In mid-January, I covered Consumer Convenience Technologies’ Easy Lid. In my guide, I wrote that while most people logically and naturally associate technology with products like AirPods and the Apple Watch, the truth is that technology is not “singularly about things that light up and make noise”. Furthermore, I also said that this lesson is instructive primarily because humans exist in a tangible third-dimensional reality. While it’s true that analogue pieces of technology like the aforementioned EEasy Lid aren’t as exciting or as headline-grabbing as iPhones, MacBooks or AirPods, it’s also true that analogue tools are valid examples of assistive technology in their own right.
Boom Home Medical’s Loona is another such tool.
The Loona is, perhaps unglamorously, a bedside urinal designed for women. The description on the product page describes it as the ideal solution for “anyone with a female anatomy” and is perfect for “overnight needs, recovery after surgery or injuries, as well as travel and camping.” Simply put, Loona is a piece of assistive technology meant to make responding to bodily functions a more accessible experience.
If you really need a traditional tech hook, the Loona can be purchased with Apple Pay for $40. It was designed by the team at Herbst Produkt, the same industrial design firm responsible for Brita and Molekule.
Loona’s backstory begins with Boom Home Medical co-founders Byrdie Lifson Pompan and Dr. Valerie Ulene, connected when, in 2012, Pompan was misdiagnosed by doctors twice. Pompan, a former Creative Artists Agency literary agent, was initially told that she had Bell’s palsy when, in fact, she had a brain tumor. (For her part, Dr. Ulene is a physician who specializes in preventive medicine and public health.) Realizing there were others who needed help finding the right specialists to address their health needs, the pair launched Clear Health Advisors , which precedes the Home Medical Boom. According to Pompan, the idea for Boom Home Medical aptly came to Dr. Ulene one night when she had to use the bathroom, something she does several times during the night. The medical term for this is nocturia, a condition experienced by an estimated 50 million Americans. Statistics show that one in three people over the age of 30 experience nocturia, while 70% report being “bothered by it,” according to Pompan. “That single thought in the middle of the night gave rise to [to the Loona],” she told me in a recent email interview.
“While Loona was originally designed primarily for older adults, who often face challenges when it comes to mobility and are at risk of falling when getting up to use the bathroom at night, we quickly recognized that our audience was much broader and that many people could benefit from the convenience of a beautiful bedside urinal that is simple to use,” said Dr. Ulene in an interview earlier this month. “This includes anyone who wakes up frequently at night because they need to urinate, such as pregnant women, as well as people recovering from surgery or injury. Loona can also be a great convenience for women when they are on the go and may not be able to find a clean, accessible bathroom to use.”
Both Pompan and Dr. Ulene are aware of the accessibility benefits of Loona. The fact is, product relevance and usability go beyond simply having to go. From a pragmatic perspective, the fact that one has a Loona (or any other urinal) next to the bed is a real benefit in terms of not having to get up. For seniors or others with certain physical conditions, walking to and from the bathroom in the dark is a tenuous proposition. Not only can they make it to the bathroom in time, but there is also a high probability of falling due to limited range of motion, balance and impaired vision in part due to darkness. These are not trivial considerations. The Boom Home Medical team may be intentionally targeting women with Loona, but the concept has a much wider applicability. Anyone can benefit.
Make no mistake, Loona (and its ilk) is genuine assistive technology.
In terms of the feedback, Pompan explained that it was “positive and informative”. Openly discussing the bathroom routine isn’t something most people do, she said, but Boom Home Medical’s clients have been candid about their experiences with nature’s call. “[They’ve] shared deeply personal stories with us – stories about incontinence, about fighting cancer, about caring for loved ones,” said Pompan. “They tell us about the obstacles they face every day and what can make it easier to overcome those obstacles. We take your stories seriously. We want to listen to them and learn from them. Ultimately, our goal is to create a complete line of products based on our customers’ needs.”
Dr. Ulene supported her co-founder’s sentiments. “Our customer feedback has also taught us a lot about who is using Loona and why they are using it,” she said of the response. “Some of this feedback is what we expected – we hear from older adults who have a fear of falling at night, and from individuals recovering from surgery or an injury who struggle to go to the bathroom. But some of the feedback came as a real surprise: for example, we heard from long-distance truckers who don’t feel safe in the restrooms available to them on the road, boaters who appreciate having a Loona aboard their headless craft, and fans of historical reenactments. who simply love the convenience of Loona.”
Shoppers love Loona online. The product has a nearly 5-star rating, with many people praising attributes such as stealth, ease of use, looks, portability, and more. One person gave it five stars for how it helps collect urine to use as garden fertilizer.
Critics also praised Loona. The Doctor. Ulene told me the product “won all three of the most prestigious design awards for consumer products” at this year’s Edison Awards, Red Dot Awards, and IF Awards. The honors, she added, go far in “further [supporting] our status as a disruptor in the home medical products industry.”
As for Boom Home Medical’s future ambitions, while the Loona isn’t technical in the conventional sense, the company has plans to incorporate technology into future inventions. The Doctor. Ulene said that future versions of Loona could include technology that aids in affordable home urine testing. There’s a lot of potential for iteration.
“Loona is just the beginning for Boom Home Medical. We plan to launch a suite of products across all four categories of home medical products – toilet, bath, apparel and mobility – to meet consumer needs,” Pompan said of the company’s future endeavors. “We already have several new products in the early stages of manufacturing, including a Loona designed for on-the-go use, a men’s personal urinal, and beautiful disposable pads that protect beds and chairs from urinary leakage. Everything we make will be beautifully designed, highly functional and easy to use, because we believe that no one should feel constrained in taking care of their basic human needs.”