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Peppy is a product that incentivises children with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) to practise airway clearance therapy, through the use of playful attachments.

  • Two Peppys with bubble blower, unicorn horn, blow dart and shark fin attachments

  • A run through of the Peppy app.

    A run through of the Peppy app.

  • Mix and match Peppy parts to make a PEP to be proud of

  • Exploded view of Peppy, with some attchments in the background

  • A spirometry test being performed with Peppy while the parent uses the app

  • The process; clay modelling, wireframing, potato whittling and fondant molding

What it does

Peppy is a product that incentivises children with Cystic Fibrosis to practise airway clearance therapy, through the use of playful attachments. Peppy also functions as a spirometer, meaning, it records the user’s lung function levels and logs it on an app.

Your inspiration

Ireland has the highest instances of Cystic Fibrosis (CF) in the world. People with CF must stick to a daily routine of clearing their lungs of mucus in order to stay healthy. This experience can be far from pleasant, particularly for children who can struggle to understand why they must devote time away from their day to do this. From speaking to patients and the parents of children with CF, I learned that performing daily PEP Therapy (the most common form of chest clearance), is often impossible, as children despise it. This causes tension and frequent arguments. I designed this for both child (primary user) and parent (secondary user).

How it works

Peppy is a form of PEP therpy. Positive expiratory pressure (PEP) therapy is an airway clearance technique for CF patients. By breathing out with a moderate force against a resistor in the mouthpiece, a positive pressure is generated in the airways, helping to keep them open and dislodge mucus. The routine can become rather monotonous, so Peppy makes it exciting and enjoyable through the use of fun attachments that the user can play with using their breath. Deorative attachments such as unicorn horns can plug one hole, while sending the air towards the interactive attachments such as the blow darts. Peppy also function as a spriometer (a device which measures lung function). When the Peppy is blown into, an infrared signal beaming across a disrupting rod records the lung function levels. It is then logged on the app where it can be shared. Spirometry is usually done in a hospital, so the ability to make home reading reduces the need for outpatient appointments.

Design process

With the onset of COVID-19, my design process quickly became more creative, and frankly, more interesting. Having been suddenly confined to my home just as I was beginning to devlop the form of this concept, I had to find ways to make up for the lack of a workshop or materials. I had just completed a Co-Creation session with my users where there was a clear preference for soft, round forms. With no blue foam, wood or steel to my name, I began carving potatoes. While I may sound like a walking stereotype, carving these potatoes really helped me develop my form. Subsequently, I put on my chemist gown and created homemade play-doh (albeit with limited success). Then I used what was the best modelling material of all, fondant borrowed from my baker mother. You can really get a great degree of smoothness with it. Lastly, I finally had some clay delivered, which helped me somewhat realise the concept. I have created projects for social impact before, and I have been disappointed with the result. While they look great on a blog, the user would probably never actually use it. My goal from the beginning of this project was to create something undeniable. I spoke to over 30 people throughout this project, who ranged from clinicians and patients, to siblings and music therapists.

How it is different

Peppy harnesses the potential energy of a child's breath which is being expelled when they perform PEP therapy, and using it to better that child's experience. Doctor Nicole Hurley who specialises in CF said of the project "you really put the child’s perspective at the heart of your research. It is novel, innovative, realistic and really taps into the mind of the child." No other medical product for people with respiratory problems incorporates a physical and tangible playful aspect, or consider benefits this would have to the medical experience. Other PEPs on the market look quite "clinical", aesthetically speaking, even those frequently used by children such as the Aerobika and Acapella. Peppy’s mix and match shells and bodys allow the child to design a pep they are proud of. Additionally, PEPs and spirometers are currently two seperate entities. Peppy combines the two, simply by having two separate mouthpiece which can be inserted into the s same body.

Future plans

My university has invited graduating students back in September to make use of the workshop if so desired. I will take advantage of this as an opportunity to make a final working protoype. The feedback from the CF community has been astounding, and numerous people have shown interest in working with me to develop the product into something that is comercially available. I have thankfully found employment from a company who develop design solutions for CF patients. I hope to continue to make realistic and effective solutions to the probles people with chronic illnesses face.


This is my first entry.

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