In the United States, asthma is on the rise, with more adults being diagnosed every year. The form and function of the common Albuterol rescue inhaler, however, has hardly changed in the past few decades. The devices are about as subtle as a sledgehammer: bulky, bright plastic that manages to scream “medical-grade” and “cheap” all at once. How, we wondered, can we use updated technology and smart thought about form and function to help users feel better—health-wise, but also about their inhalers in general?
We observed current rescue inhaler users to get a sense of their pain points and how they overcame device shortcomings. We found that people don’t like using them in public, dose timing is difficult with current compressed canister delivery technology, and the disposable nature of the device raised sustainability concerns. Current inhalers felt foreign and embarrassing to users, so to create connection, we updated the device in two major ways. First, by incorporating vape technology, which allows for flexibility in the types of drugs that can be administered and makes dosing (and timing) easier. Secondly, we rethought the inhaler’s form, creating delivery systems that look more like sculptures than medical devices, can be palmed discreetly, and are made of high quality materials, less disposable and easier to connect with—wood, silicone, and aluminum.
We rethought the inhaler’s form, creating delivery vessels that are more approachable than medical devices, can be used discreetly, and are made of high quality materials-more sustainable and easier to connect with.
We start by first observing current rescue inhaler users to get a sense of their pain points and how they overcame device shortcomings. Then we move into conceptual engineering to identify potential mechanical configurations that will satisfies the needs of the end users. Once we have our technical package we quickly move into 2D hand sketches combined with hands-on prototyping to identify what is the right look and feel for the inhaler of tomorrow.
Since we released Aria to the world we have been privileged to be recognized by two of the leading design competition houses in the world. Aria has won a Red Dot and a Spark Award for our work. We believe this stand to the testament that Aria is a breakthrough project by applying updated technology and thinking smartly about form and function to help users feel better—health-wise, but also about their inhalers in general.