In 1854, the US Patent Office issued Patent No. 11,135 to O.H. Needham for a breast pump. To the chagrin of mothers everywhere, not much about the device has changed since then.
One mother, Catherine D’Ignazio, says enough is enough: This weekend, September 20–21, more than 150 people will convene at the MIT Media Lab for a hackathon to “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck.” D’Ignazio, a research affiliate at MIT’s Civic Media group, is one of the organizers of the event.
Designers, engineers, health care specialists, and educators from around the country will brainstorm ways to make a better device, and attend guest talks about pediatric and lactation research. At the conclusion of the event, participating teams will present their ideas to a panel of experts, including health care specialists and representatives of breast pump manufacturers.
The September event follows a brainstorm session held in May, which was inspired by a New York Times article titled “Shouldn’t the Breast Pump Be as Elegant as an iPhone and Quiet as a Prius by Now?”
“With buying a breast pump, you make a lot of commitments that aren’t easy to go back on. It’s 50 times more complicated than buying a car. The entire matching-the-person-to-thing experience, it all needs to change,” explained Tal Achituv, a research affiliate with the Fluid Interfaces group, during the May event.
Although registration is closed, the organizers say there are other ways for interested health care experts, moms, and others to get involved, including attending the final presentations on Sunday afternoon.
Find out more at the event’s website.