November 27, 2018

Human-Centered Design – A Value Proposition for Medical Technology

By Tracy Manning, DDSTUDIO Chief Strategy Officer

From “zero to commercial” in two years—a savings of at least $5 million and three-to-four years research and development—that is the return on investment BioFluidica CEO Rolf Muller, Ph.D., attributes to human-centered design.

Muller, a successful veteran of the biotechnology industry, engaged with DDSTUDIO and its human-centered design process when starting development of BioFluidica’s liquid biopsy device because experience taught him that engineering a product that functions isn’t enough to fuel success. Medical technology also needs to satisfy the wants and needs of its users in a way that stokes their desire for it.

Empathy for the end-user in their unique and complicated environment is the cornerstone of human-centered design. What does that look and feel like in the context of medical technology’s bottom-line? Muller summed it up nicely when he joined me, IntelliGuard CEO Gordon Krass, and TruMed Systems CTO Joe Milkovits, on a panel about the topic at Biocom’s Device Fest:

“Your technology may do incredible things, but if the user doesn’t use it, the technology doesn’t matter.”

The experts at Ernst and Young agree. The firm’s 2018 Pulse of the Industry report states that to succeed despite the pressures of reimbursement, rapidly evolving technologies and super-consumers, “companies must evolve their focus from product-centric to the consumer experience.”

De-mystifying Human-Centered Design

I proposed the Device Fest panel as a forum for medical device executives to share their experiences with human-centered design and explain the value they’ve found in it. The executives also addressed the misperception that human-centered design is a fuzzy concept. Far too often companies with cutting-edge technology focus on engineering a product that could be the best solution, but neglect the user’s daily rituals and emotions.

Good design isn’t just about making a product aesthetically pleasing. As DDSTUDIO CEO Charles Curbbun tells clients: “When human-centered design is done right, the product starts to disappear and the experience takes over, allowing users to get into the flow.”

Human-centered design uses five key elements to uncover the right product solution for the consumer.

  • Empathy for the consumer/user through extensive, ongoing research.
  • Cross-functional teams that align to leverage expertise and solve the right problem.
  • Multiple iterative cycles of mock-ups and rapid prototyping so the wrong ideas fail early.
  • Creativity that includes brainstorming to see problems from new angles.
  • Risk management with each iteration.

Human-Centered Design in Action

Our Biocom colleagues at Illumina, Hologic and Synthetic Genomics offer many examples of human-centered design empowering product development. Human-centered design is equally beneficial for smaller companies, said those who spoke at Device Fest.

Muller said that in a scheduled brainstorming session, BioFluidica’s team proposed ditching plans to create their own processing system for its proprietary chips that hold the patient sample. Alternatively, they could use an already FDA-approved system from Hamilton Robotics. That out-of-the-box idea worked, resulting in the massive savings in time and money.

TruMed Systems incorporated human-centered design into its first generation AccuVax Vaccine Management System, a refrigerator/freezer storage and inventory system for handling vaccines in the doctor’s office.  It has since gathered valuable data to incorporate in its second-generation product, Milkovits said. Visiting offices where AccuVax would be used was invaluable, he said.

“We learned the important difference between a 28-inch-wide machine that fits through doors and into cubicles, versus a 36-inch device that doesn’t do either,” he said. That knowledge influenced many subsequent decisions, he added. Prototypes of multiple iterations allowed nurses to provide insightful analytics. We also learned increased height would enhance capacity, while internal changes would make the machine easier to build and more reliable, he said.

IntelliGuard’s Linked Visibility Inventory System, which uses RFID technology to track and inventory drugs used in surgery, had its cross-functional product development team build empathy for hospital pharmacists and anesthesiologists through extensive research, Krass explained. Team members shadowed anesthesiologists at work, including a software engineer who spent the day in the OR, he said. One gets a real sense of how there is no room for error when you see the patient there on the operating table, he said.

This immersive research also allowed the team to learn early about the complicated legal and regulatory issues for handling drugs in the environment, which informed later decisions.

“The learning that occurred through this process is significantly better than what we could have ever done on our own,” Krass said. “You have to get into an environment and see people using the product to understand how to mitigate risk.”

https://issuu.com/biocom0/docs/lifelinesfall2018_final

June 15, 2018

A record win for DDSTUDIO with three Medical Design Excellence Awards at MD&M East

DDSTUDIO, whose human-centered design work focuses on the end user in context, congratulated clients InfoBionic®, Hologic® and IntelliGuard® for each winning a Medical Design Excellence Award (MDEA) Tuesday, 6/12/2018, at the Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) East conference in New York City. The awards recognize design and engineering that improves the quality of health care delivery and accessibility.

Only once before has a design firm had three client products named as finalists in one year for the prestigious award.

“All three of these very different devices were designed to fit seamlessly into the user’s life or workflow, which is the essence of DDSTUDIO’s human-centered design process,” said Charles Curbbun, DDSTUDIO’s chief executive. “Each device delivers cutting-edge technology that is transformative in its own category.”

  • InfoBionic’s MoMe® Kardia System, a wearable, ambulatory cardiac monitoring system designed for users with transient symptoms of arrhythmia, won a gold award in the Cardiovascular Device category. Its sleek, unobtrusive design allows it to be worn comfortably and correctly all day, without interrupting the user’s routine or activities. It provides reliable, detailed data that doctors can access when they want, allowing for real- time diagnosis. In January, the market-shifting MoMe® won a Good Design.

  • Hologic’s Panther Fusion® won a bronze award in the Testing and Diagnostic Products and Systems category. The modular, field upgrade to Hologic’s fully automated Panther system combines PCR and TMA molecular testing on a single platform designed for intuitive operation, enhancing a laboratory’s flexibility and amplifying productivity.

  • IntelliGuard’s Linked Visibility Inventory System, (LVIS), won a bronze award in the Nonsurgical Hospital Supplies and Equipment category, is the first real-time medication management system that operates at the point of care. Designed for the anesthesiology team working in a hectic operating room, it uses patented RFID technology to track medication uses as they occur and manage regulatory and narcotics control, while ensuring expiration and recall issues are properly dispatched, all out of sight from the point of care. LVIS won a Good Design Award earlier this year.

“Normally you wouldn’t think design would matter for a product used by anesthesiologist in the OR, but we thought it is important to prioritize both form and function to improve workflows,” said Gordon Krass, IntelliGuard’s CEO. “I would like to thank DDSTUDIO for their creative work on the Linked Visibility Inventory System™ (LVIS) and the Medical Design Excellence Awards committee for this honor.”

The awards are judged by an impartial, multidisciplinary panel of expert jurors comprised of a balance of clinicians, engineers, and designers.

Read more about the finalists

June 12, 2018

DDSTUDIO Congratulates Medical Design Excellence Award Finalists

Congratulations to DDSTUDIO clients Hologic®, IntelliGuard® and InfoBionic® for being named finalists for a Medical Design Excellence Award (MDEA), the medtech industry’s prestigious honor recognizing design and engineering that improves the quality of health care delivery and accessibility.

“What these three finalists’ devices have in common is that their form function – the shape, layout, packaging, and aesthetic – are focused on the user’s perspective in context,” said Charles Curbbun, DDSTUDIO’s chief executive.

“DDSTUDIO’s human-centered design process ensures that our client’s cutting-edge technology can be encased in a solution that’s based on needs, not design preference,” Curbbun said.  “The result is transformative design that fits seamlessly into the user’s life or workflow.”

  • Hologic’s Panther Fusion® is nominated for the award in the Testing and Diagnostic Products and Systems category. The modular, field upgrade to Hologic’s fully automated Panther system combines PCR and TMA molecular testing on a single platform designed for intuitive operation, enhancing a laboratory’s flexibility and amplifying productivity.
  • InfoBionic’s MoMe® Kardia System, a wearable, ambulatory cardiac monitoring system designed for users with transient symptoms of arrhythmia, is nominated in the Cardiovascular Device category. Its sleek, unobtrusive design allows it to be worn comfortably and correctly all day, without interrupting the user’s routine or activities. It provides reliable, detailed data that doctors can access when they want, allowing for real- time diagnosis. In January, the market-shifting MoMe® won a Good Design
  • IntelliGuard’s Linked Visibility Inventory System, (LVIS), a finalist in the Nonsurgical Hospital Supplies and Equipment category, is the first real-time medication management system that operates at the point of care. Designed for the anesthesiology team working in a hectic operating room, it uses patented RFID technology to track medication uses as they occur and manage regulatory and narcotics control, while ensuring expiration and recall issues are properly dispatched, all out of sight from the point of care. LVIS won a Good Design Award earlier this year.

MDEA winners will be named at the awards ceremony June 12, at the MD&M East conference in New York City. Good luck to everyone and we look forward to seeing you in New York.

March 27, 2018

DDSTUDIO Welcomes Innovation Engineer Gerhard Stoltz

DDSTUDIO is thrilled to welcome another seasoned innovation engineer to its product development team.

Gerhard Stoltz brings to DDSTUDIO more than 10 years of product development experience, 20 patents and a track record of driving design into prototype and mass production.

“It is refreshing to find a mechanical engineer with great design sensibility and a knowledge of the iterative process that interprets design into great commercial products,” said DDSTUDIO Chief Executive Charles Curbbun. Welcome Gerhard!

September 29, 2017

Electronic Gaming Machines Powered by Empathy

Technology is revolutionizing the casino gaming experience. Our DDSTUDIO design team is helping drive this new user experience by designing Electronic Gaming Machines powered by empathy.

As we head to G2E 2017  in Las Vegas next week, we are excited about revealing a project we’ve been working on the past few months.  We’ve been involved with a number of exciting G2E launches. In 2014, we helped design the IGT CrystalCore Video Slot Machine what won the Best Slot Product 2014 Gaming Technology Award.

What we saw last year was the introduction of more skills based gaming designed to better engage the Millennial casino visitor. While Millennials are visiting Las Vegas, the numbers of them gambling is lower than previous generations. Only about 63% of the visitors visited the casino floor, preferring the pool, shopping, dining and clubs.

Technology is providing new ways to make the gaming experience more attractive to this new generation. Casinos are using new technology like facial recognition and RFID chips for security as well as for building a more personalized experience. Casino gambling of the future has to be personalized, convenient, engaging, and immersive.

At DDSTUDIO, our mission is to help create Electronic Gaming Machines (EGM) that deliver exceptional gaming experiences to players.  Using our human-centered approach to linking the product to the overall experience, we’ve been rethinking the gaming experience, putting the guest at the center of the experience. We’ve been experimenting with different ways to fully immerse the visitor, through engaging and delighting all of the senses.

We built multiple models and prototypes of all sizes, applied our design thinking approach, and continued to refine… you’ll just have to wait until next week for the big reveal of our electronic gaming machines powered by empathy! It’s going to be the new generation of casino gaming.

May 15, 2017

Virtual Reality brings a fresh way to engage users at Nortek’s product launch

The Challenge

How do you thrill customers with an immersive real-life experience using a security access control product in a tradeshow booth?

DDSTUDIO collaborated with Nortek Security to completely redesign their new e3 Tele Entry Access Control System delivering a physical and digital access control experience for a new generation of users.

Listen to the design team share their stories about the project.

Creating a Real-Life Immersive Tradeshow Experience

With growing excitement to launch the product at an international Industry event in Las Vegas, Nortek presented us with the challenge of designing a real-life immersive experience in their booth that illustrates the product’s ease of use, intuitive interface in a fresh and exciting fashion.

Our vision is to make security systems easier to install and use. BluePass addresses the top priorities for businesses looking to update their physical access control systems. Similarly, the e3 Tele Entry user experience has been streamlined making it more like using a smartphone,” said John LaFond, VP, Integrated Systems Product Management at Nortek Security & Control in the recent press release.

The Answer: Virtual Reality Shield!

We wanted to simulate the human experience of access control on the tradeshow floor, so we reimagined the tradeshow booth with this goal in mind. Our team had been testing Virtual Reality and thought that it might be the right answer.  But we needed to make it as real as possible, and not just a “game”. The result achieved our vision!

LINEAR e3 Tele Entry access control system, Beauty of a Beast

The Nortek clients and other attendees enjoyed an entertaining virtual reality simulation which was deemed a highlight of the show.

Working with the Nortek Security Control product and marketing teams, we used VR to showcase the product through an immersive user experience.

Because the product had been designed with today’s mobile and social user in mind, we wanted to help Nortek express the Human Centered Design aspects of the new product design. VR let us showcase the new product in context and simulated alternative scenarios to make it pulse with tangible fun.

One scene was a literal experience typical of the entrance to a suburban gated community

The New Demo – in Virtual Reality

The Virtual Reality experience in Nortek’s booth was a win-win for visitors and for the exhibitor.  They were able to maximize attendance and impact in a relatively small exhibit space with careful planning and by  generating an exiting hum of rolling buzz. Nortek set the bar high by giving an immersive experience in their booth and was the only company at that event to use VR for showcasing a new  product across an immersive visual storytelling landscape. .

Because it drew a curious crowd who wanted to try out VR, Nortek was able to get a strong sampling of interest, gauge the interaction, and get immediate feedback from a large audience.

Nortek sent invites and did PR around their event and gained additional momentum and interest by word of mouth,  as attendees shared how much fun it was to participate in the virtual reality experience that included a virtual encounter with Oprah and Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonators.  As word got around, it became a “must see” on the show floor.

Customers were then transported to the interior of a futuristic city that opened blast doors into a view of the SciFi scene on the water from the glass elevator, which ultimately transported the visitor up for the finale.

The VR Experience that Nortel demonstrated at ISC West provided a truly unique and immersive experience. In a show environment, with so many products and brands inundating show attendees with more of the same, Nortek set themselves above all others,” said Randy Hamilton VP Operations at Universal Surveillance Systems

CONGRATULATIONS TO NORTEK SECURITY for the Successful Launch of the LINEAR – e3 Tele Entry Access Control System!

January 24, 2017

Virtual Reality as a Powerful Design and Development Tool

DDSTUDIO is a boutique product design firm with seasoned multidiscipline talent and a proven track record of achieving best in class product innovation. Our formula for success includes deep client collaboration, commitment to the design process and insight about the latest materials, cultural trends and emerging technologies.

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are examples of emerging technologies that DDSTUDIO has explored as potential tools for our Client’s products by testing the technology internally during the Design Process. Our team quickly saw that VR and AR offer multiple benefits including: User Empathy, Deeper Contextual Understanding, Efficiencies in Concept Refinement and Client Team Alignment.

Real time Empathy (No More Fuzz)

A recent project that demonstrated the benefits of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality in Design Development was in the transportation industry.  The setting included a payment experience within multiple environments including some very large scale environments. David Glazier, DDSTUDIO Director of UX Strategy explains that we’ve reached a new age of Design Driven Product Development. Virtual Reality technology enabled a more accessible format for the client, designers and engineers to participate in the User Experience firsthand and develop deep “Empathy” for their customer. This immersive perspective created a collaborative platform for everyone involved creating an outcome of greater value and purpose.

Our client could be the traveler in context by interacting with the graphical user interface, paying for a ticket, and walking through the gate. The ability to observe that specific traveler’s perspective made the design decisions immediately credible.

User Experience is part of the first development engagement phase when time is spent learning about the product journey from the user’s perspective using tools such as research and observation. These insights include deeper understanding of the physical, behavioral and emotional needs, as well as identifying opportunities for important unmet needs. While these insights frequently contribute to the “aha” moment for the product or experience, the client sometimes has difficulty understanding or appreciating the “user experience” as a whole. Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality help solve this ambiguity, by providing a solid framework and bridging the gap between fuzzy and understood.

Deeper Contextual Understanding

Virtual Reality enabled the DDSTUDIO team to quickly transport our client’s concept review meeting from a one dimensional, static PowerPoint presentation into a 3D interactive experience in an authentically simulated environment. We were able to walk our client through the series of concepts and explain deliberate design decisions and comparisons in real time. This clarified product attributes and modifications in context of the experience based on concrete insights learned through research in the previous phase. The DDSTUDIO team even simulated moving trains, lights and sounds into the Virtual Reality which made the experience instantly believable and actionable. The client was ecstatic!

Concept to Refinement Efficiency  

A typical product Concept Phase moves from development to refinement after a series of feedback sessions with various client stakeholder who down select to their favorite directions. Initial concepts are sketched by Industrial designers then entered into CAD software where the designer confirms the internal component layout and any other constraints from the brief.  At the same time, User experience and Interaction designers are evaluating the level of intuitive design and looking for opportunities to refine and exploit their delight.   Engineering is analyzing the enclosure concepts for mechanisms, attachments, materials and manufacturing processes. This attention to detail and implementation consideration results in models that are proportionally accurate and manufactural. By adding Virtual Reality, our client can provide immediate feedback because the Virtual Reality version is an exact replica in proportion to the surrounding environment facilitating deep contextual understanding.  (To increase the aspect of reality even more, the DDSTUDIO team offers a physical tool that allows the client to physically interact with the model moving the virtual reality to augmented reality.) The technology combination delivers a canvas for all departments to provide high level input, eliminate the need for multiple session and achieve a level of synergy that improves the overall quality in the refinement stage. Another client benefit of VR is that the design and engineering team are on hand to respond to questions about the impact any of concept modifications as they relate to budget and schedule. The client can then prioritize as a team to align with their company’s vision to confidently satisfy constraints and their customer.

Global Alignment

Virtual Reality delivers a new internal communication and alignment vehicle for our clients.  All departments in any location can experience the concepts in the same meeting and point out what’s important from their department’s perspective. Suddenly engineering understands the marketing department’s initiatives, mechanical engineering learns how the software team’s graphical user interface can enhance their functional decisions, senior management sees the synergistic exchange and is more confident to invest in the next phase of the project.

As Experience Designers, we design products and services from the human engagement perspective (users frame of reference), to identify and prioritize the user needs in context and then thoughtfully integrate the most appropriate blend of technology cultural trends and materials to achieve the most relevant “best in class” product solution.

Let DDSTUDIO use Virtual Reality to elevate the quality of your next Product Design and Development engagement and achieve “best in class” status for your next product!

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