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Noah is a multi-purpose chair for daily use that can transform, in under a minute, to be a life-saving flotation device. It prevents drowning and addresses other dangers associated with flooding.

  • Noah

  • This tells the story of the design process, from inspiration to prototyping, and final design.

    This tells the story of the design process, from inspiration to prototyping, and final design.

  • Noah overview, context of the problem, and transformation process.

  • Summary of the design process, from concept development to design synthesis and prototyping.

  • Elucidates on the storage, ergonomic considerations, assembly module, and handle usages.

  • Features and details of the product. Including household usage scenario, packaging, and manual.

What it does

Noah is an indoor chair that can transform into an emergency liferaft for flooding. It can hold most body types and uses a unique folding technique. It prevents drowning, illnesses, electrocution, stranding, provides storage, and ameliorates rescue operations.

Your inspiration

When I was 9 years old, Typhoon Ondoy hit the Philippines affecting millions. Today, flooding remains to be a problem, with low-middle income countries being most affected. Floods are the most frequent natural disaster and are expected to increase in frequency and severity due to Climate Change. Drowning accounts for 75% of deaths due to floods, but victims also experience limited mobility, sickness, slow emergency response, damaged belongings, stranding, and so forth, yet most do not own emergency equipment. An emergency device that can better assimilate into victims’ lives and help make disaster response more proactive, can save more lives.

How it works

Noah can be used as a chair, and transformed into a raft through a simple origami technique. The seat is detached from the base and opens to become the raft. The seat is reattached inside the raft, assuring Noah’s reuse after a flood. Archimedes’ principle is applied rather than air, simplifying the assembly, and reducing the risk of puncture. The seat’s center of gravity is as close as possible to the center of buoyancy. A flat hull makes it stable and ideal for the passage range and type of water it will be used in. Variations of Polypropylene are used to simplify production. It is low-cost, chemical resistant, abrasion-resistant, and anti-impact, making it stronger than an inflatable. It’s recyclable, lightweight, rated for over 20,000 folds, and electrically insulated. There are handles on all four sides to grip onto, attach a cord, or link multiple rafts together. It also features storage, a paddle with a bow hook, and reflective tape for visibility.

Design process

I began researching the project context, including industry and situation, existing systems and product analysis, and macro and micro environment scans. Then I conducted interviews and surveys with victims, emergency professionals, and design consultants. I found that the low-middle income bracket is most affected. They do not own adequate emergency equipment and refuse to move houses. Existing products are too costly, intrusive, or inaccessible, and a flotation device is what they need. These drove the idea for a device that can assimilate into the home. First, I defined key design parameters, and after 75 concepts, I underwent a parallel prototyping phase. I made scaled-down mockups and conducted buoyancy and weight capacity tests. After feedback from professionals, I had a semi-final design. Then, I underwent an iterative prototyping phase with paper models and made a 1:1 ergonomic prototype. Constant optimization was done considering buoyancy factors and ensuring it fits the 5th and 95th percentile of target user anthropometrics. After more feedback, I made a feasibility prototype using 3D printing and actual materials. After consistent successful attempts in simulated conditions, the final design was validated by a consultant and a Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office.

How it is different

Most consumer flood products are inadequate for severe floods, costly, or intrusive to the home, especially for low-middle income households. Noah is unique since it can be used like any other indoor chair but is also an emergency device that is quick to setup, lightweight, and easy to use. This makes disaster response more proactive on the household level. When considering real-world household limitations, a chair is more compact, affordable than large furniture, and commonly used. Additionally, it also helps rescuers with reflective tape adding visibility, and handles to tie a rescue cord, link rafts, or for people to grip. Production is simplified as only variations of Polypropylene, or recycled Polypropylene is used, which is easy to manufacture, readily available, and low-cost. There is also the opportunity to partner with local government units, businesses, and communities, to recycle plastic, create Noah’s, and improve their emergency preparedness.

Future plans

Undergo more comprehensive user testing or third-party testing to have it certified and validated to meet furniture standards, as well as personal flotation device or buoyant apparatus regulations. Further research and development possibly improve reliability. Possibly seek out manufacturers to discuss feasibility, and economize manufacturing costs. Seek companies, Non-Government Organizations, or Non-Profit Organizations for funding, and possible release into the market.


DLS-CSB Best Thesis Awardee 2nd runner-up

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