A Mobile App Inspired by Mom, Designed to Help Millions

Bobbi Kyle with Premier Christy Clark
Posted: Mon, 2013-02-25 12:36

Lupus affects more than 2 million North Americans. More specifically, 70% of that figure have a systemic form of the disease called Systemic Lupus Erythematosus or SLE which can affect the heart, lungs, kidneys, muscles, skin, joints and brain. Nine out of ten sufferers of Lupus SLE are women in their childbearing years. For 4th year student Bobbi Kyle, one of those nine in ten included her mother, who first began experiencing symptoms of SLE shortly after Bobbi’s birth.

While enrolled in the Medical Assistive Product Design course taught by Associate Professor Louise St. Pierre, Bobbi came to the realization that she could help her mother, and others with Lupus. In the class, students have an option to choose to design a product to for a disability or a disease, and for Bobbi,  that choice was clear.

“Every day I see hidden opportunities for change and the creation of understanding where understanding is lacking,” says Kyle.  “As a designer I like to collect these threads and weave them into projects that educate and enable people to see and do things in a different ways.” 

Loop-Up ™ is a mobile app that provides users with tools to quickly pinpoint and track Lupus symptoms on the go.  Users can keep tabs on known disease stressors that can contribute to flare-ups such as sunlight (UV exposure), stress levels, exercise, sleep, and fatigue. Simple reflection tools allow users to look back on activities and correlate trends in daily activities that might contribute to disease flare-ups in order to make positive life changes. The app will be of particular significance for the many sufferers who experience short-term memory loss.

Loop-Up ™  is one of the many projects that fall under the wing of Emily Carr’s Health Design Lab -  an emergent research centre that applies "design thinking" to health care and healthy living.

“What makes this project particularly successful is the way that Bobbi worked - she dedicated herself to understanding Lupus from as many people as possible, and from as many perspectives as she could,” says St. Pierre. “She immersed herself in empathy studies and created several prototypes to test how they would work. Her impetus was to design something that would build understanding between people, and her own working methods exemplified the drive for understanding.”

The choice to focus on a chronic illness like auto-immune diseases was not only because of her mother. Effects of auto-immune diseases are often not visible to the eye. And because of this diagnosis can be difficult, sometimes taking 5-10 years or more.  This can create a lack of awareness and support from both families and medical professionals. Bobbi felt compelled to create tools for self-management that approach health from a different perspective — by empowering the user, she’s helping them to make their own informed decisions.

Bobbi plans to enter the market shortly, but first, will present her final prototype for her graduation project this spring, (she recently had the opportunity to demonstrate Loop-Up for Premier Christy Clark, and Ministers John Yap and  Bill Bennett at the Emily Carr Great Northern Way Campus announcement.)  You can see more of Bobbi’s work at bgraphicstudio.com.