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.

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!

December 14, 2016

DDSTUDIO Design Thinking Approach Nets GOOD DESIGN® 2016 Awards for 3 Clients

BioXP 3200 System, Orison Tower and Panel, and Hoist Mi6 Home Gym Selected for Design Excellence

SAN DIEGO (15 December 2016) – San Diego Experience Design firm DDSTUDIO has been recognized by GOOD DESIGN® for design excellence that goes beyond the product by looking at the human experience. Three innovations representing a diverse community were each awarded a 2016 GOOD DESIGN® Award: SGI-DNA’s BioXP 3200 System, Orison Tower and Orison Panel, and the Hoist Mi6 Home Gym.

The GOOD DESIGN Awards showcase the Experience Design process applied to each DDSTUDIO collaboration that puts the human experience front and center. DDSTUDIO approaches each client challenge from the ground, applying tools from Design Thinking and Lean Start-Up techniques to quickly originate concepts, user-test, iterate and refine. The DDSTUDIO process reveals human behavior and emotion then integrates context and workflow into the product/service journey to create outstanding experiences.

“We have the best jobs in the world. Each day we get to bring our clients’ visions and dreams to life,” says Charles Curbbun, Chief. “We are honored that these three projects have been recognized by GOOD DESIGN. Each represents a best-in-class solution for its category.”

The Winning Designs

Synthetic Genomics BioXp™ 3200 System


Synthetic Genomics commercialized DNA division sought to democratize the gene assembly process, allowing labs to build their own genes de novo in-house. The ground-breaking result was the BioXp™ 3200 System, the world’s first DNA printer, a machine allowing any biotechnology company or academic laboratory to create genes on their benchtop hands-free, starting with electronically transmitted sequence data. Read more about this award.

Orison Energy’s Tower and Panel




Orison Energy’s Tower and Panel Store energy and intelligently power a home or business with the first ever plug-and-play solution. Whether energy comes from the grid or solar, users can control when to store it and when to use it. Orison Founder and CEO Eric Clifton was keenly focused on the human aspect for his revolutionary battery energy storage solution and asked DDSTUDIO to help him bring that vision to life. The result is the first home battery system that simply plugs in and stores energy that can be used later for less cost. Read more about this award.

Hoist Mi6 Home Gym


Hoist and DDSTUDIO have collaborated on many commercial and consumer fitness products for more than 15 years. The Hoist Mi6 Home Gym, represents the innovation excellence, aesthetic appeal and quality that today’s consumers demand for in-home products. This gym provides a complete range of functional training exercises designed to obtain maximum results and achieve a strong and versatile body. The Mi6 is engineered to build multiple muscle groups through smooth, rhythmic, and continuous movements that support the body as it moves through life. Read more about this award.

About the GOOD DESIGN Awards

Founded in Chicago in 1950, GOOD DESIGN® remains the oldest, prestigious, and most recognized program for design excellence worldwide.

“This year’s historic 66th Good Design program,” states Christian Narkiewicz-Laine, Museum President, The Chicago Athenaeum, “recognizes the work of thousands of designers and manufacturers worldwide who have successfully undertaken the design challenge to produce the best and most outstanding design products across the globe to our large and expanding global consumers. GOOD DESIGN represents the world’s critical mass of the design and manufacturing industry representing the best consumer design ranging from the ‘spoon to the city’.”

GOOD DESIGN is presented by The Chicago Athenaeum, together with The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies as the foremost program that honor and recognizes the best design talent and the best manufacturing worldwide.

Winning products and graphics for 2016 can be viewed at the Museum’s website at www.chi-athenaeum.org and www.europeanarch.eu.

September 23, 2016

Critical Design Thinking in the Development of Medical Devices; “Funky” Does Not Mean Easy to Use

displayMedical devices are becoming a part of our everyday lives, whether to monitor, diagnose, or predict the likelihood of a disease or illness, or prevent it through healthy habits. To serve the growing number of device designers, engineers, and manufacturers in the San Diego region, BIOCOM held its annual Medical Device and Diagnostics Conference, DeviceFest 2016 on August 30 at the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa. DDSTUDIO was privileged to be entrusted with the “wake-up” after lunch session. Standing out amongst weighty sessions on regulatory issues, funding vehicles and digital health technologies, Charles Curbbun and Tracy Manning led a spirited discussion on human-centered design that reminded conference attendees about the needs of the real people who use medical devices and technologies and depend on them for a healthy life.

Human Centered Design and Design Thinking in the Medical Device Development Process drive a higher return on investment. Design Thinking makes a device easier to use and more efficient. At least as important as the greater efficiency and efficacy, are the intangibles that drive acceptance. People interact better with devices they want to use and feel comfortable using. Design Thinking in medical device development places a priority on the interaction of an individual with the device.

The presentation included several successful development projects with leading device manufacturers such as TrueMed and Synthetic Genomics, and showed how product teams effectively incorporated the Design Thinking Process in their commercialization roadmaps.

presentationimage“It is no longer enough to have a ‘space age’ enclosure with digital readouts facing every direction,” according to Charles. “Making it look futuristic does not make it easier to use. We must work to delight users and help them feel that their contributions are critical to success. When people actively enjoy using the tools they have to do their jobs, they do better work. Better work means fewer mistakes, more thorough execution and as a result a more profitable outcome.”

Design Thinking begins with a deep understanding of what the client wants to accomplish. Products should reflect the visual brand language of the client, an expression to the customer of image, feel, thoughts and value. The goal is to simplify product development by focusing on objectives and desires that are important to the users of the product:

  • Approachable
  • Intuitive
  • Ready to use quickly
  • Different levels of controls for different users
  • Consistent and repeatable

Another important consideration is product esthetic. Medical device companies can be well ahead of the competition in technology and lose the battle in the market if they don’t delight the consumer. Consumers are used to the slick feel and functionality of smartphones, and they don’t tolerate anything less from state-of-the-art medical equipment. Meeting this demand requires a deep understanding of the user journey.  Using ethnographic research, designers observe users in their environment to gain empathy and discover unmet needs and opportunities.

Startups should consider and invest time  in Design Thinking activities even during the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) phase of development. An MVP may do only few things, but it needs to do them very well, so the user is delighted. Otherwise a startup can spend all of its resources chasing user experience issues during the early development phase and there will be low adoption. Charles spoke from experience when he explained to the audience that they used to approach design programs by thinking about what they wanted to start off with, doing that, then justifying what they had done with research. Today, with Design Thinking and involving the user in the design process, there are more predictable outcomes.

Wrapping up the presentation, Charles and Tracy emphasized the urgency of adopting critical Design Thinking into the design process whether for medical devices or any other products. “We [Users] are much less patient now when something doesn’t respond” said Charles. The continuing escalation in user expectations creates a market environment where companies that invest in design will win in the market.

July 29, 2016

DDStudio expands outreach by hiring human-centered design expert

DDStudio, a leader in human-centered design excellence announced a major expansion of the company’s commitment to the human experience in design with the engagement of Milt Halsted. Milt will head DDStudio’s outreach program to design-focused product-driven companies striving to gain competitive strength through user-centric product design that is elegant as well as functional and in full compliance with applicable regulatory requirements.

A veteran of BMW’s pivotal Designworks studio and market leading Phillips Plastics, Milt brings a deep understanding of user-centric design needs for multiple markets, including medical/healthcare, consumer and industrial. “We’re so very fortunate to have Milt join our team,” says Tracy Manning, Chief Revenue Officer at DDStudio. “We look forward to drawing on his deep experience to excite our design-focused client base with our unique brand of design thinking.”

DDStudio is particularly interested in engaging with product-focused companies exiting the startup/Minimum Viable Product phase to focus on new designs for discerning middle-market customers. The DDStudio approach is a holistic approach to human interaction with product coupled with the realities of conformance to government regulations and laws. Interested parties can contact Milt Halsted at 760 438 0243

DDStudio is a pet-friendly work environment. Milt’s two collies Cherokee & Lakota will also be joining our family.

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