A New Inhaler Wants To Remove The Social Stigma For Kids With Asthma

A New Inhaler Wants To Remove The Social Stigma For Kids With Asthma
Arts & Culture

Hue is a colorful inhaler designed for kids with asthma to enable them to feel less self-conscious when taking their medicine

Anna Johansson
  • 19 june 2017

Asthma is a chronic condition that affects about 25 million people or about eight percent of the population. Although it often doesn’t develop until adulthood, a large percentage of children also have this chronic respiratory disease. In fact, 6.2 million or 8.4 percent of all those under the age of 18 have asthma.

Unfortunately, childhood asthma has some negative social and emotional impacts. The media often portrays children with asthma as comical kids with few friends, which makes it even more difficult for those carrying an inhaler to fit in. Even though asthma is the most common chronic disease in childhood, it’s not widely accepted, and many kids feel the social and emotional pressures through bullying and negative self-image.

This is a growing issue with attempts to conquer bullying in schools. Now, a California-based designer named Tim Zarki wants to take a more specific approach to the problem and help kids improve their personal image. He’s designed an inhaler called “Hue,” which he hopes they’ll feel a little more proud to wear. Zarki began designing Hue during the #breathebetterwithcs community design challenge presented by Creative Session.

“Hue is a concept for a multi dose inhaler that is meant to make a bold statement instead of being a source of self-consciousness,” reads the product description on Behance. Zarki has confirmed this statement by talking about how he wanted to develop a product that would be highly functional while also improving the social situation for kids.

Zarki used 3D printing to create a product with a variety of colors and materials that would make the common inhaler a little more appealing—and less intimidating—to look at. Rather than coming off as a scary medical device, it takes on the appearance of a trendy decoration.

There are a variety of colors combinations to choose from. Each device is designed with gradient colors to add visual interest. Hue also offers transparency around the bottle of medicine so that kids can see exactly what’s underneath. It allows the disease a little more clarity for the younger generation with the illness. It also has an elastic band connected at the bottom so that it can be attached to a backpack or a belt loop and be shown off instead of hidden.

Zarki hopes that this much cooler device will help to break down the unfortunate stigma surrounding asthma for kids. When kids want to explain how the inhaler works to others, they can easily show them the bottle of medicine inside and even take it apart without damaging it to educate their peers.

The looks are the most exciting features of these new inhalers, since the inhaler still has the same function as the original design. It’s still an aerosolized medicine inside a pressurized canister with a counter for multi-dose uses, after all. There’s nothing ultra-advanced about the device—it’s just a little trendier.

With years of psycho conditioning and bullying in school, it may be awhile until the stigma surrounding children with asthma disappears. Thanks to the media and an inherent dislike for things that kids don’t understand, it will be hard to eliminate the emotional impact of having asthma with a single device design.

Still, this is a step in the right direction. Illnesses are scary for everyone, but especially for children who may not fully understand the implications of taking medicine daily or not. It’s important for kids to feel safe and comfortable as they keep up with their medical needs, and creating inhalers that are made just for kids could give this goal a boost. When they breathe in, they can do so feeling a little less self-conscious.

It would be nice to see more medicines and treatments taking on this same kid-friendly approach. These devices are still in the production stage and have yet to hit the market. If they become as popular as we’re predicting them to be, this may not be the end for colorful medical devices that help children with chronic illnesses breathe a little easier—literally.

Tim Zarki

+Social Stigma
+tim zarki

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Bethany is the Co-Founder of Tech Will Save Us, which teaches multiple skills related to technology and design and provides DIY kits allowing makers to build their own devices with no soldering required. Her work regularly extends into design, art direction, and helping brands and businesses imagine a more positive and collaborative future with technology. She is currently based in London, overseeing all aspects of Technology Will Save Us with a focus on communications, partnerships and brand experience.


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