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NASA Wearable Design

Role:  Team Lead

Industrial Designer & CMF Researcher

Team of 3: 

Kathy Wang, Joseph Lee, Hao Chen

Responsibility

- User Research

- Ideation

- Prototyping

- Material Testing

- 3D Modeling & Rendering

- User Testing

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VR Sweat Protection for NASA's HTC Vive Head-mounted Display

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Design Objective

Create a human-centered design solution for HTC Vive Pro headset to mitigate sweat and to protect the headset from water damage. The VR accessory should create a waterproof barrier for the headset, minimizing the amount of possible sweat generated during exercise, absorb any moisture from the user and elimate damage to the equipment. And it should also includes sensing solution that could collect, send and analyzes astronaut's health data.

Mitigate Sweat

Add sensing device

Analyze health data

User Interview with NASA Astronaut

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Photo with Former Astronaut 
Dr. Bonnie at the NASA's Johnson 
Space Center Houston, 2019 

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Photo of Dr. Bonnie on Dunbar’s 
third Shuttle flight, STS-32 in 1990 

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Exercise equipments

Use  ARED, Treadmill or Stationary bicycle to exercise in space.

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2.5 hours daily exercise

2.5 hours daily exercise is required in order to maintain muscle mass.

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Microgravity impacts of sweat

liquid attracts each other to form globs that float around with surface tension, It also sticks to surfaces and moves around on the surface. 

Sweat Flow

Research: Body Mapping of sweating patterns

According to the research experiment, the average sweat rates of head, face and neck could be up to 365 ± 86 (g.m-2.h-1).  The is a body map I drew to demonstrate the sweat distribution in Caucasian male athletes at a high exercise intensities. A number of patterns in regional sweat rate (RSR) were observed and the highest sweat rates were observed on the forehead.

The highest sweat rates were observed on the forehead. The sweat rate is 1710 (g.m-2.h-1).

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100ml Water

Spacer Fabric

Tencel

Cotton

 
 
 
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VR Current Application at NASA

 

Virtual Reality (VR) is currently used by NASA astronauts to train and prep for spacewalks. In the future, NASA anticipates future spacecraft and the International Space Station (ISS) being equipped with VR, which will break new ground in its extensive use in space. The Flex system is designed to better address astronauts’ exercise, physical therapy and psychological counseling needs in space. 

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CMF Design

Testing different sets of absorbent materials.
And find out the best combination of fabrics to mitigate sweat.

Material Performance

Absorb most water during the testing
Tencel > Spacer > Cotton

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Best Result from Vertical Testing

Best Result from 

Horizontal Testing

Vertical Testing

- Steamer with 4 fl oz of water
- Fabrics to be tested
- 4 layers of tissue
- Time: 1 min

Horizontal Testing

- 4 fl oz of water
- 9 holes on the bottom of each container
- 4 layers of tissue
- Time: 60 mins

Testing Results​: 

 

Both testing shows that the best combination is 3 layers of Spacer Fabric + 10 layers of Tencel Fabric.

Pattern of a Microfludics Sweat Flow Device 

The pattern of this microfludics system was inspired by the fractal curves in mathematics. By incorporating this pattern, I designed this space-filling open microfludic channels to collect water droplets and slow down the overall flow of the water.

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3D Modeling + Rendering

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Attatchment to the VR HMD: Velcro

Impermeable hydrophobic layer:

100% polyester waterproof fabric

Moisture reservoir

Spacer Fabric x 3 layers

Absorbent layer

Tencel Fabric x 10 yalers

Sweat Sensoring

 Microfluidic System

Wicking outer shell: Athletic Sports Mesh

Prototyping Process

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Testing on Manikin (Sweat Simulation)

The Testings on Manikin show that with the same material, Shap A is the most absorbent shape among these 3 mock ups.

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Testing Result of Mock up A (Best Performance)

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Testing on Users

We gave the prototype to 10 people. And we carefully examined the headset after the 2.5 hours intensive excercise. We found our that none of the headsets were damaged by sweat. And according to the survey result, 90% of the users were satisfied with the comfortability of the product. Our next step is to send the prototype to NASA's VR Lab and test it under a microgravity environment.

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Final Prototypes

After being presented at the Johnson Space Center, these prototypes were taken to NASA's Virtual Reality Laboratory for further tesing and research.

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Image Gallery

Photos took at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

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