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Apt: Accessible Pregnancy Test

Apt is an accessible tactile pregnancy test designed to empower people with visual impairment to regain their autonomy and privacy.

  • Apt Accessible Pregnancy Test for people with vision impairments

  • Our team's journey of exploring and developing an accessible pregnancy test.

    Our team's journey of exploring and developing an accessible pregnancy test.

  • Problem Analysis through primary research and secondary research

  • User research led to multiple concepts and solutions

  • Final product and prototype

  • Working prototype to test with users and for validation studies.

What it does

Apt is the first pregnancy test that can be used without sighted assistance. Apt is used like an existing pregnancy test. After a short wait, an innovative mechanism translates the result into vibrations, which can be felt when pressing a button on the device.


Your inspiration

Our team used human-centered design methodologies to discover the problem of a lack of privacy for people with vision impairments. We conducted interviews with members of the visually impaired community and accessibility experts. The lack of accessible at-home medical tests, especially pregnancy tests, was brought up again and again as a problem that has been ignored for decades. As a team of four women, we empathize with this problem. We wanted the whole testing process from purchasing to using pregnancy tests to be user-centered. The iterative research, exploration, and continuous user feedback helped us arrive at the final design.


How it works

Apt consists of an analog and a digital portion. The analog portion detects pregnancy. It has a traditional pregnancy test strip which will react with HCG in the tester’s urine and display colored lines as results. The digital portion converts the pregnancy results on the analog test into an electrical signal, which is then displayed tactilely. When the tester urinates on the strip, it activates a coin cell battery inside the test, turning on the device. After the test strip has had time to react, the LEDs inside the device will shine light onto the colored lines. These lines are read by a photosensor, which measures how much light is reflected by the colored lines. This reading is then stored in the device. When the tester presses the button, the motors inside the device vibrate to indicate negative (one vibration) or positive (two vibrations). Because this reading is stored digitally, the tester can press the button again and to feel the result.


Design process

Our process began with user interviews, field visits, and building an empathy map to uncover pain points throughout taking a pregnancy test, from purchase to disposal. With this data we brainstormed hundreds of ideas, from ballooning material to paper that folds in response to chemicals. We chose a set of design principles to guide our work: accessibility & autonomy, privacy, affordability, affective design and sustainability. We met with engineers and medical experts at MIT to narrow down our idea space to what would be reliable, feasible, and likely to get FDA approval. That helped us focus on a new way of displaying results rather than a new chemical solution. We explored low fidelity prototypes, including revealing textures, audio, and temperature. We also created bluefoam prototypes to test form. In user tests tactile results were the most popular among participants. Through co-design sessions using clay we decided to recreate a tactile version of the existing two-line test. We built a high-fidelity prototype, but began to have concerns about the reliability of the rising mechanism. In a later usertest, we discovered that there was a model for vibration in accessible products. With this insight we built a working final prototype.


How it is different

Our test is the only standalone accessible pregnancy test. Standalone is important because from our conversations with people in the visually impaired community we learned that most people do not want to take their phone into the bathroom with them. It (1) feels like the phone learns the result before they do and (2) doesn’t feel clean. Current pregnancy tests are not standardized which makes even sub-par solutions such as text-readers painful to try and use. Instructions are not accessible, requiring sighted assistance before even taking a test. Apt is a standalone device built for accessibility and privacy first. Our instructions are available on an accessible website and are easily read by image-to-speech applications.


Future plans

On the design and engineering side, we are working with suppliers to optimize for for manufacturing. From a business perspective, we hope to partner with other agencies and governments to make the tests available to everyone who needs them at an affordable price-point. We are also hoping to be in conversations with incumbent pregnancy test manufacturers to see if there might be an opportunity to collaborate and incorporate our design into the existing tests.


Awards

Our team's project and prototype have been awarded and funded by the MIT Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center for $10K which supports projects furthering work in the social innovation space.


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