Papers: Incorporating user needs into engineering design

Developing World Users as Lead Users: A Case Study in Engineering Reverse Innovation

[+] Author and Article Information
Benjamin M. Judge

Engineering Product Development,
Singapore University of Technology and Design,
138682, Singapore
e-mail: benjamin_judge@sutd.edu.sg

Katja Hölttä-Otto

Associate Professor
Engineering Product Development,
Singapore University of Technology and Design,
138682, Singapore
e-mail: katja_otto@sutd.edu.sg

Amos G. Winter, V

Assistant Professor
Department of Mechanical Engineering,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Cambridge, MA 02139
e-mail: awinter@mit.edu

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Design Automation Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received September 16, 2014; final manuscript received March 5, 2015; published online May 19, 2015. Assoc. Editor: Christopher Mattson.

J. Mech. Des 137(7), 071406 (Jul 01, 2015) (9 pages) Paper No: MD-14-1613; doi: 10.1115/1.4030057 History: Received September 16, 2014; Revised March 05, 2015; Online May 19, 2015

This paper examines the “reverse innovation” of the leveraged freedom chair (LFC), a high-performance, low-cost, off-road wheelchair originally designed for developing countries. A needs study of 71 developed world wheelchair users was conducted through three different data collection efforts. These data were contrasted with studies of 125 developing world wheelchair users, who were shown to be lead users for their developed world counterparts. The GRIT freedom chair (GFC), the developed world version of the LFC, was designed based on results of the study. By recognizing developing country users as lead users, designers can reveal latent needs and create globally disruptive innovations.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME
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Fig. 1

The LFC. (a) Profile view of the LFC. (b) LFC user in India.

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Fig. 2

Venn diagram of developing world user needs versus developed world user needs prior to and after prompting of LFC features, illustrating not only shared needs, but also latent needs

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Fig. 3

Means of Likert scale values and ±1 standard error bars, corresponding to the frequency with which developed world users experienced different performance scenarios (“1” = very rarely and “5” = very frequently)

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Fig. 4

Frequency of response of the most prevalent features to convince respondents to select the LFC over benchmarked products

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Fig. 5

Needs of developed world WC users, expressed before and after prompting about features of the LFC. Needs are weighted from 5 to 1, with 5 being the most important. All needs (except those in parentheses) were also elicited from developing world user needs. Needs underlined are likely latent because of their significant increase in priority when reported after prompting about LFC features. The “others” are generally related to specific use scenarios and were not included in the set of potential latent needs. The needs in this figure correspond to the total number of needs in the right-hand section of the Venn diagram in Fig. 2.

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Fig. 6

The GFC. (a) GFC prototype in profile. (b) GFC prototype disassembled for transport in the trunk of a sedan. (c) Exploded view of the quick-release wheel mechanism, which enables the rear wheels to be removed using one hand. When the wheels are removed, the drivetrain remains attached to the frame of the chair. The moving parts, freewheel, and coupling utilize standard bicycle parts.

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Fig. 7

Process diagram for parallel reverse innovation




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