Morrama founder Jo Barnard explains the studio’s latest concept, which uses a data-driven app and 3D printing to create bespoke menopause supplements.
Morrama has developed a menopause management app concept called Luma as part of a self-initiated project involving AI technology and 3D printed pills.
Research for the design began in October 2022 following the founding of the studio’s Morrama Lab think tank. Morrama founder Jo Barnard says that while there has been more talk about menopause in recent years, there is still “not enough done and not enough talked about” in this area.
Barnard explains that in January the government rejected legislation that would have allowed women with debilitating menopausal symptoms to take time off work. This suggests that, according to Barnard, few “key business decision makers” make the menopause, as leadership positions in most sectors are still male-dominated.
“Not just a switch that is flipped”
Morrama’s Luma concept was developed to collect data such as pulse peaks, temperature fluctuations, sleep patterns and increased stress. While users could enter data manually by answering questions, Morrama intends the app to be low maintenance and use a smartwatch to more easily provide accurate data.
Once the data is compiled, dietary supplements are tailored to the user with a unique balance of three natural ingredients. Then they are automatically 3D printed and shipped to the user monthly in a package that fits through the mailbox.
Morrama plans to use a new “cellulose-based, biodegradable” blister pack being developed by PulPac, Barnard says. An optional refill container would make the service “as plastic-free and sustainable as possible,” she adds.
Barnard describes menopause as “something you go through, not just a switch that flicks.” Users would initially be given a more general combination of ingredients, but as symptoms change and the app collects more data each month, so would the dosage of the supplement’s ingredients. If symptoms persist, AI technology could automatically increase the dose and send the information to the 3D printer.
“The biggest challenge”
With services like Luma, cost-effective and automated deployment “is the biggest challenge,” says Barnard. She adds that “more bespoke services like this will happen” and that 3D printing is the way forward as it opens up the possibility of making small batches for bespoke medicines, rather than requiring minimum order quantities of five to ten thousand tablets.
“When we think of 3D printing, we often think of plastics. It’s essentially the same thing,” says Barnard, but with different materials.
Three nozzles with the ingredients would layer up the right ratio of each depending on the user’s symptoms. The ingredients would need to be mixed with a carrier like a gel to make them malleable for 3D printing.
“Draw from the power of plants”
“Some women are comfortable taking hormones, which doctors often recommend, but some feel uncomfortable pumping their bodies full of hormones every day for maybe a decade,” says Barnard. She adds that there has been a general trend in recent years to “find more natural remedies.”
Morrama’s suggested ingredients have already been used to treat menopause – some for thousands of years – each of them “harnessing the power of plants”.
The unique compound contains a combination of Black Cohosh to help treat hot flashes, Lion’s Mane to reduce brain fog and Ginseng which aims to increase libido. Where legal, the studio has also considered using THC “which mimics aspects of anandamide, an endocannabinoid that helps regulate body temperature,” says Barnard.
“Unobtrusive but intuitive”
Luma is designed for a specific demographic — typically women between the ages of 45 and 55 — and the app aims to be accessible to all tech abilities. Barnard says Morrama designed much of the app to be “unobtrusive but intuitive.”
In addition to providing access to an integrated forum, the app would provide users with information on symptom management and the ingredients in the supplements. Barnard says the goal is to be “transparent” about what users put into their bodies.
Barnard says it’s an advantage if its visual identity makes the app feel “trustworthy,” so it may be best to avoid “a hip, startup vibe.” Currently, the concept has a “deliberate lack of identity” and lack of a “corporate feel,” allowing it to be easily adapted to any brand that adopts and invests in it, explains Barnard.
“First to market”
While there are dietary supplements for menopause, there is currently nothing that can be tailored to the individual. Barnard describes Luma as an opportunity for a company to “be the first in the market to do it.”
She says the “agility” of the concept makes it ideal for a “smaller tech-focused start-up,” as it could launch with 50 users and doesn’t require mass production.