MERU would like to say a Big Thank You to the London based design research agency The Big Picture for all their support over the past six months.

In October 2012 The Big Picture visited MERU and very kindly offered to fund an expensive injection moulding tool for our new product, the Popz switch. Without the tool we would have to continue moulding the old switches by hand; a laborius process with a high reject rate. The new switches are much better quality and have the added feature of adjustable sensitivity. The new Popz switch will be available from our online shop in the next few weeks.

Popz and AquaPopz switches

Over the last 4 months The Big Picture team have also undertaken an important piece of pro bono research for us into the design of products for children with autism. MERU has in the past designed 2 custom-made products for children with autism; a light switch cover and a spinning/stimming wristband. We often wondered if these products could help other children on the autistic spectrum but we have never had the resources to conduct such research.

The Big Picture team virtually jumped at the opportunity and spent 4 months speaking to families and carers of autistic children as well as teachers and experts in the field with 2 aims:
– To explore the day-to-day needs of children with autism to help inform the innovation process and development of new products to meet these needs.
– To explore responses to two product ideas and identify how likely these are to meet the needs of a wider audience of autistic children.

Their final report suggested that despite the fact that many parents were keen to share their own ideas of products they felt would be helpful in their daily lifes,  the dynamic nature of autism means that there is actually very little or no commonality in these needs. MERU were instead given a ‘Toolbox of ideas’ collated from the research and interviews from which other concepts could develop from.

Surprisingly however there was also much positive feedback for the light switch cover, and it was suggested that with some modifications to the design that this could be both a popular and incredibly useful product for many families with both autistic and neuro-typical children. So watch this space!

Many thanks again to The Big Picture for all their time, skills and financial support, and we very much look forward to working with you again in the future.

If you or anyone you know has an idea that may help children with autism, or if you think that the switch cover idea is a good one, please get in touch with vicky@meru.org.uk and tell us more.