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Dreaming of a Good Night’s Sleep

IDE Group collaborated with ResMed to develop a sleep apnea mask for kids proving that serious engineering can lead to sweet dreams!

Partner : ResMed

Better Future : Sleep Apnea Mask that helps kids sleep better.

Our Contributions : The Generator

Year : 2009

IDE Group placed high importance on relationship building. This enabled efficient communication with project stakeholders to keep the project moving smoothly.
— Lee Veliss, Section Leader Patient Interface, ResMed

Dreaming big on a small scale

Sleep apnoea is a medical condition that involves breathing difficulties when children or adults are asleep. This condition is very rare in children aged 4-7years and affects their learning, behaviour and overall health. This was solved by using re-purposed adult masks to fit children. The children and their families suffered in silence. At that time, there were almost no products on the market addressing the problem. The existing solutions were uncomfortable, scary for the children, and distressing for the parents. It was clear, the existing adult mask had a big impact on the wellbeing of children and their families and IDE wanted to help out.

Resmed was passionate about solving this problem to help the affecting children and their families. ResMed saw necessity and was keen to address this issue. With a possible design in mind, Resmed approached IDE Group to help bring their project to life.

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Entering uncharted waters

IDE’s goal was to make a non-obtrusive paediatric mask to help kids with sleep apnoea, sleep better without feeling distressed and afraid. The mask had to be comfortable, stable, aesthetically pleasing with minimum coverage. We were dealing with a lot of unknowns - we understood the treatment and environment where the mask was to be used. We worked with passionate Resmed staff that helped us understand the underlying emotions and drivers the mask needed to address, not just the ergonomics etc. One of the most important factor driving the design of the mask was to satisfying the clinicians and nurses needs in dealing with sick and distressed children.

The team started from scratch, studying face anatomy and collecting ergonomic data. Our aim was to give the users a product with minimal coverage, maximum comfort, stability and sealing. The team embarked on a journey, while embracing complexity and dreaming about the difference this mask would to the kids and their families.

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Searching for the Cinderella fit

Guided by human factors and Resmed’s specialised expertise, a structured journey of exploration began. A novel approach was needed as we battled the beast of variance. We required something that would fit all head sizes. This was a challenging feat as all faces, children’s in particular, are hard to have a generic solution.

ResMed’s expertise in seals, masks and research in ergonomic data helped IDE uncover a constant from a non-constant variable – facial features. Our main goals were to cater to a wide adjust to various facial features and ages of children, ensuring reliable fit without leaks but importantly not creating pressure on the face that would cause injury. Also to ensure it was minimal so as not to distress kids and parents, allow them to move and be kids whilst still receive treatment, allow clinicians to deal with kids who are ill and may be in distress easily.

We investigated stability and how a mask would sit on a child's face. We needed to ensure reliable fit without creating pressure on the face or cause injury. Also to ensure it was minimal so as not to distress kids and parents, allow them to move and be kids whilst still receive treatment, allow clinicians to deal with kids who are ill and may be in distress easily. The team carefully gathered new requirements for a safe and reliable design. Efficient communication, collaboration on expertise and persistent determination was key to the team’s success.

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Redesigning a foe into a friend

User testing revealed that an opportunity was on the horizon. Careful observation and questions led to a significant discovery; a non threatening, visually attractive design was just as important as safety and reliability for both children and their families. In this case the form and function were equally dominant.  The ease of using the mask was of utmost importance. The main aim was that the parents should be able engage and disengage the mask quickly without risk of the child pulling it off whilst sleeping.

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Realising value against all odds

IDE realised a new future with ResMed and helped grow a new market segment that continues to make a difference to the lives of children and families around the world. A passionate and dedicated team made the project viable and feasible. The business case wasn’t obvious to begin with but IDE realised a new future for ResMed and their customers. During final user testing, we saw the immediate effect the new product could have on people. After going through many tests, the product was made available to customers some time later.

The truly collaborative partnership with ResMed proved that serious engineering can lead to sweet dreams!

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