Why We Take the

Empathetic Approach to Design

By Chloe Hill

July 30, 2015

The word “empathy” is rarely associated with business and the marketplace. However, it is an important component of making a good, enduring product.


To follow this empathetic approach, companies and designers must put themselves in their customer’s shoes or, address a customer’s need that isn’t being addressed elsewhere. Empathy leads to investigation and the more the unique situation is examined and explored the better the solution to the problem. This requires care, patience, devotion and the questioning of assumptions.


The work of industrial designer Patricia Moore is a striking example of this empathetic approach. When working for the Loewy Design Firm in the 1970s, she began to question why everyday products were not designed with the needs of the elderly in mind. (At the time, Moore was only in her mid-twenties.) A close relationship with her grandfather throughout her life informed her inquiry.


In order to further understand the needs of the elderly population, she embarked on a journey that few designers since or after are willing to devote themselves to.


She literally put herself in her customer’s shoes.


With the help of a make-up artist friend she disguised herself as an old woman in order to  experience the everyday problems that the elderly encounter.


Her costume included the obvious wig and a change in wardrobe in addition to more extensive modifications to mimic being hard of hearing, visually impaired, arthritic, and afflicted with osteoporosis.

For the next three years, Patricia Moore walked the streets of New York City and lived her life as an 80 year old woman --  taking careful note of her experiences along the way. (She did this all while working part time at a design firm and pursuing graduate studies in Gerontology at Columbia University.)


She also tested out different costumes (wealthy, middle-class and poor) and different locations throughout the country to see if it affected her experiences and the treatment she received.

What she discovered is that the elderly endure and face a lot of prejudices and that they defied many of her own assumptions. For example, she found that the elderly whined and complained less than any other population of people. She also found that they are made to feel as though they are no longer important valuable members of society and are many times ignored and treated rudely in day to day interactions.


The knowledge she gained propelled her to advocate for the elderly and informed her design work. She founded her own design firm, Moore and Associates, to create designs that meet the needs of people throughout their entire lifespan.

Here's Patricia Moore talking about her important, groundbreaking work:

Patricia Moore: 2012 RIT Innovation Hall of Fame

While Hypnap hasn’t gone to anywhere near the lengths of Patricia Moore, we are inspired and influenced by her efforts as we develop the TruRest.


Taking the empathetic approach is important to Hypnap. We want to design our TruRest for all the different populations within our society and bring a truly superior product to market. For example, we redesigned the adjustments on the TruRest so that they would be easier to use for people with arthritis.


Through interacting with different people and having them each try the TruRest at the trade show we attended, at gatherings we attended, and on airplane flights that we took, we discovered that our original prototype did not accommodate people with larger waist lines, including pregnant women. Therefore we are currently developing a TruRest that will accommodate people with larger waste lines.


Taking a cue from Patricia Moore, our industrial designer created a sort of prosthetic stomach piece that we can wear to get an idea of what using the TruRest is like for this population. We are also consulting with doctors and specialists and studying as much research as we can so that every avenue is explored to allow us to create a product that addresses the needs of as many people as possible.


By wearing the different “shoes” of our customers in as many situations as we can, we strive to challenge assumptions to create the best possible product.


Why Our Product Uses a Supported Forward Leaning Position

By Chloe Hill

July 23, 2015

The Supported Forward Leaning Position to Aid Diaphragmatic Breathing

After you run a race or hike a steep incline you may feel compelled to lean forward with your hands on your knees to catch your breath. There’s a fancy name for what you do there with your body – it’s called  supported forward leaning position (also called “tripod” position). This position allows the diaphragm to work more efficiently and take over most of the breathing work (from the chest muscles) which facilitates deeper easier breathing.


Doctors and physical therapists sometimes recommend using this position as an adjunct to medical treatment for people with chronic lung disease when breathing becomes difficult.

Hypnap TruRest

Although resting in the forward leaning position may seem like a foreign concept, it is actually quite common and a natural part of human behavior. For example, we frequently lean forward on our elbows with our heads in our hands to rest, or with our heads resting on our folded arms on a table to nap.


That’s why our Hypnap TruRest supports the user in the lean forward position. This position eases the work of the chest muscles and engages the diaphragm to facilitate deeper easier breathing. Just like when you lean over after a long run. More air can enter the lungs improving healthy functioning of the body and stimulating the relaxation response.


Allow Hypnap to help you incorporate more mindful, healthful breathing into your routine whether it be on an airplane, in the office or at home!


How Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing Promotes Relaxation

By Chloe Hill

July 9, 2015

Take a deep breath. Seriously. Deep controlled breathing is a simple way to promote calm and relaxation.


When you breathe using your diaphragm, your diaphragm stimulates the vagus nerve which is the longest cranial nerve in the body extending from the brainstem to the abdomen by way of the heart, esophagus and lungs. The vagus nerve works in conjunction with the parasympathetic nervous system which, along with the sympathetic nervous system is a branch of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system operates involuntarily within our bodies to regulate functions such as heart rate, digestion, respiratory rate and pupillary response.


The sympathetic nervous system initiates the fight or flight response and is considered to be the accelerator, for example, speeding the heart rate and breathing.


The parasympathetic nervous system initiates a “rest and digest” or “feed and breed” response and counteracts the sympathetic nervous system by calming and decelerating our system, for example, slowing the heart rate and breathing, lowering blood pressure and relaxing the muscles. Electrical stimulation also called Vagus Nerve Stimulation or VNS is sometimes used to treat people suffering from depression and epilepsy.


When you use deep, controlled diaphragmatic breathing you are naturally stimulating the vagus nerve which promotes the relaxation response.


Optimal Functioning of the Body through Deep Diaphragmatic Breathing

By Chloe Hill

July 2, 2015

Slow Down and Take a Deep Breath

Modern life is busy and fast paced. There are many things to do, places to go and people to see. In the mayhem sometimes health and wellness are sacrificed. Mindful breathing has numerous health benefits and is an easy habit to incorporate into daily routines.


Many people fall into a pattern of shallow breathing in their daily lives either due to stress or because they were never educated on proper breathing techniques. Shallow breathing is usually faster, muscles are tense and there is an emphasis on using the chest muscles which were not meant to be used for long periods and tire easily. Shallow breathing does not allow an optimal amount of air to enter the lungs.


In contrast, deep, controlled breathing that engages the diaphragm and abdominal muscles allows for optimal respiration and promotes health, wellness, calm and relaxation.

How the Lungs Work

As you breathe in air flows through your mouth, nose, windpipe and into smaller tubes called bronchi until it reaches the millions of small air sacs that reside in your lungs called alveoli. The alveoli release oxygen to your blood which is then distributed to cells throughout the body. Through the cells it is combined with nutrients from food to produce energy.


If you are not getting enough oxygen in your blood you are more susceptible to exhaustion, illness and disease. If you are not breathing deep enough oxygen will not be able to reach the air sacs in the lungs where it can then be distributed throughout the body and utilized.

Techniques for Diaphragmatic Breathing

Deeper, easier, and more controlled breathing can best be achieved by engaging the diaphragm which is a large, dome shaped muscle located at the base of the lungs, and the abdominal muscles which work in conjunction with the diaphragm to circulate air in and out of the lungs.


To practice this type of breathing while sitting up, place one hand just below your ribcage. This will allow you to feel your diaphragm as you breathe. Then tighten your stomach muscles, letting them fall inward as you exhale through slightly open lips.





“Getting the Air You Need: A Practical Guide to Coping with and Managing Shortness of Breath” Adapted and written by the oncology nurses from the Juravinski Cancer Centre: Lorraine Martelli-Reid, RN(EC), NP-Adult, Sue Cole, RN, Sally Hapke, RN, Marilyn Miscione, RN, Janet Poirier, RN and Nancy Ross, RN with Theresa Harper, RN.


How We Marketed Hypnap at the

Travel Goods Trade Show

By Chloe Hill

June 8, 2015

We attended the Travel Goods Trade Show in Las Vegas on March 10-12 and it was a great experience! We received a lot of positive and helpful feedback, made some great contacts and overall we learned a tremendous amount.

Exhibitors and Attendees

Exhibitors included large name luggage and travel accessory like companies such as Samsonite, Lipault and Eagle Creek and a healthy number or smaller companies just starting out like Hypnap.



Attendees included both large corporate chain and smaller independently owned retailers, distributors, manufacturers and members of the press.


Hypnap booth and next door booth LeTrav

FaFa purse clip/hangers

Hypnap Booth

The concept for our booth was centered around the idea of allowing tradeshow attendees to test the TruRest under similar conditions to that which they would experience on an airplane flight. To facilitate this we purchased 4 airplane seats and placed them within a pitch of 30in of each other. There is a range of space measurement between airplane seats that varies from airline to airline, from airplane to airplane and from seat grade to seat grade. We chose the smallest pitch used in airplanes today.

Darryl takes his post. His job at that point was to use the TruRest so passersby could see our product in action. It’s a tough job but somebody had to do it. Thanks for taking one for the team Darryl!

Computer rendering of Hypnap tradeshow booth

Our airplane seats being unloaded for set up.

In the photo above our prototype is displayed on our materials table. Note that our prototype is still in development and undergoing testing and modifications which is why it looks a bit different than the computer renderings featured on our website. There are also a variety of cushions here (different shapes, sizes and materials) to test with the TruRest.

In the photo above Hypnap TruRest is mounted on the airplane tray table. The TruRest has a track and adjustment on the base allowing it to slide toward the user giving the user more space to lean forward (in case the passenger in the seat in front decides to recline his or her seat). The TruRest also adjusts in hight and angle. The head support also adjusts in angle and the cushions are removable and adjustable to fit different face shapes and sizes.


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