The ProGrip™... Learning from Bartender Injury to Help Others November 13 2014 2 Comments

Innovation is the spinning core which centers the Über™ world, powering ideas such as our ProGrip™ handle; a solution for eliminating bartender injury, muddling drinks.

The ProGrip™ illustrates how in the space of 10 years, human centered design is now entrenched in the workplace; critical to improving working lives!

When the ProGrip™ was conceived, we hadn’t understood that bartenders weren't alone in pain... baristas, chefs, handymen, the elderly had their own painful stories of discomfort and frustration!

Unfortunately, we never heard these sounds, they were drowned out by the noise of complacency assuring us: “oh, that’s the way it’s always been, so don’t worry about that!”

Deflated, we retreated to our cone of silence, to create space for our eventual Ü(reka) moment.

Funnily enough the story unfolded by accident, in my mother’s kitchen... in between deeply breathing sautéing onions smells with the aromas of simmering fresh herbs.

In the days and months that drifted by… glimpses and insights revealed hidden paths felled by questions asked… you know the type of thoughts, no one thinks about, unless of course, you can’t perform that task at all!

Sam and l began to look at a gazillion hand tools, understanding the design with arising mandated motions… rotation (stirring) and compression (pounding) and directional (extension) movements; each action impacting on speed, efficiency and most importantly the body: fingers, hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders; depending on task. 

In many instances the unifying single task implied by all tool design: the user must form a fist to hold or grip the tool!

The ProGrip™’s unique handle alters a relevant tools center of engagement, transforming a vicelike grip into one anchored by a thumb via an insertion point (hole in the handle)... the arising engagement between user and tool thereby changes, with the body’s natural response conforming to a relaxed state (less tension).

Once the relationship of user/tool changes, then so does the relationship of the body to that tool.

The ProGrip™ Relationship

A fantastic example of this is watching a barista holding a tamper (THE COFFEE MUDDLER).

A tamper is squat and cumbersome, contorting a user’s fingers, hands and wrist into prolonged and very uncomfortable positions... the result, huge issues of RSI affecting wrist, elbow and shoulder. Go talk to any barista... they all know someone who has a problem if it’s not themselves!

Changing focus from hand grip to that of a thumb pivot alters grip strength, muscular stresses, wrist position/angle relative to the hand, body and tool.

During 2015 Uber™ will be undertaking more human centred design research to allow us to re-imagine a sway of tools whose times has come!

Who would have thought observing bartenders suffer whilst muddling drinks… would lead to something good!

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