NASA Wearable Design
Role: Team Lead
Industrial Designer & CMF Researcher
Team of 3:
Kathy Wang, Joseph Lee, Hao Chen
- User Research
- Material Testing
- 3D Modeling & Rendering
- User Testing
VR Sweat Protection for NASA's HTC Vive Head-mounted Display
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.
Add sensing device
Analyze health data
User Interview with NASA Astronaut
Photo with Former Astronaut
Dr. Bonnie at the NASA's Johnson
Space Center Houston, 2019
Photo of Dr. Bonnie on Dunbar’s
third Shuttle flight, STS-32 in 1990
Use ARED, Treadmill or Stationary bicycle to exercise in space.
2.5 hours daily exercise
2.5 hours daily exercise is required in order to maintain muscle mass.
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.
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).
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.
Testing different sets of absorbent materials.
And find out the best combination of fabrics to mitigate sweat.
Absorb most water during the testing
Tencel > Spacer > Cotton
Best Result from Vertical Testing
Best Result from
- Steamer with 4 fl oz of water
- Fabrics to be tested
- 4 layers of tissue
- Time: 1 min
- 4 fl oz of water
- 9 holes on the bottom of each container
- 4 layers of tissue
- Time: 60 mins
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.
3D Modeling + Rendering
Attatchment to the VR HMD: Velcro
Impermeable hydrophobic layer:
100% polyester waterproof fabric
Spacer Fabric x 3 layers
Tencel Fabric x 10 yalers
Wicking outer shell: Athletic Sports Mesh
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.
Testing Result of Mock up A (Best Performance)
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.
After being presented at the Johnson Space Center, these prototypes were taken to NASA's Virtual Reality Laboratory for further tesing and research.
Photos took at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.