the tent.



I kept the skeleton idea, finished rough CAD modeling, somehow seeing it in a 3D representation, it turned out not to be as interesting as I thought it would be. Especially from the side view, the air tubes were all straight. So I designed the 2 inner tubes to angle in on the top, the bottom remains the same; that is where the door is. Then I added another horizontal tube to go through all the vertical tubes, at the position where tubes are angled in. So these poles will play the role of holding fabrics strongly and in place.



Integrating universal philosophy, the stake was designed to cater to the needs of people in wheelchairs, and those who cannot stoop. They go approximately 60 degrees inwards towards the tent, which goes against the wind and locks the tent in place. A User can sit in a wheelchair and turn the stake around to screw it into the dirt. The stakes are made of aluminum that contain a straight cylinder that turns into a helix at the bottom, 2 handles for easy grip, and a stopper comes out in the middle to indicate how deep it goes into dirt when the stopper hits the foot of the tent. When they want to release the stake, they turn the handle counter clockwise.



There are 2 meanings behind the logo p.up. The original idea of the logo was from the movie “up”, because it rises up when it is inflating, and up also refers to the positive meaning of uplifting to encourage my target users. Then, since it’s a brand new concept about a tent, compared to the old pup tent, I added a “p” in the front, to make it the same name as the pup tent, but a new generation of tents.



1/8