Gabriele Meldaikyte spent the past year studying a ubiquitous affliction that she calls "one-handedness." The recent Royal College of Art grad began her exploration by redesigning inconvenient packaging that all but requires the use of our non-dentist-approved "third hands" (your teeth) to open. Though we may be highly efficient multitaskers at our best, when hurt we could all benefit from a bit of an assist.
First consider all the non-emergency situations in which you’re stuck navigating life single-handedly: cradling a baby in the crook of your arm while heating milk on the stove, carrying a salad bowl from the kitchen to the dining room while trying to shake open a bag of croutons, or fumbling with your smartphone. (Granted, we should slow down.) A tool crafted to complement one-handed actions would make life easier, true. More importantly, it would have obvious implications for folks with grip issues or other disabilities.
Meldaikyte compiled a collection of these "stories" as part of her research, then chose to focus on what she found most problematic: first aid kits.
A close examination of kits on the market revealed a strangely out-of-date supply of incongruous items. Sure, gloves make sense for the times when you’re tending to others, but safety pins? Spilling those on the floor may just complicate what’s already undoubtedly a tense situation. Ultimately, though, it wasn’t the supplies that Meldaikyte found most concerning. "The biggest issue to me was that there is no system," she tells Co.Design.
The brain does strange things when confronted with big-time pain. You can read or rationalize about how to react, but real-time throbbing or blistering pain zooms the mind into an echo chamber where the only thing that registers is your own voice screaming. So Meldaikyte got first-aid trained, and set out to simplify the sets in a variety of ways to make quick thinking (and taking action) easier for the wounded. Everything in her kit can be unwrapped and used with one hand only.
Components are color coded: burns and scalds in yellow, minor scratches in orange, and the serious uh-ohs (deep, bleeding cuts) are rendered in red. You’re likely to be well aware of what you’re dealing with, but if you’re unsure which category your mishap falls into, you can peruse Meldaikyte’s description of each injury and the step-by-step how-to for treatment, which are clearly expressed through self-explanatory pictograms.
This incorporation of the functional trifecta of "communication, information, and navigation" is where Meldaikyte thrives. Her previous Multi-Touch Gestures turned the physical movements we use to control our iPhones into interactive sculptural machines. As of now, her First-Aid Kit is just a prototype, but one that proposes an important rethinking of issues ranging from self-sufficiency to how we’re expected to interact with products. This product, the designer hopes, anticipates reactions to emergencies in ways that are designed to give you relief fast.