Muscle Relax is a wearable device that uses vibration and heat to promote muscle recovery. Constructed as a strap-on velcro device, you can put it on many different body parts to aid in warm up, cool down, or recovery. Heat and vibration both result in increased blood flow, which allows your body to speed up its recovery process by getting more nutrients to the area and preventing lactic acid build up. Muscle Relax was designed to be as simple as possible for the user, just strap it on, plug it in, and relax while it works.
I am happy with how my project turned out. Having done nothing like this before and I really didn’t know where I would end up or how to do any of the tasks that were needed. I was able to complete many of the important aspects of the device, such as keeping it low cost, making something that I would use for myself, and making it look like something that could be packaged and sold. There are still a lot of things that can be done to improve it but ultimately I like how Muscle Relax turned out.
How it changed
In my first project post I said I wanted to make something that used heat and vibration, could be put on multiple different parts of the body, and could put out more or less heat and vibration with controls. Muscle Relax does all of this. The design changed a lot from what I originally thought it would be but I think that was for the better because it made it more versatile. The controls are also limited since you can’t change the power of heat and vibration separately but that helps it be as simple as possible and also reduces the cost.
My largest hurdle was definitely figuring out how to best power my device. First I tried 9-volt batteries but those were big, heavy, and didn’t give enough power. Then I ordered lithium ion batteries but those were still pretty big and they were expensive. I finally ended up using a variable voltage power supply because it gave enough power, allowed the module to be smaller and lighter, and gave me a way to control the intensity by changing the voltage. Other hurdles that I came across had to do with the materials and construction. When I ordered motors I couldn’t find anything in the US so I had to order from china, which took 3 weeks and when they got here 2 of them were not the size I was expecting. Then when I was messing around with battery power I put too much voltage into one motor and burnt it out so I was left with one motor and not enough time to order more. I used this situation to redesign the strap and make it a more narrow and versatile device, which has become one of the major benefits of my device over others that are on the market.
With More Time
While I am very happy with how Muscle Relax turned out, there are still some things that I look forward to improving in the future. The first will be finding a way to make it wireless so people can use it in more places. This means I will have to find batteries that are small enough, light enough, and provide enough power for both heat and vibration, which can be a lot of voltage and current. The second aspect that I would like to improve is the controls. I like that the ‘plug in and go’ lets it be as simple as possible and still gives some control for the intensity of the device, but I want to be able to control the heat separate from the vibration. Initially this probably means buttons or a knob, but ideally I would like to have it be controlled by an app.