Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the leading cause of death worldwide. It is a grossly undiagnosed disease and many people live with it without even realizing they have it. This team of design researchers was tasked with uncovering ways in which preventable calls to ambulance services and admissions to Emergency Rooms could be reduced, because often, lack of awareness about the disease results in panicked calls for medical assistance which can be avoided through appropriate at-home care.  



The team was given an unique opportunity to talk to two COPD patients and spend one-on-one time with them in their homes to get an understanding of their day to day life. The participants were given an exercise to complete during the course of the in-depth interview. They detailed their daily activities and created a corresponding mood-chart which highlighted emotional patterns attached to physical activities on a typical day. The researchers uncovered the many invisible struggles that patients with COPD have, as well as the big and small things that bring the patients joy in their lives. In addition, the team conducted intercept interviews with random subjects at Copenhagen Central Station to gain insight into the public perception of COPD. Remote interviews were also conducted with medical professionals to understand how they view patients with COPD.


Final Concept

The conversations with the COPD patients inspired the design researchers to find an innovative way to build awareness about COPD to, not only build more empathy for COPD patients, but to also motivate young people to get early screenings for COPD and de-stigmatize the condition. Much of the research indicated that few people are aware of COPD so they don’t request screenings, and even health care providers do not initiate screenings until patients are complaining of symptoms.

#BreathTaking is an interactive, and mobile pop up installation that travels around college campuses. With a 3 wall projection of a beautiful, peaceful and pleasant scenery of a park inside of a truck, the user is invited to go inside and sit on a stationary bike to experience a simulated bike ride through the park. The bike ride slowly becomes more and more challenging causing the person to experience what it feels like to suddenly become out of breath while engaging in a normal activity- a common experience for COPD patients.

After the installation, the users will be met outside by health care volunteers ready to conduct screenings- a simple process that takes no more than ten minutes. The users are then invited to participate in a global movement by sharing a photo of themselves in front of the truck using the #BreathTaking on their social media to raise awareness about COPD and to encourage others to join.