Text: Jens Persson Top
Otto came about during the 10-day 2018 Sound Design course. The
course runs every year and allows master's students from
Interaction Design and Advanced Product Design to
collaborate on innovative products using sound as a key
Then first-year master's students Selvi Olgac, Birnur Sahin and
Gabriel Uggla decided to focus on upgrading current treatment
methods for asthma, a chronic inflammatory disease in the airways
of the lungs. Today, around 235 million people suffer from asthma
worldwide and ca. 250,000 people die annually from the disease.
Initial research phase
for Otto aiming to understand potential users of the
"For many asthmatics, the daily routines of asthma management
can be a demanding process that includes monitoring of the
condition, logging results and inhaling the medicine in the right
way. Life-long treatment often has a huge impact on people's daily
life", says Gabriel Uggla from the APD Programme.
A one-stop-shop for asthmatics
After research and ideation, the team came up with Otto, a
solution that merges monitoring, logging and medication into
one product. Otto helps the patient track their personal breathing
curve and adjust the dosage depending on the current situation. By
using sound and light feedback, Otto guides the user through the
Some early sketch prototypes of
Current medication systems have failed to consider the varying
needs of the user which may shift significantly from day-to-day.
Asthma is triggered by multiple factors; allergies, pollution,
sickness, exercise or even the weather which calls for a responsive
dosage. In spite of this, asthma medication is normally only
monitored and adjusted twice a year by a doctor. Otto does this
With Otto, you first exhale through the mouthpiece in order to
take a peak flow measurement. The medicine dosage is then adjusted
automatically before inhalation. As you inhale, lights indicate the
time for inhalation and for holding your breath. A confirmation
sound informs users when the process is completed. As Otto is then
placed in its charging station the new measurements are logged and
shared with the patient's digital journal, allowing medical experts
to create individual diagnostic profiles.
Claiming top spot in Milan
Gabriel Uggla was in Milan for the IXDA Awards on February
7th. Apart from winning the 'Student Award' category,
Otto was also nominated in the 'Disrupting' category along with
major international companies and design studios.
The final version of the Otto product
"To win the award for best student project among all the great
work out there feels amazing. It was an honour to also be a
finalist alongside companies like Google, Philips, DesignIt and
R/GA. As a whole, the IxDA conference in Milan had great keynotes,
social events, Italian food and lots of UID alumni to catch up
with" says Gabriel Uggla.
The gala event saw 30 projects compete for 6 categories. The
ceremony took place at the East End Studios - Studio Novanta - a
complex of post-industrial warehouses once home to an airplane
The sound of collaboration
The use of sound in products has become increasingly important,
not only to enhance the exchange of information, but also to bring
a product design experience to the next level. At UID, it is simply
known as Industrial Sound Design (ISD). The Sound Design course,
where students from different master's programmes collaborate, has
been running for a decade offering students an opportunity to
experiment with sound in relation to product development.
"Working with two colleagues from the APD Programme, I could see
how our different expertise complemented each other in a fruitful
way. Another important learning outcome for me was how sound can
influence our experiences of a product and how to combine form,
sound and light into a whole experience for the user", says Selvi
Olgac from the Master's Programme in Interaction Design.
experimenting with different sounds to accompany the Otto
The design team actually produced their own sounds with a
synthesizer to match the form expression of the product. They
wanted to create sounds that felt precise and uplifting, yet
subtle. The goal was to have all sounds stay within a coherent
sound family while reinforcing the identity of the
Whether Otto will ever become a real medication toll in the
hands of asthmatics remains to be seen.
"We have in fact been contacted by several medical companies,
but at this point in time there are no concrete plans of getting
Otto to market", says Gabriel Uggla.