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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 yoject?
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):


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  25 Apr 2012  |  Comments (1)


Trauma shears (top photo) are those angled scissors that emergency personnel use to cut through material to extricate someone or expose an injury for treatment. I first saw them during my ambulance days and while I was amazed that they could sever seatbelts with ease, I remember being surprised at how flimsy they were; they had plastic handles and were lighter than I expected. On the design front they had a few elements differentiating them from regular scissors: They were stubby, sharply angled, the interior sides of the blades had little lines cut into them, and there was a kind of flange at the point that would ride flat along someone's skin if you were cutting off a pant leg or similar.

I never once used them in the field—design school and ID ultimately proved a stronger draw than wearing a blue jacket and doing CPR—but apparently, trauma shears suck. "They are imprecise and made of cheap, shoddy materials with a blade that dulls quickly," says New-Mexico-based ER doctor Scott Forman. "People just throw them away."

Years ago Forman set out to design a better pair of trauma shears. With titanium-nitrate coated blades and a carabiner integrated into the handle, Forman's design proved popular with local EMTs, and soon Forman had started a company, applied for a patent and cranked out over 1,000 pairs.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  12 Apr 2012  |  Comments (12)


This is a truly heartwarming example of some unintended side effects of product design, and this is your must-see video of the week. In 2001, Apple designed an easy-to-use music player called the iPod. In 2007, the famed author and neurologist Oliver Sacks wrote Musicophilia, a book exploring the effects of music on the human brain. And on April 18th of this year, filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett is releasing Alive Inside, his documentary looking at what happens when you bring iPod Shuffles into a nursing home.

This is no frothy Six Flags commercial nor an advertisement for Apple. This is about how elderly people suffering from dementia, individuals who seem locked out of their own brains, can be contacted and connected with by playing back the music of their youth. We'll say no more. Please watch.

Posted by core jr  |  12 Apr 2012  |  Comments (2)

02Toolbelt.jpgA modular toolbelt cut down on the Nurses need to practice hand hygiene by making her tools more accessible but it nevertheless made her movement more restricted. Images and Article by Rachel Lehrer

Previously: Moving through Hospitals: Designing Handwashing

The best part of any design process is seeing your ideas touch the real world. Prototypes bring queries and hypothesis to life. They show things that in retrospect seem obvious but in prospect are entirely unexpected. After 7 months spent researching hand hygiene compliance in a hospital, I was finally able to walk through the rotating doors and unveil a design under the expectant gaze of the nurse who was going to experience it all day.

My past life as a dancer has made my design process movement-driven. In health care, this translates to a focus on understanding the physical roadblocks to peak performance. I'm a physical therapist for environments; our bodies are our inescapable collaborators. Through enactments, observing the subtle nuances of movement and through physically knowing the process of "hardwiring" movement rituals, I've been able to look at physical behaviors and spatial intention from the strategic vantage point of the body.

In my previous article on hand hygiene, I established a series of movement lenses for increasing hand hygiene compliance in a hospital—movement scripts, muscle memory, environmental ergonomics. Now the resulting hypotheses have been tested. Each intervention utilizes my movement driven perspective but also challenges the institutional reliance on quantitative proof and bottom-line driven decisions that make experimenting and designing in a hospital almost ironic. In a place that relies on proven discrete solutions, the messiness, questioning and experimentation of a design process must win its right to be there. It's an understatement to say that a design practice—always questioning the real culprit, always probing, always wondering if there might be a better way—makes the hospital status quo nervous.


You can't change someone's behavior before you understand it and so I began my research phase by observing the nurses, whose behavior I hoped to change, and the Infection Prevention and Control staff, who wanted me to change the behavior. At a well-attended meeting with leaders from multiple departments, I presented a provocation. I wanted those who control the dialogue and data around hand hygiene to feel what consistent hand hygiene compliance was like.

For 4 hours on a cold day, the Infection Prevention and Control staff practiced hand hygiene every 6 minutes and hated every second of it. Nurses, though, have to practice hand hygiene, on average, every 6 minutes for their entire 12 hour shifts. I was looking to increase empathy, to get the rule makers to understand what following the rules feels like. The value of this type of intervention is not in increasing compliance numbers or in spurring the drafting of a new mission statement but in re-inscribing the problem on the stressed bodies of those that oversee compliance. In a bottom line driven atmosphere, it is important to remind those at desks that hundreds of unique human factors are involved in increasing compliance. It is a complex problem that can't be resolved by adding more signs that simply restate the goal in bigger type. Before the hospital gets clean hands, it must get its own dirty (and dry and itchy) too.


Posted by core jr  |   5 Apr 2012  |  Comments (1)


It's a bird. It's a plane. It's a semiconductor sequencer. It took nearly 13 years to sequence the first human genome and it cost nearly $3 billion, but today, thanks to Life Technologies and RKS, the Ion Proton™ Sequencer can deliver an entire human genome sequence in a single day for $1000.

The implications of the affordability and speed of this type of technology are manifold but Life Technologies anticipates the applications to be far-reaching: "As DNA sequencing deciphers human, animal, and plant genomes, [the Ion Proton™ Sequencer] promises to deliver personalized medical diagnoses, improved agricultural crop yields and new sources of energy." Moreover, RKS' work on the design and delivery of the system created a simple and compact form that houses complex technologies without compromising ease of use.


In addition to delivering a world-class aesthetic and user experience, the Ion Proton™ Sequencer is a scalable, simple and fast scientific instrument. The compact housing of the instrument provides optimal ventilation. Sequencing reagents are easily accessed through doors, and the process is initiated and monitored through a touch screen interface. LED indicators provide at-a-glance confirmation of operational status, and instruments can be rack-mounted, both increasing efficiency and maximizing use of space. The front panel is highly chemical and scratch resistant, and body textures and finishes were selected to utilize materials that are expected to become recyclable.

Outshining the media accolades garnered when the Ion Proton™ Sequencer debuted at this year's CES, "The Coolest Thing I Saw at CES 2012," from PCMag and a "landmark development from the Financial Times, it was recently announced that the Ion Proton™ Sequencer received a red dot award for product design (life science category). Congratulations to RKS and Life Technologies and we look forward to seeing what innovations might develop from this technology.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  28 Mar 2012  |  Comments (7)


The central design flaw of a wheelchair becomes apparent during egress and ingress: A user that can only support themselves using their arms must insert themselves into the chair backwards. If you think about it this makes very little sense, and from a design standpoint it's a clear example of a user having to suit themselves to the object as opposed to the other way around.

The TEK Robotic Mobilization Device, in contrast, is designed for paraplegics to "enter" from a more natural, frontal position. After first seeing the device I thought it too robotic-looking, but after seeing the video I'm convinced of its design improvements over a wheelchair:


Posted by core jr  |   6 Mar 2012  |  Comments (3)

Handwashing_closeup.JPGImages and Article by Rachel Lehrer

In October, 2008, Medicare—the United States' government program that pays 40% of the nation's hospital bills—decided to stop covering hospital failures. This meant that a litany of preventable mistakes, including treatments resulting from surgical errors, patient accidents and infections, were now the financial responsibility of the hospital. As a result, medical accidents went from being a source of hospital revenue to a massive financial drain. The good news is that medical institutions were finally forced into the business of disease prevention, at least once people were in their care.

What can be done to prevent costly medical mistakes? The hospital reform with the greatest potential is also the easiest to implement, at least in theory. According to the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths statistics, hospital acquired infections kill more people in America than AIDS, breast cancer and auto accidents combined. Furthermore, the vast majority of the patients that acquire such infections in hospitals—and more than 5 percent of patients do—get them from the hands of health care providers. Thankfully, hospitals have become increasingly concerned with hand hygiene. The dirty hands of doctors and nurses aren't just gross—they are an extremely expensive and potentially fatal act of carelessness. Hospital staffers, in order to follow protocol, need to wash their hands hundreds of times a day. Their failure to follow protocol perfectly is their personal responsibility but non-compliance on such a broad scale is also a failure of the medical system that creates the rules and environment that lead non-compliance.

The medical industry's acknowledgment of hand hygiene as a systemic problem has led to the establishment and growing influence of Infection Control and Prevention Units. For Infection Control and Prevention, solving handwashing takes the form of cheeky posters of doctors reminding everyone to wash their hands, developing inane training videos demonstrating how to properly wash your hands and implementing incentive programs where health care workers reward each other with certificates when they observe a co-workers consistent compliance. In the hospital where I have focused my research, these certificates were returned unused.

One increasingly popular but misguided program has to been to implement paternalistic monitoring of nurses and other providers, who are forced to undergo increasing levels of surveillance. Whether it is video monitoring systems borrowed from meat manufacturing plants or sensor systems that read the alcohol content on hands, staff are cajoled into changing their behavior by receiving real time feedback combined with their fear that their personal compliance level is now public knowledge. There is no carrot—there is only a stick.


Despite growing desperation, few designers have bothered to do much of anything that might make washing or sanitizing hands more appealing. A recent scientific study pointed to "perceived busyness" as one of the primary deterrents to compliance. But this only demonstrates the silliness of current reforms. After all, if followed literally, the prescribed protocol for hand cleaning would require so much of the health care workers time that they wouldn't actually be able to perform the rest of their job. During a recent observation, nurses were consistently walking from supply closets to narcotic storage bins to patients rooms with their hands full. How, then, can they follow protocol and wash their hands correctly when they enter the room? Are monitoring systems supposed to solve these problems? Or are we merely putting increased strain on an already stressed population without offering any design solutions?


Posted by Valerie Casey  |  29 Feb 2012  |  Comments (0)

The overall cost of healthcare in the U.S. has reached a whopping $2.6 trillion, up from $256 billion in 1980, and $724 billion in 1990. In many ways, it seems that the rate of innovation in healthcare is moving in inverse proportion, with fewer truly significant interventions being created to tackle our collective health issues. While the quantified self movement has people talking (and measuring) all things health, and cool new products like the Jawbone UP are mainstreaming consumer wellness products, health innovation has remained somewhat niche. However, there has been a recent shift in the players in this space that bodes well for all of our health, despite the fact that these entities have sometimes been seen as our least likely allies.

In the health industry, we've always been inspired by the inquiring minds of designers. For years, big food has been singing a continuous refrain about healthier snacks (is less bad good enough?), and even Walmart is trying to help you make better decisions about health. But now most interesting (and perhaps most promising), government is placing bets on entrepreneurship and data (a great techy complement to Michele Obama's Let's Move campaign). The Department of Health and Human Services has issued a call to harness new thinking to deliver better care and better health at lower cost. At the recent Care Innovations Summit in Washington DC, the federal government appeared side-by-side with huge pharma companies and healthcare organizations to drive a new kind of innovation challenge.

These challenges are focused on tackling some of the most pressing health concerns in the US, but they are simultaneously supporting radical entrepreneurship. Each of the innovation challenges below are slightly different in their process (some have demo days and mentorships in addition to prize monies), but they are all unique in that they reward great ideas with cash while not taking any equity stake from the entrepreneur (quite a contrast to the VC and incubator model). It's free money and support, and may just get really great concepts in the hands of people who need them. Keep an eye on the following challenges, or better yet, submit your ideas:

Pfizer and Janssen Alzheimer's Challenge: Create concepts for early diagnosis and monitoring for people with Alzheimer's
Deadline: March 16

Sanofi Data Design Diabetes Innovation Challenge: Improve health and experience for people with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes
Deadline: March 23

Janssen (part of Johnson & Johnson) Connected Care Challenge: Ease patient transition from hospital to home
Deadline: March 25

Allscripts Million Hearts Initiative CDS Challenge: Improve the clinical decision support functionality for people with cardiovascular disease
Deadline: July 6

It's never been a better time to be a designer because healthcare innovation is going to depend on real human-centered design and non-traditional problem-solving. $100K of unrestricted cash ain't so bad either....

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  24 Jan 2012  |  Comments (3)


Nike's latest piece of wearable technology is the FuelBand, which resembles a futuristic, minimalist watch. The device contains an accelerometer that tracks your motion and calculates calories burned. Sound boring? It could have been—but like Apple, Nike has designed the product to be part of an ecosystem in order to ensure the sum exceeds the parts, and to provide the user with a new, novel experience.

In this case the ecosystem consists of the FuelBand and your smartphone or your laptop. Through either of the latter two devices, you program in your daily targets for the energy you'd like to expend.



Posted by Ray  |  10 Jan 2012  |  Comments (2)


Hannes Harms is set to complete his MA/MSC at the prestigious Royal College of Art this year, and his graduation project is a worthy complement to Ergonomidesign's "miniMe," which we saw yesterday. Harms's ultrasound concept is a perfect example of a 'specialized device' within a future health ecosystem:

"Sono" is a concept of a mobile and wireless sonography-system, which does not just enable an uncommitted handling of the probe but also enables an unlimited connectivity to installed screens in modern hospitals... the "Sono"-probe becomes a wireless daily diagnosis device and perfectly fits into the doctors' pocket. It is to be seen as the modern stethoscope, since vital functions and heart-beats are precisely to be monitored with modern ultrasound as well.

This way, the doctor doesn't just get an auditive feedback on the patients heartrate, but can directly see a visualization next to the ultrasound image.

The ergonomic handle of the screen device enables the doctor to carry the optional display unit with him or to place it at the patients bed table. Therefor he can use the foldable stand on the backside.



As with Harms' previously-seen "NutriSmart" food concept, he's looking years, if not decades, into the future. Still, the renderings and video are convincing enough to ground the works in the present: hardware and cost aside, the "Sono" simply integrates existing diagnostic technology into a single device.

During the last 5 years, medical ultrasound technology took giant steps forward. If a patient gets into the hospital, seconds can decide about his health and his future sickness. This is why the demand for mobile diagnosis devices is getting bigger and bigger. In times of miniaturization of diagnosis devices, the quality of modern ultrasound-systems has increased enormously throughout the last years. Autarkic sound-circles and new bandwidths are going to enable probes to be run wireless.


It's an interesting concept for sure, but if Harms has difficulty finding ID work, we're sure he can find voiceover gigs:


Posted by core jr  |   9 Jan 2012  |  Comments (5)


After over 40 years of pioneering work in the Life Science industry, a multidisciplinary design team at Ergonomidesign put together their take on the future for the Health Care industry. Their challenge was to envision the future and develop possible solutions for the world to test, use and reflect on. The outcome has generated many discussions, both in the Design and Life Science industries as well as with politicians and policymakers in the European Union.

This article describes how Ergonomidesign developed a vision of the future for Life Sciences and how this served as a guide as their designers prototyped how we might manage our own health and interact with doctors, family and other medical professionals and services in the year 2015.

An Integrated Future of Health Care in the Year 2015

In 2009 Ergonomidesign's strategists and futuring experts set out to analyze macro, life science, social and technology trends set ten to twenty years out. We knew that health care was changing and that we could be a part of shaping the future. We also knew that people were seamlessly integrating technologies into their day-to-day activities, social lives and health care management. What we needed was a clear vision about how different the future should or could be.

Trends suggested that by the year 2015, desktop computers as we know them today, will be relics of the past. Rapid advances in screen technology and the diminishing size of microprocessors will make it possible to invent new archetypes for the computer, coupled with new gestural and semantic languages. In an age of ubiquitous computing, our walls, tables and other elements in our environment will become platforms for us to interact on. It will involve access to information, and exchange and generation of data. Most importantly, these interactions will involve people connecting with people in the most serendipitous ways, through a system that is constantly aware and always connected, if desired.

Our research suggested that as we move towards the future of health care, people will increasingly need to feel involved and in control of their own health. People will also need tools to help them collaborate closely with health care providers, doctors and other people they trust to help them manage their health.

1-eco_system-468px.jpgOur strategic work resulted in an eco-system that described the Integrated Future of Health Care in the year 2015 with the patient at the center of all activities, services, devices and products.

Our strategic work resulted in an eco-system that described the Integrated Future of Health Care in the year 2015 with the patient at the center of all activities, services, devices and products.

Bringing the Vision to Life

The vision needed to be grounded in the experiences of real patients. We introduced two characters that were assigned lifestyles and diseases as we tried to highlight potential real life scenarios. Throughout the entire design process, we leveraged the real world needs as we developed a service solution that would be as seamless, natural and effective as possible.

2-User-Profiles-468px.jpgThe two characters Hanna and Bernhard.

To tangibly visualize our characters and a glimpse of the future, the team developed the eco-system described in the Integrated Future of Health Care into an application for the Microsoft Surface platform (Surface application). This technology was chosen for its unique ability to invite people into interactions and conversations around the display. Representing a future smart surface, it also provided our team with the opportunity to explore natural user interfaces (NUI) and at the same time challenged the team to design for a full 360-degree interaction and multi-input, multi-user collaboration.

3-early-sketches-surface-app-468px.jpgAn early sketch of the application for Microsoft Surface.

Our aim was to illustrate the body as a container of biometric data. The simple act of placing your hand on 'a table' or any other type of smart surface, triggered an enlightened experience, e.g. you will be able to share and compare your biometric data with people you trust, subscribe to personalized treatment software and also have easy and constant access to your health care professionals.


Posted by Ray  |   9 Dec 2011  |  Comments (2)

Rapid-prototyping company Proto Labs recently announced the third award-winner in their ongoing "Cool Idea!" program, an open call for designers and entrepreneurs to enter their projects for a chance to win up to $100,000 worth of Firstcut CNC-machined and/or Protomold injection molded parts: Whirlwind Wheelchair's RoughRider.


Whirlwind Wheelchair International is a San Francisco-based non-profit organization that it is "dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities in the developing world while also promoting sustainable local economic development in the process," with a specific focus on providing high-quality wheelchairs to those who need them.


Their flagship product, the RoughRider, is a durable, low-cost, all-purpose wheelchair, which has found an enthusiastic audience of over 25,000 riders in over 40 countries. Now, after over three decades of improving the lives of the less fortunate, they are making the assistive device available in the United States.

In preparation for the release to a mainstream U.S. audience, the RoughRider underwent a redesign with the addition of lightweight side panels to make it better looking and customizable, something U.S. customers will love. As a Cool Idea! Award recipient, Proto Labs provided Whirlwind Wheelchair International with the key side panels needed for an initial U.S. launch.


Existing features of the RoughRider, which was developed for use on "muddy village paths [and] rough pot-holed urban streets" alike, include a long wheelbase for stability, heavy-duty casters in front and mountain bike wheels in back, and five-position rear axle.


Perhaps most importantly, the tires, tubes, hardware and bearings are readily available in nearly every corner of the world—"in bicycle shops, motorcycle shops, and hardware stores wherever you go."


Whirlwind Wheelchair International founder Ralf Hotchkiss believes that it is high time for American riders to have a more rugged option for a wheelchair: "Scores of wheelchair riders in the U.S. have inquired about purchasing the RoughRider specifically for off-pavement adventures that are difficult with U.S. style wheelchairs. Entering the U.S. market at this time will provide Whirlwind with a wealth of critical feedback from well-informed consumers, and may raise enough funds to do much-needed development of the innovations coming in from riders in developing countries. Besides, some U.S. riders who have ridden the Rough Rider had so much fun that they would love to get one for themselves. We will do whatever is necessary to make this happen."

See it in action after the jump:


Posted by Dave Seliger  |  22 Nov 2011  |  Comments (1)


We were lucky to get a tour of the Patient Safety Training Center in the basement of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in Lebanon, NH. Although the name sounds rather banal, the Center actually operates like a "hospital within a hospital" used for medical simulations. The purpose of the facility is to train any hospital employee who might come in contact with a patient during their stay, whether it's a doctor, a security guard or even a janitor.



Since opening three years ago, the Center has seen between 5,000 to 10,000 educators and trainees pass through each year. The main hallway is lined with a nurses' station and an assortment of rooms, including an ICU, clinic rooms, a neo-natal room and an Emergency Department which can be reconfigured into an operating room. Likewise, each of the various rooms takes on a variety of roles depending on the simulation's needs, akin to a television set. A room used for clinic rotations for Dartmouth Medical School students in the morning might be transformed into, say, a living room for training nurses in home care in the afternoon.

icu_dhart 2.jpg

The Patient Safety Training Center has also taken their simulations outside the fake hospital hallway. For the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Advanced Response Team (DHART), the hospital's medical transport helicopter crew, the Center put together a simulation of more theatrical proportions. In order to recreate a fire in the patient compartment of the DHART helicopter, the Center's staff put a helicopter on a moving lift inside the DHART hanger and added in dry ice, recorded sounds, and a strobe light to simulate the spinning rotors. While helicopter fire training sessions may be few and far between, the staff at the Patient Safety Training Center "like to think we can do anything down here."


Posted by Ray  |  14 Oct 2011  |  Comments (6)

Editor's note: Updated on Wednesday, October 19


About a month ago, we had the pleasure of meeting Brooklyn-based designer, artist and health educator Sara Krugman at Maker Faire, where she eagerly told us about "Gio," the One-Handed Blood Glucose Meter. The project, a collaboration with fellow designer and artist Eric Forman, made it to the semi-finals of the Diabetes Mine 2011 Design Challenge.

The Gio is a small, sleek one-handed blood glucose (BG) meter designed to make testing fast and instinctive. It combines existing technologies (meter, lancet device, and lancet/strip drum) in a sleek and portable form that can be used at work, on the street, while exercising, even while walking fast to a late appointment. Displaying BG results only, the Gio offers a radically simple and clean user experience.



The device itself is intuitive and ergonomic, neither over- nor under-designed, and duly unassuming. The "Gio" is so discreet, in fact, that it might be mistaken for something else—an office accessory, candy dispenser or even a toy—such that a user would still be wise to keep it somewhere safe.

- On-the-go usability: needs just one hand and no surface
- Fast: 7 second total test time vs. ˜70 seconds with current meters
- Less pain: lancet drum automatically changes lancets
- Compatible with all application and other devices via bluetooth and mini-USB
- Self-contained and durable: no external case needed
- Dual-sided screen for fast testing with either hand
- Clear viewing lens keeps port clean while allowing visibility
- Lancing depth adjustment via intuitive finger pressure
- Fits in your pocket



Posted by Sara Jacobson  |  21 Sep 2011  |  Comments (0)


The Mayo Transform Symposium was inspiring, yes. People from design, healthcare and corporations all came together and talked about what is going on in healthcare, and how we can work to change it. As mentioned in the first post on the conference, the complexity of changing that system is daunting, but several groups and individuals are tackling it in their own ways.

John Thackara further emphasized the theme of breaking out of a static hospitals-as-institutions structure, attacking the Mayo directly for the giant physical energy-depleting structures it embodies. He pointed out that 95% of healthcare happens outside the medical system—between caregivers and families (just as most of life happens outside the medical system.) Thackara argued that we need to see health and well-being as properties of a social-ecological context. His key point was that healthcare should not be about intervening in peoples' lives when needed, but rather being in them at all times, which then subverts any need for interference.

Architect Michael Murphy, co-founder of MASS Design Group, presented a perfect example of healthcare becoming part of the community in which it works with a project on a hospital he worked on in Rwanda. The Butaro Hospital was built in a beautiful, mountainous region where 400,000 people were underserved by 0 doctors. One of the biggest concerns in designing the hospital was to combat Extremely Drug Resistant Tuberculosis, which is contracted via the air, when two strains of TB mix. In the design of a standard hospital ward in Rwanda, hallways provided an ideal mixing place for this deadly strain of TB.

To minimize air mixing, Murphy and his team designed the hospital itself as a preventative mechanism for TB. They created the hospital with several separate buildings, essentially removing all hallways from the basic architecture. Additionally, they used simple architectural methods to increase ventilation, with fans, UVGI lights in the ceiling to clean air, and high windows to move air in and out. Additional considerations were made toward patient experience, by designing rooms with patient beds pointed at windows rather than other sick patients.

Mayo Clinic's Center for Innovation


Just as Murphy's Butaro Hospital is an example of Thackara's notion of healthcare being in communities at all time, so is the Center of Innovation itself. What may have been most inspiring about the whole conference is the work they are doing at CFI, their existence and the fact that they hold the Transform Symposium each year. Lorna Ross, Creative Lead and Manager of the CFI and her team are working on that exact principle of being in the community that they are working to change—in one of the most advanced medical facilities in the world.



Posted by Sara Jacobson  |  13 Sep 2011  |  Comments (0)

The complexity of the healthcare system is hard to wrap your head around. Even (maybe especially) after a long day of conversing on and listening to ideas on the topic. The Mayo Transform2011 Symposium seeks to both open up and tear down this complexity, with its varied roster of passionate people working in a tough arena where the past, present and future in healthcare converge.

And hospitals are (or should be) a thing of the past in healthcare. At least, hospitals as we think of them: giant institutional campuses where we go when we are sick. (That this came up repeatedly today at the Mayo Clinic, one of the most renowned of these institutions, is indicative of the terrific work being done there.)

As many of the speakers noted today, the key to future healthcare is in designing for the patient, from a holistic perspective, rather than merely at the touchpoint of the hospital. The most insightful and exciting ideas expressed at Transform were with those finding the opportunities to break away from the institution of the traditional hospital.

The concept was exemplified in the breakout session, "Unlocking the Power of Sharing Data," in which the speakers emphasized the necessity and eventuality of every individual's health records being in a shared system for managing their health. This concept immediately seems scary—health data is private, and very personal. To share it, or have it sitting on some server somewhere, feels exposed.


Posted by Sara Jacobson  |  24 Aug 2011  |  Comments (1)

3DSound.jpg3D3A's Anechoic Chamber

Have an awesome, show-off worthy, surround-sound stereo system at home? Apparently, no matter how high-fallutin' that sound gets, you aren't hearing it in 3D. "Pure Stereo 3D Audio" to be exact. Whereas surround-sound systems literally, well, "surround" you with audio, 3D sound plays the audio correctly spatially—so that what is on your left is actually heard on the left, and same with the right. Edgar Choueiri, rocket scientist by day, audio engineer by night developed Pure Stereo 3D Audio, recently unveiled by Kurt Andersen of NPR's Studio 360.

Choueiri is Director of Princeton's Electric Propulsion and Plasma Dynamics Lab, and thanks to his audiophile obsession and a grant from Princeton, also their 3D Audio and Applied Acoustics Lab. The phenomenon is best explained in the Studio 360 story and the 3D3A site, but as we understand it, Choueiri developed a digital filter applied to the audio signal, which eliminates "crosstalk," freeing up rich sound already on the recording. Crosstalk is the interference that naturally occurs in stereo when the right ear hears interference sound from the left, and vice versa. Prior to Choueiri's breakthrough, crosstalk cancellation had been attempted, but always produced problems in the tone of what we hear.

Studio 360 has some samples of water splashing for listening, embedded below, and some music samples in the story. There really is something noticeably different and rich in the sounds. To listen, sit equidistant between your left and right speakers.


Posted by LinYee Yuan  |   3 Aug 2011  |  Comments (2)


Today, the BMW Guggenheim Lab launched their 6-year global tour; first stop: New York City's East Village. Part think tank, part exhibition space, part public forum, the LAB explores challenges facing today's cities and bustling urban populations through a carefully curated program of events. Over the next 2.5 weeks, five LAB Team members grapple with the theme of "Confronting Comfort" through over 100 free public programs—workshops, speakers, exhibitions and screenings. Kicking off the series, tonight the LAB hosts a screening of the documentary Blank City, which chronicles avant-garde filmmaking and renegade movements of New York City in the '70s and '80s.

The five LAB members are a mix of global thinkers and local activists—Omar Freilla (Founder of Green Worker Cooperatives, Bronx), Charles Montgomery (Journalist and Urban Experimentalist), Olatunbosun Obayomi (Microbiologist and Inventor) and Studio ZUS (Architects and Urabnist). A true public experiment, the theme of "Confronting Comfort" hopes to explore how urban environments can be made more responsive to peoples' needs, how a balance can be found between modern notions of individual versus collective comfort and how the urgent need for environmental and social responsibility can be met. Speakers include Elizabeth Diller, Sakia Sasson, David Simon, Juliet Schor, Interboro Partners, Assaf Biderman and Jake Barton.

11_SiteBeforeConstruction.jpgBMW Guggenheim LAB New York City site before construction

Nestled between two buildings, the LAB is housed in a mobile structure by Tokyo-based Atelier Bow-Wow. The architecture serves as a sort of public theater for staging programming. With a loggia serving as architectural inspiration, the bi-level, open-air space is structured like a traditional theater with a fly system of rigs suspending a "toolbox"—for changing over the space from program to program—in the upper level to create a multi-functional and flexible open-loft floorplan.



Posted by core jr  |  27 Jul 2011  |  Comments (0)

As a special thank you, Core77 readers can receive a discount to this year's symposium.
Register today by selecting "Group Fee." Under: "How did you hear about Transform?" check "OTHER" and note Core77.

Core77 is proud to be a Media Sponsor for this year's Transform2011 symposium, hosted by the Mayo Clinic's Center for Innovation in Rochester, Minnesota. A groundbreaking multidisciplinary gathering, Transform2011 will focus on the challenges of the health care delivery system through the lens of design—disruptive ideas, innovation, social media, games, technology development, advocacy, environments and shifting populations. The focus of the annual symposium is to encourage partnership, participation and engagement from professionals across disciplines with a common goal to affect change in the healthcare delivery system.

This year, Transform has invited a powerhouse of design thinkers and business leaders to participate in the symposium including William Drenttel (DesignObserver), John Thackara (Doors of Perception), Mariana Amatullo (Designmatters), Chris Hacker (Johnson & Johnson), James Hackett (Steelcase) and our own Allan Chochinov, just to name a few. We recently told you about a unique opportunity to be part of the conversation through the iSpot challenge and gave you a look into the Mayo Clinic CFI's design process. Today we're digging in a little deeper to learn more about the potential of design to transform our current healthcare delivery system.

Transform2011: Designing Solutions. Inspiring Health.
September 11-13
Rochester, Minnesota

Core77 had an opportunity to speak with two of this year's speakers: Doug Powell (AIGA and HealthSimple) and Maggie Breslin (Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation). Read on to hear more about their perspective on this year's conference.

When Doug Powell's daughter Maya was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, he and his wife Lisa Schwartz Powell embarked on a project to create a well-designed tool to help demystify and manage the disease. The result was Type1Tools, a kid-friendly, intuitive educational product with an emphasis on colorful graphics and simplified information. In 2005, the Powells created HealthSimple to bring their approach to a broader audience. As a designer who has worked to bridge the gap between design and the healthcare industry, Powell has a unique perspective on the ways that design can help shape the future of the healthcare industry. Powell explains the urgency and importance of bringing designers and healthcare professionals to the same table:

We need to illuminate to the embedded leaders in the healthcare community what the real opportunity is and the breadth of that opportunity. In certain pockets, design is being implemented and utilized really pretty effectively. For example, the Mayo Center for Innovation is really a leader in this space—in patient room design they look at what that environment is like and what opportunity is there to create an experience for the patient that has a potentially positive effect on their health. That's revelatory; that's really a huge, huge step. But, at the same time there's lots of open opportunity for designers to effectively make our case. Thus far, we've done an okay job of that but we need to continually do better to refine our story, keep finding new ways to connect with that audience and introduce new examples of effective design in the healthcare space.


Maggie Breslin, Senior Designer/Researcher at the Center for Innovation, pioneered the role at the Mayo Clinic in 2005. The organization was one of the first groups to embrace design as an inroad to healthcare solutions, bringing designers in-house in the mid-aughts. With a background in communication and media, Breslin brings a unique perspective to not only her role at the Center for Innovation, but also as a a designer. We spoke with Breslin about the importance of storytelling and the role of design in working to bring about new solutions for the healthcare delivery system.

Core77: Can you kind of tell us a little bit about just the importance of storytelling in your work, both as a designer and the Mayo Clinic?

Maggie Breslin: One of the sort of mini founding principles of the Center for Innovation is this real commitment to the idea that you can be multi-disciplinary and that any kind of solution to our healthcare delivery problem is going to come by bringing people together who haven't normally been at the table to think about the problem and to think about solutions and to really engage each other in the way of advancing ideas.