“Patient of the Future” Collaborates with DDSTUDIO on ROVA Pedestrian Assistive Technology

a cart of fruit sitting on the side of a street

Experience design firm DDSTUDIO partners with empowered patient and extreme athlete to create a customizable mobility aid with the qualities of a high-performance road bike

Pedestrian assistive technology unveiled Thursday at Scripps Health Future of Genomic Medicine Conference

Kim Goodsell, an extreme athlete with a life-threatening heart arrhythmia and a degenerative neurological condition, personifies the “empowered patient” by employing state-of-the-art technology to control her health, her mobility and her world.

She relies on a wireless heart monitor throughout her day. She scoured the Internet to research her medical conditions and became the first person ever to link a genetic mutation to her heart problem and a cascade of other health issues. Faced with a future of diminishing dexterity, she teamed up with DDSTUDIO, a Carlsbad CA-based experience design firm, to create an innovative approach to mobility aids that accommodates the needs and lifestyles of active, social adults of all ages.

The result is a pedestrian assistive technology called ROVA, a sleek, sturdy and customizable device that possesses the same performance quality, strength and aesthetics as Goodsell’s top-line road bike. Goodsell introduced a prototype of ROVA Thursday morning at the Scripps Health Future of Genomic Medicine Conference in La Jolla, during a presentation with Dr. Eric Topol, a genomic medicine expert and proponent of the empowered patient.

“This pedestrian assistive technology is designed to allow Kim Goodsell and other users to maintain their mobility, dignity and social calendar,” said Charles Curbbun, CEO of DDSTUDIO.

Helping Goodsell maintain an active lifestyle was a tall order. The Carlsbad woman kite-surfs, climbs mountains and cycles up to 50 miles a day on a high-performance carbon fiber bicycle.

A wireless heart monitor allows Goodsell to watch for dangerous cardiac rhythms when exercising. With its information, she is alerted to heart activity that could trigger a body-wrenching shock from a defibrillator implanted in her chest. The same heart monitor transmits real-time data to medical professionals.

She has no intention of letting the threat of her progressive neurological disease stop her from pursuing her passions and living an active life. She also has no interest in using outdated mobility-aid technology that hasn’t improved in decades, is unattractive, cumbersome and stigmatizes its users.

Designed with a carbon fiber frame, the ROVA resembles sleek high-performance sports gear. Its lightweight yet rugged frame was ergonomically designed to accommodate a person’s natural gait. It’s also sturdy, allowing users to grab hold of any part of it and remained balanced without fear of it toppling.

Durable and foldable baskets, which were engineered after DDSTUDIO consulted with an origami master, accommodate many customized needs, whether its moving around the office, grocery shopping, walking around the neighborhood or meeting friends for dinner.

In addition to demanding new levels of mobility and freedom, consumers now expect connectivity. The ROVA, like Goodsell’s bicycle, will be equipped to accommodate her heart rate monitor or other personal electronics, such as a smart phone, allowing users to be mobile and connected.

“Through its design work, DDSTUDIO has leap-frogged from old-fashioned unstable, hard to navigate walkers that left people feeling trapped and stigmatized, to a truly new, consumer oriented mobility platform,” Goodsell said.

Founded by Curbbun in 1984, DDSTUDIO is one of Southern California’s premier design firms, with 28 years of experience in the successful development of award-winning products. Having the user experience and interaction as the driving force has inspired diverse clients to seek out DDSTUDIO, from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies.

DDSTUDIO’s hands-on experience has allowed it to develop innovative approaches to health care, mobility and data management challenges that improve communication and bolster consumer empowerment.  In addition to ROVA, DDSTUDIO projects that have incorporated consumer empowerment and connectivity include ViSi Mobile by Sotera Wireless, the first wireless vital signs monitor worn on the wrist, and Angela, a wireless interface developed with Independa, a San Diego-based company, as a way to take care of loved ones by keeping them connected through virtual assisted living.