PHOTO COURTESY OF DYSON CANADA

Undu is a thin, wearable gel pack that is shaped to fit the lower abdomen of your body. Because of its soft material, the gel pack can be integrated into underwear. The wearable gel pack was designed to relieve menstrual pain. 

Undu won the 2019 James Dyson Award in September, an international design award that recognizes innovative design engineers.

Charles Katrycz, Robin Linton, Katherine Porter, and Graham McLaughlin worked together to create Undu, and Associate Professor Benjamin Hatton and Professor Glenn Hibbard helped the team to design and manufacture the “world’s thinnest wearable gel pack.”

Undu can be filled with any kind of thermal liquid or gel that can be found in other heat packs. This feature is a result of the manufacturing process, which injects flow channels into the silicone material.

The technology behind the Undu gel pack is based on some of Katrycz’s research and material processing procedures as a PhD student in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering.

As a team, the four have complementary skills and mindsets: Linton came up with the idea of trying to solve menstrual pain, Katrycz and McLaughlin worked primarily on the manufacturing process, and Porter worked on the end product design and applicability. 

The group had been working on the product for a few months before they learned about the award and thought it would be a great opportunity to kick Undu into high gear. 

Porter said in an interview with The Varsity that the team wanted to solve a problem that is “not adequately addressed and immersed in the market.” 

The group hopes that the technology will help to “revolutionize an area that we think requires attention and hasn’t really received it.” 

Katrycz and Porter noted that during the innovation process, it is more important to ask the right questions than to find the right answers. As such, the team surveyed nearly 120 people to better understand how their technology could be applied. 

Porter and Katrycz conveyed in the interview that the potential of the technology to solve a problem as important as menstrual pain was what led to their submission to the James Dyson Award.

Now, the team is developing prototypes and working with other technical garment designers to integrate Undu into a technical fabric that can be worn on the body. Once the product reaches the market, the team hopes to make the price accessible to consumers. 

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