Developing Snug Vest
After realizing the need for a safe product that would effectively and independently administer Deep Pressure Therapy, I knew I had a challenge on my hands. Developing Snug Vest has taken years, and between 200-300 prototypes to create our current version (which incorporates an astounding 80 different parts). It's so complex that it takes more than two months to make each vest, with continuous vigorous testing to ensure it can stand up to the task of every day wear.
When I began designing the vest, I knew it had to look like regular clothing, be completely safe and sustainable. We created it in two pieces: the inflatable section and the garment. We did this so that it's both washable and adjustable - it grows with your child, so that it is a long-term investment that will stand up to regular wear. The inflatable section of the vest is made from a polyurethane coated nylon material that doesn't produce any pollution. It's permanently bonded using radio frequencies, instead of gluing - this means it will not come apart into two pieces.
As we prototyped, we made constant improvements, working with a team of testers that included children with autism, their parents, Occupational Therapists, researchers, psychologists, physiotherapists, mechanical engineers and speech pathologists. Were it not for these groups, we would not have created such a functional garment - it was an Occupation Therapist that suggested our vest not put any pressure on the stomach and chest, and this is one of our most important safety features.
After being tested by researchers at the University of Victoria, Snug Vest showed positive physiological, cognitive and behavioral results. In 2014, Snug Vest received the Red Dot Design Award for exceptional achievement in medical device design, and Autism Speaks honored us with the community award for an autism technology product.
It has been a long journey creating Snug Vest as it is currently seen. Most importantly, we have worked tirelessly to create a product that is safe, inclusive, functional and effective. Check out my video to hear all about the specifics of the design and development process and see some of the prototypes I developed along the way.