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Posted by Christie Nicholson  |   9 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)


One of the most popular wearable medical inventions so far might be the Band-Aid. A flexible strip that heals our cuts and burns and yet never slows us down. Well imagine if the band-aid could diagnose a problem and release therapeutic drugs hidden inside nanoparticles.

This is the new domain of a flexible very thin medical wearable under development by Korean researchers. And it gives a solid glimpse into our personalized medical future, and the future of wearable design.

The idea is that one day—in as little as five years—we'll have diagnostics and medical therapies delivered through devices that are as simple to wear as "a child's temporary tattoo," said Dae-Hyeong Kim, one of the researchers.


Wearable devices today are bulky, cold, obtrusive and impersonal. The future designs, like this proven patch, are intended to be nearly invisible to everyone including the wearer themselves.

Nanoscale membranes embedded into a stretchable, sticky fabric can detect tiny movements, deliver drugs and store all the necessary data. Now, this hasn't been tested on human patients yet, just pig skin. Their results are published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   9 Apr 2014  |  Comments (2)


Your correspondent was recently laid up for four days with the flu, an inevitability in an urban world where one must touch subway turnstiles, doorknobs and handrails used by millions. And while germ-spreading is a mere inconvenience for your average healthy blogger, it's a potentially deadly problem for heathcare environments.

Recognizing this, and reasoning that a fair amount of their fixtures are going into medical facilities, fixtures manufacturer Häfele has addressed the problem by developing Alasept, an antibacterial and antiviral coating that they can use to coat stainless steel fittings. Doorknobs, window handles and furniture components can be treated with Alasept, which not only prevents the adhesion of the germs, but actively kills off what bugs do stick to the material.


Posted by erika rae  |   7 Apr 2014  |  Comments (3)


A bioengineer at Stanford has been busy at work creating an alternative to the expensive microscopes used to diagnose blood-borne sicknesses like Malaria. What Manu Prakash came up with isn't just a microscope—it's a mini tool made of laser-cut cardstock parts and a lens that's destined for mass-produced design stardom. According to Stanford's release on the invention, the origami-based microscope can be thrown off a building, stomped on and even submerged in water with no harm done to its functionality, making it perfect for use in harsh climates.


Cardstock, lens and adhesive included, this bookmark-size design comes in at around 50 cents and takes 20 minutes to put together. See what the designer has to say about the creation of Foldscope and its open-source potential:


Posted by erika rae  |  28 Mar 2014  |  Comments (5)


You may remember The Agency of Design from our story on designing with energy, as told by the group's co-founder Richard Gilbert. Just as the Agency's design for a sustainably efficient lamp was focused on hard data—in lieu of the fluffy eco-friendly promises and features we too often see today— their recent project, PullClean, is largely based on research and observation. By investigating the daily movements of hospital employees, the Agency of Design came up with a door-handle-turned-sanitizer that makes it as convenient as possible for hospital employees to keep their hands clean by using one of the most used surfaces to do so.


As stated in their product video, hospital acquired infections kill around 100,000 people in the U.S. every year. As we know from Rachel Lehrer's two-part case study on the topic, sanitizing in a hospital environment is a real problem for employees—and when they're attending to already sick or injured patients, the germ-spreading quotient multiplies.


Gilbert explains in the video:


Posted by erika rae  |  16 Jan 2014  |  Comments (0)

WormGlue-Lead.jpgThanks to this little guy, scientists are finding more efficient ways to stitch people up

Design's role in medical discoveries is always an exciting topic of conversation, from design experiments like Jake Evill's 3D-printed cast to DIY solutions like the $15 iPhone hack with the potential to improve 600 million lives. Like the latter, this story begins with the efforts of a group of medical scientists. Through researching various animals that have evolved and mastered the art of staying upright in sticky surfaces (think slugs and flies), they were looking for a more effective medical adhesive that wouldn't have the same destructive qualities as traditional sutures.

Of course, we're used to seeing sutures (stitches, in non-technical parlance) in a more traditional, semi-gory Hollywood context—ripping in and out of skin with cringe-worthy zeal—but when you think about it, that can't be the best option for more delicate fix-ups involving, say, any of our internal organs. Now, a group of scientists have come up with a medical-grade adhesive design straight from nature, inspired by the viscous secretion from the Sandcastle Worm.


Posted by An Xiao Mina  |  11 Nov 2013  |  Comments (1)


One of the most devastating experiences of diseases that affect motor abilities is the lack of control over one's body. As designers, from graphic to industrial, we rely on our bodies everyday for fine movements like typing a keyboard and gestural motions like moving a mouse or tapping and swiping. So much of design is about streamlining these experiences, but what's always interested me is how design can also streamline user experiences for those suffering from a physical disability.

I recently learned about Lift Labs, a company that's developed Liftware, a spoon designed for individuals with Parkinson's Disease and the lesser known condition, essential tremor. Both of these can cause severe shaking in one's body, including the hands. This compounds the difficulty of everyday tasks, like eating and brushing one's teeth.



The spoon operates on a rechargeable battery that their web site says will last for a few days, and it detects the tremors in your hand, canceling out each movement to create a more steady eating experience. It doesn't cover all conditions—a simple test you can print out can help you determine if the product will be helpful for you—but the videos are incredible to watch. What once might have been a distracting or disempowering situation is instead made more manageable with the Liftware design.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  12 Jul 2013  |  Comments (1)


Of all the branches of industrial design that one could pursue, the design of medical devices is arguably the most important to society—and the least sexy-sounding. Automotive design probably wins the Most Sexy title, at least in the eyes of your average starry-eyed design student, so it's ironic that medical design gets short shrift, in that the price points of the finished products can easily keep pace with automobiles. A high-end endoscope, for example, doesn't sound like much more than a glorified camera—but they can set a hospital back some 70 grand.

That means endoscopes are developed-nation-only devices, despite their universally lifesaving potential. But a company called Evotech, which is dedicated to "[designing] medical devices for the bottom of the pyramid," wants to change that. In partnership with, they won Gold in the Social Impact Design category of the 2013 IDEA program for their low-cost endoscope. "Using frugal innovation techniques," Evotech writes, "we developed a light, portable endoscopy prototype for a fraction of the price of existing solutions."


Evotech and [] redesigned the Low-Cost Portable Endoscope with off-the-shelf parts as a $250-$2,500 device powered by a laptop, making the endoscope smaller, portable, energy efficient, durable, waterproof and with the ability to manufacture at scale.
The challenge was to improve the device's industrial design and develop a business model that would sustain it—and get the device to doctors whose patients would benefit from its use. With regard to the device's design, the endoscope needed to enable doctors to make more precise diagnoses and to perform surgeries through a small incision, reducing patients' risk of infection and recovery time. The endoscope also had to have the ability to be sterilized.


Posted by Teshia Treuhaft  |   2 Jul 2013  |  Comments (13)


Just about everyone has that really gruesome childhood story of the first time you broke a bone and went through the lengthy process of getting a cast. If you happen to grow up to be in the best professional field ever (i.e. design), you likely also have stories of fantastical apparatuses with which to get at that itch underneath the layers of plaster or ingenious ways to keep the cast dry at a pool party.

It's really no secret that designing for medical products is one of the fastest moving and innovative subsets of the product design game. Designing objects for better administering or healthcare, implementing new technology and identifying opportunities for innovation is serious business. So how did it take this long to merge with out favorite manufacturing technique of the latter, 3D printing? Whatever the reason, the recent work of Victoria University of Wellington graduate Jake Evill is certainly notable for merging digital fabrication and one of the most uncomfortable medical devices.


Achieving what will be the epitome of a Nervous System-meets-Spiderman aesthetic, the Cortex 3D-printed concept cast boasts some really nice features that put its traditional (and itchy) plaster counterpart to shame. The lightweight polyamide cast both allowing you to shower and recycle the parts when healing is complete. Paired with 3D scanning technology, the design and support structure could easily be tweaked to provide extra support to fractured areas of the arm.



Posted by Ray  |  25 Jun 2013  |  Comments (0)


I think most of us grow up with the assumption that one or both of our parents are entirely qualified to administer first aid, or at least enough to tend to our 'boo-boos,' and 'ouchies' as we learn the laws of physics the hard way. While I certainly hope that mom and pop have a basic knowledge of how to clean and dress a wound, there comes a point where one must learn to do so by him or herself. And even if one knows what and how he or she needs to do in order to treat a cut or scrape, there's also the matter of actually tearing packaging and unscrewing caps, which can get messy if the wound is on one's hand, as is often the case in, say, the kitchen. Enter Gabriele Meldaikyte's redesigned Home First Aid Kit.

The design of the traditional first aid kit fails to address how they function in real life and are frequently used by someone who has no medical training. I have created this first aid kit framework that can be expanded according to personal requirements. It could be used in the domestic environment or as an educational tool for nurseries, schools etc.

Burns, minor scratches and deep cuts to the hands are common injuries in the kitchen, which occur while cooking and preparing food. The first aid kit has been created for use with one hand only, so that a hand injury can be independently and efficiently treated, even if the accident occurred whilst you were alone.


Where the recent RCA grad's previously-seen "Multi-Touch Gestures" was a conceptual take on screen-based interaction design, the "Home First Aid Kit" is a rather more practical project—equally considered to be sure, but decidedly more pragmatic in terms of real-world applications.

My design divides the first aid kit according to particular injuries: Burns/scalds are marked in yellow colour, minor cuts/scratches are in orange and bleeding/deep cuts are red. Every injury is described in steps, guiding the casualty through the treatment process. I have provided special tools to enable this one-handed treatment. These include a bandage applicator, where bandage can be applied much faster and can be cut off with integrated blades (replacing scissors). A plaster and dressing applicator that works like a stamp: where you tear off the top protection layer and then you stamp it on the cut, with the remaining layer working as a protection for the next plaster etc.



Posted by core jr  |  19 Jun 2013  |  Comments (1)

WWU-SocialWearableHealth-COMP.jpgFrom L to R: Communication, Bonding, Air Quality

This past spring semester, Western Washington University's Industrial Design department teamed up with Anvil Studios, who were proud to sponsor a Senior I.D. studio, led by professor Dell King, focused on the intersection of health and mobile technology. We're pleased to present the results, courtesy of WWU ID and Anvil Studios.

Design Brief
Overview for Medical/Biometric Device and/or System:
Personal health monitoring and tracking with body worn sensors is becoming a big business. Several companies are addressing a variety of focused health monitoring systems from simple pedometers and calorie counters to fatigue sensors and full biometric activity tracking.

Comparative Market:
Nike fuel band, FitBit Flex Band, Adidas MiCoach, Metria, BodyBug, Basis, MioAlpha

Design Exploration Opportunities:
Wearable technology, Interface, User Experience, Docking or nesting, Modularity

WWU_DesignAudit-COMP.jpgInspiration images from the original brief



Posted by Ray  |   9 May 2013  |  Comments (1)


Semi-obscure pop culture reference: surely some of you "Futurama" fans remember Professor Farnsworth's fanciful Fing-Longer, which is essentially a prosthetic extension of one's index finger. At the end of the episode, we learn that the plot is itself a recursive loop of hypothetical situations, in which the professor was merely speculating as to what would have happened if he invented the Fing-Longer.


I'm sure that everyone can understand the appeal of having longer phalanges (the sheer brilliance of Farnsworth's invention is beyond the scope of this article), but few of us know what it's like to lose a finger. Sure, I've broken or otherwise injured all of my digits at some point, but my hand has only been out of commission temporarily, for no more than a week or so at a time. It's frustrating enough to be handicapped for a week but I can't imagine not being able to fix my bike, cook or clean, or tie my shoes, etc., without an ad hoc workaround for the rest of my life.


Colin Macduff of Olympia, Washington, lost most his right middle finger in an explosives accident in 2010 and decided to do something about it. Where Professor Farnsworth's source of inspiration begged the question (he got the idea for the Fing-Longer from his future self), Macduff, an experienced welder/fabricator, realized he could fabricate a simple biomechanical finger out of spare bicycle parts:


Posted by Teshia Treuhaft  |  16 Apr 2013  |  Comments (3)


Most of us are losing our hearing for some reason or another, either to poorly distributed sound from cheap earbuds or old age. Millennials seem to be destined to be shouting to hear each other in just a few short decades (if they aren't already). While most of us are interested in noise cancelling headwear for the airplane or subway, advancements in customized audio tech could improve a number of different markets from field equipment for military personnel to custom headphones.

Born out of the labs at MIT, Lantos Technologies formed in 2009 and developed a way to 3D map the ear canal. We've seen a lot of 3D scanning equipment recently, but in contrast to projects like the Photon that are fuzzy on the actual application, the ability to visualize the ear canal is an innovation likely to be a huge leap not only for audiologists, but designers of audio gear and medical equipment alike. Likewise, we owe a nod of appreciation to Boston Device Development for a nicely executed form and geometry for the handheld instrument .


The world's first Intra-Aural 3D scan system uses the "intensity measurement of two different wavelength bands of fluorescent light as they travel through an absorbing medium, capturing images and stictching them together with elegant algorithms, the system generates a highly accurate 3D map."



Essentially, the hand-held device has a probe that goes into the ear canal, fills with a liquid and then takes a series of photos that are combined to create the 3D model—all in less than 60 seconds. The ear scan raises a few thoughts: first, its sort of ugly in there, second, this could be huge for customized audio equipment. You also have to wonder, if modeling the interior of the ear canal is now possible, advancements in 3D mapping must have a myriad of other medical applications. Lantos recently received its clearance from the FDA to market the scanning system later this year in the United States.

Check out the video after the jump:


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  19 Mar 2013  |  Comments (4)


Despite ubiquitous assurances that "There's an app for that," one thing not included in the "that" is the detection of soil-transmitted helminths in human beings. (Helminths are the scientific name for hookworms and their nasty little friends.) Hookworm is a particular problem in developing nations without access to proper medical screening facilities, and Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a Canadian internal medicine specialist, figured out a clever way to tackle that with an extraordinarily simple smartphone hack.

We transformed a mobile phone into a microscope by temporarily mounting a 3-mm ball lens (Edmund Optics, Barrington, NJ) to the camera of an iPhone 4S (Apple, Cupertino, CA) with double-sided tape (3M, St. Paul, MN)... A small hole was punctured in the middle of the double-sided tape, and the ball lens was positioned in this hole. The ball lens was then centered over the iPhone camera lens, with the tape holding the lens to the camera for stability.

Kato-Katz thick smear slides were directly placed up against the double-sided tape, such that a small space less than 1 mm separated the lens from the slide (Figure 1). The mobile phone microscope was placed on top of a slide, which was illuminated from below by a generic, small, handheld incandescent flashlight powered by one AA battery. Images were viewed on the mobile phone screen, and magnification was increased with the digital zoom function; we estimate that this method could achieve an equivalent of 50-60 u magnification. The microscopist manually manipulated the slide underneath the mobile phone microscope to examine the entire area of stool on the slide.

Dr. Bogoch then tested his hacked iPhone on samples taken from schoolchildren in Tanzania and achieved a detection rate accurate to 69.4%—not good enough to eradicate the problem, but certainly a promising start. Dr. Bogoch's research paper in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene [PDF] estimates the hack can be "easily assembled in less than 5 minutes at a cost of approximately US $15."

We know you're thinking "Doc, that is awesome—but you pressed your phone up against human poo?" Of course he didn't, the man is a doctor!

The thick double-sided tape (3M) that held the ball lens to the mobile phone provided a 1-mm buffer zone between the slide and ball lens. In addition, the cellophane strip placed over stool on the slide prevented the ball lens from becoming contaminated with stool.

Understandably, Apple, 3M, and lens manufacturer Edmunds Optics would probably be squeamish about running a commercial advertising Dr. Bogoch's accomplishment. But the health implications for this hack are not to be underestimated. Hookworms reportedly infect more than 600 million people around the globe.

If you've been searching for a socially important Kickstarter project, I'd say you reach out to Dr. Bogoch and get down to business.

Posted by Dave Seliger  |  29 Jan 2013  |  Comments (0)


Since its inception in 2008, the Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation has become the poster child for internal innovation practices. The Center for Innovation focuses on engaging all of the stakeholders in the healthcare system, from doctors to patients to staff, and introducing the design process as a means of taking healthcare to the next level. We had the chance to sit down with the Center for Innovation's Gerry Greaney and Molly McMahon to talk about how design is reshaping healthcare.

Core77: What is the Center for Innovation?

Gerry Greaney: We're a very interesting and diverse group with backgrounds in design, healthcare, finance, budget management, IT, and we're taking the design thinking and design research approach to try to transform the delivery experience of healthcare.

Have you seen the Center transform, along with the culture and behaviors at the Clinic?

Molly McMahon: Definitely. When we first started, we moved out of this kind of raw space in the back area that wasn't finished and that was also right inside the patient clinic hallway. Our team was split—we didn't have a dedicated space for ourselves. Then last March, we moved into to this new, open space with everyone on the same floor. Space is a [scarce] commodity and really valued at Mayo. If you're given more space, then you're worth something. It shows that the Clinic has made an investment in us as well as through the work that we've been doing.

GG: I think what's happened over the past couple of years is that more and more groups throughout Mayo have engaged with the Center and as they've done that, they've started to really understand what the value is. When you bring something like a design approach into a medical institution, it's very different than the scientific, analytical lab approach that's prominent there. It's hard to understand initially what the value of this is—until you experience it. And then once you go through that, you can see the benefit. And when that happens, more people talk about it. It's about getting a foothold.


What kinds of attitudes have you seen? When you say, "I do design and innovation," do people balk at that?

MM: I would say it's more of a slight confusion or an 'Explain more,' because as soon as you say the word 'design,' from their perspective, they're looking at it as, "Are you designing the curtains in the room or the bed? What are you trying to design around or change?" From that, I think it's more of a confusion around the term 'service design' and how it fits into how what they're doing and what we're going to provide to their services.

GG: I think there are times when people may wonder why we're needed and we have to show why we are. Maybe we go a little further to do that and to really capture the stories people tell and things we're told by patients and then translate it into something that applies to the work that needs to be done.

So why is the Center for Innovation needed?

GG: I think it's because there's only so much you can do to address the change that needs to happen in healthcare with the approaches that have been tried already. So there are certain things that you can identify through equality efforts, things that have made huge progress in improving efficiency. But there are certain things that you don't see when you look at things that way. By looking very carefully through a patient experience and trying to understand the greater context of health for patients, you start to see some opportunities that you might not see if we were only focused on purely the medical side of things, purely the care aspect.


Posted by An Xiao Mina  |  19 Dec 2012  |  Comments (0)

Travel a lot? Keep weird hours? Sleep is a common problem for designers, especially those with tight deadlines and an international client base. Every designer I know has their own secret remedy for managing sleep schedules and jet lag, whether that be diets or types of music or forms of exercise.

Enter the Retimer. A special set of glasses (that can fit over regular glasses), the Retimer beams light into your eyes to help you adjust your body clock. With a simple jet lag calculator, a frequent traveller can develop a simple schedule for wearing the glasses to help him or her adjust swiftly. Other possible uses? Night workers, insomniacs and those suffering from seasonal affective disorder can all stand to benefit.

But if glasses can be effective, why not just turn on the lights? When I travel, I use the lights in my room and work studio to help me adjust quickly. When it's bright out, I use an eye mask to manage my eyes' exposure to light. This is useful because light can creep in through windows and cracks in the door. But darkness? Not as much.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  18 Dec 2012  |  Comments (0)


The worst thing I ever saw on YouTube was a guy accidentally taking his thumb off with a tablesaw. I used to drive an ambulance and I saw some pretty horrific things, but it is that video that still sometimes gives me trouble sleeping.

Now I've finally come across some videos that make up for the aforementioned one. Here's the background: Richard Van As, a woodworker from South Africa, lost his fingers in a woodworking accident.

Instead of giving up hope and resigning himself to never having fingers again, he went in search of someone that might be willing to help him replace them. After finding himself faced with having to come up with $10,000 per finger for commercially available prosthetics—he decided to search for someone that could help make a set of his own.

He found a Washington-State-based propmaker named Ivan Owen, who created a mechanical device Van As could use to manipulate fine items. Here's a video of Richard testing the device:


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 Nov 2012  |  Comments (1)


If you feel ill, there's a few things you can do: Put a hand on your forehead to see if it's hot, try to decide if you just ate a bad piece of codfish, maybe stick a thermometer in your mouth. In our homes that's about it, and the thermometer—which was invented in the 19th century—is probably the most recent consumer product design we have to monitor our own health. And that's absurd, particularly when we're all carrying supercomputers in our pocket for making Facebook updates and the like.

A company called Scanadu aims to rectify this, by providing health-monitoring products that link to your smartphone. The company launched just over a year ago, and just this morning specific descriptions (though not a lot of images) of their three products have been revealed:

Scandu SCOUT Scanadu SCOUT is a small, speedy and affordable device that puts vital health information at your fingertips. Simply hold Scanadu SCOUT to the temple, and in less than ten seconds it will accurately read more than five vital signs. Data collected by the Scanadu SCOUT is uploaded to the Scanadu smartphone app via Bluetooth to show:

- Pulse transit time
- Heart rate (pulse rate)
- Electrical heart activity
- Temperature
- Heart rate variability
- Blood oxygenation (pulse oximetry)

"Scanadu SCOUT lets users explore the diagnostic abilities of a clinic and conveniently puts them in your smartphone for less than $150," said [company founder Walter] de Brouwer. "It's like having a doctor in your pocket."

Project ScanaFlo
Project ScanaFlo is a low-cost tool that uses the smartphone as a urine analysis reader. Designed to be sold over-the-counter as a disposable cartridge, Project ScanaFlo will test for pregnancy complications, preeclampisa, gestational diabetes, kidney failure and urinary tract infections. For pregnant women, Project ScanaFlo will be the first to provide a healthfeed throughout the duration of a pregnancy.

Project ScanaFlu
Project ScanaFlu is a low-cost tool that uses the smartphone as a reader to assess cold-like symptoms quickly, removing the guess work from early diagnosis of upper respiratory infections. By testing saliva, the disposable cartridge will provide early detection for Strep A, Influenza A, Influenza B, Adenovirus and RSV.

Here's what the devices promise:

Looks pretty awesome, no? But we'll have a while yet to wait; Scanadu says all three will be ready by the end of 2013.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   8 Nov 2012  |  Comments (0)


In New York City at least, UPS guys are like firemen: they're always young and in good shape. I wonder if we never see old UPS delivery guys because they get promoted to desk jobs, or because their backs eventually give out from the constant schlepping of heavy packages.

A Fargo, North Dakota-based company called Ergologistics has developed an electric handtruck designed to alleviate all of that bending and hoisting. Despite the lame name (it's called the Lift'n Buddy), it recently won a 2012 Edison Award, taking top prize, Gold, in the Tools category of the Industrial Design entries. Check out what it does in the video below. (Two warnings: 1) Turn your sound down, annoying soundtrack ahead, and 2) you don't have to sit through the whole 4:38, the first 90 seconds will give you the gist.)

The fully made-in-the-U.S.A. device is targeted at warehouses, distribution centers, supermarkets, manufacturing facilities and, of course, deliverypersons. Show the YouTube to your local UPS guy next time he shows up at the office, and he'll be wishing someone would deliver one to his door.

Ergologistics will be featuring the Lift'N Buddy at next month's 18th Annual National Ergonomics Conference and Exposition in Vegas. They also run a blog dedicated to workplace safety that you can check out here.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   3 Oct 2012  |  Comments (6)


Last month's post on "How a Woman with No Arms Dresses Herself" did not get the amount of responses I was hoping for, but I still feel designers can make an important contribution towards easing the challenges that handicapped folk face. Daily activities that you and I never even think about, like getting in and out of a car, are problems for the handicapped that need evolutionary design solutions. And from what I'm seeing, there aren't enough interested designers tackling these problems in user-friendly ways.

Let's look at how people without the use of their legs get in and out of their cars, and bear in mind that they have to get both their bodies and their wheelchairs in and out. First up is Chelsea Zimmerman, who runs a blog called Reflections of a Paralytic. Note the little things, like how far she has to stretch to close the door:


Posted by Ray  |  18 Sep 2012  |  Comments (1)

Here are a pair of inspirational stories of post-injury redemption via Inhabitat: a heartstring-puller about Beauty the bald eagle with a 3D-printed beak, and the story of Sun Jifa, who should probably get an honorary Core77 Design Award for the DIY category for making his own prosthetic arms out of scrap metal.

Beauty-MSNBC.jpgvia MSNBC

The high-tech tale, on the other hand (no pun intended), dates back to 2008, though the backstory begins in 2005, when a bald eagle named Beauty had the top of her beak shot off and was left to die. "The resulting damage from the bullet left Beauty with only a small portion of her left upper beak and nearly eliminated the majority of the right side." The Alaskan rescuers who found her nursed her back to health but it was Jane Fink Cantwell of Birds of Prey NW, an Idaho nonprof, who took up Beauty's cause, connecting with Nate Calvin of Kinetic Engineering Group to create a 3D-printed beak for the disfigured raptor.


Check it out:

The "beauty" puns start within the first ten seconds, and it only goes downhill from there...

I'd hesitate to agree that Nate Calvin is "literally breaking new ground" here—it's a beak, not a building—but the task certainly demanded a bit of innovation and experimentation.


While the above clip glosses the 18-month R&D process behind the beak, an ABC story features footage of the fitting process; considering that the first video actually shows the dentist performing the procedure, I was curious whether they had cast the damaged beak for fit. The second video (below) suggests otherwise, and I imagine that they modeled the cavity based on other specimens as Calvin and his colleagues are shown determining the fit through trial-and-error. If the videos express a general sense of hyperbole with regard to the bionic applications of rapid prototyping—ABC namedrops stereolithographic assembly, "worth $50,000"—bear in mind that this was back in 2008, and it looks like the ABC clip was produced prior to the actual operation.


Posted by Core77 Design Awards  |   2 Sep 2012  |  Comments (0)

Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting award-winning projects and ideas from this year's Core77 Design Awards 2012! For full details on the project, jury commenting and more information about the awards program, go to



The E-Z RISE walker is a medical walker for senior citizens. It addresses the key issues that seniors face when attempting to stand up and get out of their seat. The EZ-RISE walker uses simple ergonomic touch points as well as leverage to provide a safe and effective way for senior citizens to stand.


How did you learn that you had been recognized by the jury?
At the time of the announcement of the "Strategy and Research" winners, I was out of town with no access to the Internet. Upon my return, I immediately logged on to the Core77 Design Awards page and began browsing the different categories, curious to learn a little about each entry. When I reached the strategy and research section, I quickly glanced over all the entries and saw my project amongst the winners. I proceeded to watch Lorraine Justice's video announcement to hear some of the jury's feedback. I felt honored to be recognized along with all the other great student and professional entries.

What's the latest news or development with your project?
Currently, I am seeking out design and engineering professionals in the medical equipment industry for additional feedback. Based on all the positive feedback from my interviewees as well as the Core77 Strategy and Research Jury, I want to finalize the project. I would like to hear from those in the industry about how the walker could be taken from a prototype to an actual product that could be used by senior citizens. From there it would be back to the drawing board to work out the final details and if possible, find a way to get the E-Z Rise Walker to market. 


What is one quick anecdote about your project?
One of the more awkward, but nonetheless enjoyable parts of this project came after my very first meeting with my professor after I had chosen to pursue a walker redesign. She asked me if I had ever used a walker; I responded that I had not. My professor promptly told me to take the rest of my studio time (and the rest of the evening), and start using a walker. So I proceeded to hit the streets of Chicago with my grandpa's old bi-fold walker. Half the people I encountered thought I was crazy; the other half kindly held doors or slowed down as I passed by. As I struggled to navigate stairs, open doors, and use the elevator, I began to get frustrated. When I proceeded to get stuck in a turnstile trying to make my way to the train, I felt ridiculous, but realized that the world is a lot different when you need a walker just to get around. This initial exercise, as awkward as it felt, helped me as the designer put myself in the users shoes. It helped me understand the product and the potential for a redesign. 

What was an "a-ha" moment from this project?
In any design project I work on, I feel that the "a-ha" moment comes when a well thought out idea receives praise and approval from those who either use or work with the product on a daily basis. In my case that began with a few interviews with senior citizens and countless amounts of doodles photos, and post-it notes tacked to the wall of our studio space at UIC. With all that information narrowed down to the early stages of what would eventually become the "E-Z Rise Walker," I met with physical therapists at the Veterans hospital. While talking with one physical therapist about issues surrounding the walker, I pulled out a quick sketch I had made explaining a "walker that assists you in getting out of your seat." What followed was the "a-ha" moment that makes design worth all the hard work; the physical therapist smiled and went into a long discussion of all the issues and injuries surrounding seniors standing up using their walker. She concluded by confirming with her colleagues that this was the right path to head down and that this could be a potential solution. 


Posted by Core77 Design Awards  |   1 Sep 2012  |  Comments (0)

Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting award-winning projects and ideas from this year's Core77 Design Awards 2012! For full details on the project, jury commenting and more information about the awards program, go to



  • Philips Sparq
  • Designer: Philips Design, Philips Design Healthcare team & Modo, Inc.
  • Category: Equipment
  • Award: Professional Notable

The Sparq mobile ultrasound system offers a new ultrasound experience. It allows for the scanning and interpreting of ultrasound images at the point of care as simple as possible. Users with limited experience or training who just need basic functionality and ease of operation can use this system with ease. Immediate clinical decisions can be made faster which gives the doctor more time to focus on the patient.


How did you learn that you had been recognized by the jury?
We saw the announcement live on—late at night!

What's the latest news or development with your project?
New launches of systems like this in Healthcare are all significant, and it is still early days for the mobile Sparq ultrasound. However initial feedback is very positive—the system is being well received in hospitals, particularly with respect to user workflow.


What is one quick anecdote about your project?
We wanted to progress fast with this project and get our idea to market as soon as possible. During the early creative workshops we explored initial concepts in enough depth to realize that the project was even more complex than we had originally thought. This enabled us to focus and tackle the right set of challenges to meet our customer needs.

What was an "a-ha" moment from this project?
Our special moment was actually seeing the user interface coming to life. This is the heart and soul of the Sparq ultrasound. We took the risk and developed a completely new approach from scratch. This involved extensive research and testing, and the commitment of the entire team. And in the end it really paid off.


Posted by core jr  |  23 Aug 2012  |  Comments (0)
"There's no such thing as a dumb user... there are only dumb products"
-Timothy Prestero

A couple years ago, we picked up on the NeoNurture, an infant incubator designed by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based non-profit Design That Matters. Since then, founder and CEO Timothy Prestero encountered several real-world problems—non-medical ones that were obstacles for the production of the equipment—useful lessons for DtM's current project, the Firefly.


In his recent TEDxBoston talk, Prestero relates that the NeoNurture was the equivalent of a concept car in the medical equipment category: it was too beautiful for its own good. He draws on his experience with the NeoNurture to illustrate the difference between designing for inspiration and designing for the real world. The video is well worth 11 minutes of your time:


Posted by Core77 Design Awards  |  19 Aug 2012  |  Comments (3)

Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting award-winning projects and ideas from this year's Core77 Design Awards 2012! For full details on the project, jury commenting and more information about the awards program, go to



  • Fountain of Life
  • Designer: Danwei Ye, Yakun Zhang & Yu Liu
  • Location: Rochester Institute of Technology
  • Category: Equipment
  • Award: Student Runner-Up

Fountain of Life is a water birthing assistant medical device. It is a product based on a more traditional water birthing container like a tub and has several advanced material and medical technology modifications.


How did you learn that you had been recognized by the jury?
We think the most valuable point of our design is to showing the humanity and warmth through a life-related equipment. Through viewing jury's comments, we are glad that they could feel the character even though they aren't the users. As industrial designers, we believe that we should always pay attention to the development of our society and people's lives, trying to find design opportunity which accord with the changes of people's concepts. In that way, we could design something to fill the vacancy of a new type relationship between people and the society.

What's the latest news or development with your project?
Our design process was done by us, with the technical support by our Innovation Center and the financial support by our CIAS department funding. Now, we want to take this design to the next level, which is introducing to more audiences, getting their feedback and making the decision whether it's really necessary to design and even product this equipment from a more marketing and investing point of view. At the same time, we will work with mechanical engineering students via the support of Innovation Center, to figure out the interior structure as well as add more details to the product. That is to say, if we can't persuade someone to spend money on this project, we still can make a better portfolio based on it.


What is one quick anecdote about your project?
As we are designing a product for women, and unfortunately we have no female team member. It became very hard for us to define some gynecology problems. And, as students, our female classmate were not familiar with these problems. As a result, we needed to discover everything by ourselves (and of course we didn't want to ask our parents). Every time when we asked something, people would ask 'Why do you want to know that? You will deliver your child?' It always takes time to clarify our idea, and after that everyone will support us.

What was an "a-ha" moment from this project?
Lots of "a-ha" moments happened in the development process of this project, and the most important one was in the beginning of ideation, one of us said: Is it comfortable to set in a hot tub in that weird position? Then, we actually tried the position by our self in a tub, and it was very hard for us. After that, we merged a chair into the tub, that made it easier to get in and push. A-ha, that is a good solution to combine chair and tub into a new medical delivery equipment. At last, we collect every thing we can create into one design and here it is.


Posted by Core77 Design Awards  |  25 Jul 2012  |  Comments (0)

Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting award-winning projects and ideas from this year's Core77 Design Awards 2012! For full details on the project, jury commenting and more information about the awards program, go to

Charlotte_Lux1.jpg Mammogram Machine used specifically for Stereotactic Breast Biopsies

Stereotactic Breast Biopsy

Designer: Charlotte Lux
Location: South Bend, Indiana, USA
Category: Strategy & Research
Award: Student Winner

With a family history of breast cancer and a recent graduate of The University of Notre Dame's ID program, Charlotte Lux embarked on improving Stereotactic Breast Biopsies. For those without an MD this critical procedure for breast cancer is used to locate a benign or cancerous growth. As beneficial as this procedure is, it often is uncomfortable and stressful for the patient; often requiring patients to lay still for up to 60 minutes during examination. Charlotte Lux took notice of this and sought to improve it through her Core77 Design Award winning design solution.

Getting diagnosed with breast cancer can be a traumatic experience. In this research and design project, ethnographic methods were used to define opportunities for improving the delivery of care in one particularly difficult diagnostic procedure—stereotactic biopsy. These solutions work in harmony to facilitate less traumatic diagnostic experiences, enabling patients to begin the journey through breast cancer with as positive an outlook as possible.

Charlotte_Lux2.pngCharlotte Lux throughly analyzed and observed the entire medical procedure. You can see her presentation here.

How did you learn that you had been recognized by the jury?

I was skimming through articles on Core77 when I saw the announcement of winners. It's such an honor to have my project recognized!

What's the latest news or development with your project?

As a conceptual research and design project, my hope was to add to the current movement aimed at changing the way healthcare practitioners and medical equipment manufacturers approach the delivery of care, using the stereotactic breast biopsy experience as an example. To that end, I've shared this work with a few breast care clinicians and a representative from a medical equipment manufacturer. Bringing these design solutions to fruition would require further product development work.

Charlotte_Lux3.jpg During the examination the patient is often alienated. Lux offers ways to counter this alienation and improve the system overall.

What is one quick anecdote about your project?

To immerse myself in the patient experience, I spent time in a number of hospitals over the course of a year--observing procedures, talking to patients and clinicians. Not having a medical background, I knew seeing the blood and very large needles would take some getting used to. But it was surprising how little that bothered me and how much more difficult it was seeing patients go through something as physically and emotionally trying as this cancer diagnostic procedure. The hardest thing for me was not only watching these women go through this, but the lack of closure I was able to get on each observed case. Patients received their results days after being screened and, not wanting to jeopardize privacy, I never learned of their results. Being left to wonder "whatever happened to that patient?" proved to be more emotionally draining that I had anticipated.

What was an "a-ha" moment from this project?

The biggest a-ha moment for me was the realization of how critical the patient's role is in the biopsy procedure. Describing the process, every nurse, surgeon, and x-ray technologist talks about how important it is for patients to remain still while they isolate what is often a tiny lesion in the breast using x-ray imaging and targeting it with a needle. The patient lies on her stomach, which doesn't sound so bad. But in observing this myself and talking with patients while they lay with one breast compressed between two plates through an opening in the hard table, I began to realize how difficult and important their job really is. Not wanting to complain, many patients tell the nurse they're comfortable when they really aren't. After 30, 40, and sometimes up to 60 minutes of lying completely still, it takes a toll on their ribs, neck, and back, and they fidget, which can cause tissue damage and unnecessary radiation exposure when x-rays need to be retaken. So, it became apparent that patients need to be empowered to communicate and work with clinicians so they are as comfortable as possible. This realization drove design solutions that facilitate patient control over comfort and uninterrupted interaction with clinicians.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   9 May 2012  |  Comments (0)


If you want industrial design glory, you probably dream of pulling the sheets off of your furniture designs at Milan or the ICFF in New York. It's a minority of young designers who are determined to make a difference in the medical design field, who dream of presenting at the Medical Design & Manufacturing Conference in Philly. But each year that latter conference, now in its 30th year, draws thousands of manufacturers, designers, engineers, R&D guys, and materials experts all dedicated to producing devices that extend and repair human health.

In this first video from MD&M, IDEO's Brian Mason and Stacey Chang (Medical Products Lead Designer and Director of Healthcare Practice, respectively) discuss their approach to medical device design and explain how the peculiarities of the field dictate that creativity has to happen in the early stages of the process:

At this year's conference a company called Secant Medical's Vice President of Advanced Technologies, Jeffrey M. Koslosky, will deliver a talk on his company's specialty, Biomedical Textiles in Implantable Medical Devices. "Biomedical textiles can transform medical device engineers' design portfolios to create truly innovative and market-leading devices," says Koslosky. Secant's expertise is highly specialized, as they focus on the development of materials that need to reside within the human body. In the video below, Secant design engineer Amy Woltman shows and discusses some of these materials (starts at 0:53):