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Project: Skintact
Year: 2017
Team: Alisa Rantanen, Tony Belton, Pachara Kangchirdsri, Laura Ott
Awards: Red Dot Design Concept

A purely extracurricular project taken on by the design team at Insight, Skintact is a simple solution that explores the concept of wearable technology in healthcare.

Skintact is a complete solution to control and heal mild to severe eczema using breathable medicated patches and light therapy. These modular patches can be applied in a strip or separated to cover large and small areas alike.

Skintact protects skin, promotes healing, and prevents scratching, all while concealing affected areas.

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30% of US population suffers from eczema...

The specific cause of eczema (atopic dermatitis) remains unknown, but it likely develops from a combination of hereditary and environmental factors. The skin’s barrier is impaired when keratinocyte cells at the upper layers do not produce the appropriate proteins. As an impaired skin barrier isn’t able to retain water, it becomes very dry, causing itching. An impaired barrier also allows for increased penetration of chemical irritants and potential allergens, and is less capable of combating bacteria and viruses to prevent infection.

…and yet there is no cure

Current remedies are largely homemade and involve activities such as soaking in bleach or oatmeal baths, applying a multitude of ointments from vegetable shortening to corticosteroids, and wrapping affected areas in occlusive dressings to retain moisture. These therapies are time-consuming, messy, and generally incompatible with on-the-go lifestyles.

 

The inspiration

Athletic tape was introduced by chiropractor Kenzo Kase in the 1970s and popularized by Kerri Walsh in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Primarily used by athletes for joint stabilization and muscle support, athletic tape is by necessity durable, waterproof, and flexible. These qualities, in addition to breathable and hypoallergenic materials, are just as important for accommodating daily routines as they are for athletic activities.

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The analogues

Of course, the adhesive in athletic tape lacks healing properties, having been engineered solely for performance, and the tape must be cut off to be removed. Skintact draws upon other analogues such as antimicrobial IV dressings, Icy Hot medicated patches, NicoDerm transdermal patches, and Band-Aid Plus Antibiotic products as examples of adhesive formulas that accept infusions of medication and prevent damage to already-compromised skin.

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The pivot

Though early ideation focused on hexagonal patches, the fact that hexagons appear in nature (e.g. honeycombs) began to suggest the appearance of scales. The chevron shape was chosen instead due to its clean and energetic aesthetic.

A breathable but dense weave reduces moisture transfer from skin to environment, and, woven with translucent thread, Skintact patches blend into every skin color while concealing eczema damage.

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Patches are delivered on a pre-perforated backer and packaged in tape-like rolls to preserve the medication-infused adhesive. Each roll of patches is stored in a refillable dispenser so that users simply pull and tear off a strip of patches at the specific desired length. The modular chevron shape covers both small and large areas without being labor intensive.

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