IncludeHealth Access Strength™

Accessible Fitness For All

CLIENT: IncludeHealth

INDUSTRY: Sports, Medical, Electronics

SERVICES: Research, Strategy, Design, Engineering, Prototyping, Soft Goods

IncludeHealth is a next-gen health and performance platform of fitness equipment that provides performance data to users, clinicians, and insurers. IncludeHealth’s technology enable care providers to personalize workouts for patients in clinical settings with real-time feedback from a user’s use of the equipment. This platform fills a critical gap in the continuum of care by ensuring compliance with physical therapy. It enables everyone, from triathletes and the average gym-goer to those with significant mobility challenges, to benefit from the same high-quality experience.

Throughout development, IncludeHealth partnered with Priority Designs for support with mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, software development, and prototyping. After years of iterations and collaboration, we’re excited to see the growth and implementation of the Include Platform.

Discovering a Need

The story begins with Ryan Eder observing a person in a wheelchair struggling to use gym equipment. This inspired him to conceptualize an innovative weight-training machine adaptable for everyone and every physical ability. Fast forward, and throughout over 12 years of development, CEO and Founder of IncludeHealth, Ryan Eder, has helped make health and wellness easier for people of all abilities, re-defining the delivery of care.

At the very beginning, after securing initial funding, Ryan enlisted Priority Designs to help develop and fabricate a functional prototype of the first Access Strength™ machine, a design concept with digital weight selection.

From Concept To Making It Real

The road to a functional working prototype began with our mechanical engineering team. With a complex system including many parts, engineers designed components made from a variety of production processes including:

  • injection molding
  • over-molding
  • sheet metal forming
  • welding
  • tube bending
  • metal casting
  • flame cutting
  • machining

To pass proper standards, engineers conducted finite element analysis (FEA) to confirm a proper safety factor per UL as well as engineering mechanisms to meet ASTM and RESNA standards.

Electrical engineering of the electronics platform required unification of a complex system including:

  • 17 individual PCB designs
  • Implementation of ARM M4 microcontroller
  • Array of sensors and actuators to capture arm position, pulley movement, and control weight selection
  • Internet communication via WiFi or Ethernet
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to enable off device communication
  • RFID for user identification
  • Text-to-Speech with audio output
  • LCD TFT display with user input via a dial

Expanding the Vision

The vision of the IncludeHealth system evolved over time joining the secure Internet of Things (IoT) by integrating with a cloud-based platform. The platform is used for collection and analysis of data-rich feedback from on-board sensors. Available through a web browser, the IncludeCloud™ allows care providers to plan and schedule unique workout plans. Information is sent to the Access Strength™ machine and displayed for the user. Advanced metrics including velocity, tempo, power and range of motion are captured and reported back to care providers.

To get there, Priority Designs helped support IncludeHealth with software engineering to develop features such as https communication, rep counting, sensor collection, RFID tag reading, and remote device firmware upgrading. Priority Designs also collaborated with a separate web development team on the Machine API communication to enable workout, exercise, and relevant user data to be sent and received over the IncludeCloud secure infrastructure.

User experience designers helped iterate through workflow and use case development, and implementation of the control dial display that facilitates weight selection, user sign in/out, workout setup, rep counting, and range of motion. The machine recognizes an RFID badge that identifies trainers and users in guidance of workout setup and in automatic adjustment of weight selection by exercise type.

The Access Strength™ encourages users to conduct a wide variety of weight-training exercises while standing, sitting, or from a wheelchair. Interaction components, such as the adjustment arms, are counterbalanced per ASTM standards and require less than 5 lbs to actuate, which enable everyone to easily adjust the equipment to fit their body size.With our in-house soft goods development team, we helped design and prototype fabric-based components of the system including seating, padding, and handgrip attachments. The green color is used on the machine to bring attention to interaction points, and provide dexterity-free handle adjustments. The padded seat can be pulled out for seated exercises, pushed away, or used for support with a wheelchair.

Bringing it Together

Integrating all of these components from mechanical, electrical, and software took a full cross-functional effort. Our prototyping specialists helped bring it all together, fabricating parts and working on assembly. The fully-functional aesthetic embodiment of the design was achieved through iterative prototyping and close collaboration with IncludeHealth.

Rounds of prototypes underwent a variety of studies from cycle testing to user testing. The first usability test was with legendary architect Michael Graves, who evaluated the new “Access Strength” from a wheelchair. Mr. Graves applauded Ryan’s novel approach that leveraged universal design principles. Each iteration helped improve the design, confirm functionality, and ultimately get the Access Strength™ ready for production.

Making an Impact

Throughout its development, The Access Strength™ has been recognized and awarded many times including a 2007 International Design Excellence (IDEA) Gold, People’s Choice, and Best-in-Show. Additionally, in 2016, the system won Best-in-Show, Design for Equity, and IDEA Gold awards.

As IncludeHealth’s The Access Strength™ has gained momentum and new partnerships, the machine has been transferred into production where it now finds placement in a variety of healthcare facilities including the US Air Force, Cleveland VA, Dayton Children’s Hospital, HealthPartners Neuroscience, Mercy Health, and The Ohio State University Medical Center, on its steady march to greater adoption.

This platform fills a critical gap in the continuum of care by ensuring compliance with physical therapy. It enables everyone, regardless of ability, to benefit from the same high-quality experience. We continue to support the Access Strength™ with user experience enhancements and maintenance releases via remote firmware upgrades. The future of IncludeHealth is looking bright as Ryan’s vision to improve healthcare for all is impacting the patient experience.

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