Saathee is an interactive therapy toy that helps children with speech impediments improve their muscle development for tongue, jaw and lungs. With a rise in speech impediments over the years, this device is geared towards pre-teens as early development is of utmost importance and making the act of therapy more interesting might help increase the time spent during therapy.
Pediatric medical device
Speech and Language issues in America alone effect more than 26 million individuals out of which around 16 million have specific speech defects. 60% of that population is between the ages of 6 to 12. Through research and interviews with speech therapists from across the globe, it was found that early intervention is one of the most reliable ways to improve the condition. Conducted via questionnaires and telephonic interviews a wide array of issues were found in existing practices and tools, for the selected age group. Whilst Speech and Language Pathologists (SLPs) employed techniques ranging from articulation therapy to mirror technique to tongue depressors and even games, the main issue all agreed lay in inadequate at-home practice along with short attention spans and such repeated activities tend to bore children.
The primary objective of the SLP is to strengthen muscles and teach motions through repetitive motions and practice and for this reason an in-depth study of the motions and tools used was conducted to set a baseline for the design. The ideation process began with studying the user's buccal cavity dimensions and identifying games/ activities that use similar principles to the exercises that SLPs use during therapy.
The aim was to translate the following muscles and their motions:
Jaw: A game driven by chewing
Tongue: A game driven by rotation and contact
Lungs: A game driven by short bursts of air
Shlay aims to increase at-home therapy durations to help the child improve their speech through muscle exercises and strengthening. It includes
A device that aids in remedial therapy in a familiar form factor
A interactive solution for children to engage with over extended times
Replaceable sleeves for varied experiences
A way for therapists to track and monitor improvement over time
The ability to increase difficulty over time to grow with the child
Shlay incorporates a gender neutral color palette for the interactive therapy device. The prototype also features removable textured sleeves that allow for different types of bite feels for the child. The branding and packaging is muted yet playful and geared towards parents as they will be the ones purchasing this.
Along with the renders and 3D prototype, an Arduino based code was complied to test the sensors in tandem and play the games involved.
Inspiration came form the form of a trumpet as that allowed for the unique combination of jaw, tongue and lung exercises to come together in one device. Along with the buccal cavity, the dimensions for the hand was also considered to make the device user friendly across age groups. The device is broken down into 3 distinct games/ exercises
The blowing game helps in vocal chord and lung strength
The bite game improves jaw strength and control
The touch based tongue game aids in tongue muscle dexterity and strength increase, whilst also keeping the jaw open while playing the game; which helps increase jaw movement.
Over the course of development via 3D models, a form was chosen that fit the dimensional and technological criteria.