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PD+I 2015 Conference, London

The PD+I 2015 conference took place on 20-21 May 2015 chaired by Chris Lefteri, generating ideas, dialogue and business opportunities in the industrial design community. Following the success of the event, planning is under way for PD+I 2016. To find out more about opportunities at PD+I 2016, contact Donna Bushell

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Brunel shows the value of student collaborative projects

27 June 2014

Tributes were paid to Brunel University’s student-industry collaborative projects at this year’s Made in Brunel showcase event in London in June. A session showed that SMEs as well as larger companies can benefit from the work of design students on placement.

Brunel has provided four interns over three years, all of them “very talented”, said Pete Cartlidge, director at Fuse, a 10-person, London-based toy design and development agency. Brunel design student Peter Sheppard said it was great to have a live brief from Fuse for a toy that is now being evaluated by a leading company.

John Burke from Cambridge-based Team Consulting, which has about 60 employees engaged in design and development of medical devices, said his company benefited from having the perspective of young interns who show how the company can be an aspirational place to work.

Brunel student Oscar Daws worked on Team projects that included a packaging concept based on the Japanese principles of ‘poka-yoke’ that aims to minimise device user error. Instead of an instruction leaflet, Team’s poka-yoke packaging presents users with each part of the device in order, with clear graphical instructions on how to construct and use the device at every stage (image above).

The perspective of a larger company came from Crown Packaging. Cormac Neeson, director of corporate affairs, said Crown had worked with Brunel for more than 20 years and recruited 40 graduates from the university’s design and engineering courses. In a student collaboration this year, Neeson said Crown was impressed by a concept for a smart can for sun cream that has embedded sensors to alert users when to top up.

Brunel graduates will have another career option when the incubator Central Research Laboratory opens, according to Andrew Ward, Brunel’s director of corporate relations. He said that Brunel will be a mentoring partner for design and engineering start-ups that locate at the facility, which is part of the former EMI Vinyl Factory being redeveloped in Hayes, London.

“We can say to graduating students – Don’t go and work for Dyson tomorrow, come and work with us for eight or 12 months,” he said.

The Central Research Laboratory will have space for design entrepreneurs plus shared space, including a 3D fabrication facility. “In 10-15 years time, we want the CRL to be a book end to Tech City in east London,” he said.

At our PD+I 2014 conference in May, Stephen Green, Brunel’s programme director for integrated product design, spoke in an educational panel session. 

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A wheelchair that grows with the child

22 April 2013

In a partnership with the NHS, Renfrew Group has developed Chair 4 Life, a powered wheelchair with a modular design that adapts as the child grows.

The chair employs universal docking and fastening systems so that different seating modules and additional parts can be added to meet the user’s changing needs.

Chair 4 Life also has a vertical lift, enabling eye-level interaction with peers, which has been shown to facilitate social and educational development and improve feelings of dignity and independence.

Renfrew says: “Chair4 Life is aimed at maximising mobility and independence for disabled children as they grow into adulthood. As children grow their physical and developmental needs change rapidly, and are at greater risk of deterioration if their wheelchair is not appropriate.” 

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Healthcare innovators to share insights

16 April 2013

The Consumerisation of Healthcare session at our Product Design + Innovation conference next month will examine the role product design can play in the complete cycle of a person’s care: from disease prevention, screening and diagnosis, through to treatment, monitoring and health management.

Jeroen Raijmakers, global creative director for healthcare at Philips Design, and Matt Pattison, an ex-clinician who founded design consultancy Anatomy-HCD will headline the healthcare session on 16 May.

“‘Design for life’ means designers now have the opportunity to use their creative power in support of a changing society; from one that is focused on cost and wealth to one that is about care and health,” says Jeroen Raijmakers who recently published the acclaimed paper People Focused Innovation in Healthcare. Read our press release on the healthcare session 

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Sagentia fires up Quadro

Phil Gray, MD of Quadro Design Associates, speaking at Product Design + Innovation 2011


7 March 2013

Cambridge-based Sagentia has become the new owner of Quadro Design Associates in a deal which Phil Gray, MD of Quadro, says will give the industrial design agency the support it needs to grow.

Sagentia is a global innovation, technology and product development company with more than half its business arising in the medical sector, but also working in the consumer and industrial product spaces. It is expanding its expertise in industrial design with the acquisition of Quadro, which will remain independent under the management of Gray and co-founder Morag Hutcheon, design director.

Sagentia’s MD, Dan Edwards, said in a statement: “We have enjoyed collaborating with Quadro for several years, and are delighted to now formally welcome them into our team. The value this brings – having design and technology staff co-located – is clear to our clients. Quadro has significant experience across all three of our key target sectors – consumer, industrial and medical. And as the medical/healthcare industry increasingly focuses on usability of medical devices we know the time is right to invest in human factors and strategic design capability.”

Gray says that over the past decade he has espoused the close alignment of design and product innovation in his work with clients, and also as a national director of British Design Innovation, and during the Product Design + Innovation conference, which he co-chaired in 2012.

He said: “Our collaboration with Sagentia is recognition that design is an integral part of innovation, not an add-on after you have got the technology sorted out.”

As well as working on Sagentia projects, Quadro will continue to work with other clients across a variety of sectors. Among its global client base are multinational groups such as AT&T, Pyrex, VTech, Toshiba and Siemens.

The support of Sagentia will allow Quadro to pursue an ambitious growth plan, which will involve hiring talented designers. “We expect to multiply up over the next three years,” said Gray.

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MOD award for vital signs monitor

23 October 2012

Cambridge Design Partnership has won a new award from the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) to design a product that monitors vital signs of wounded soldiers during retrieval from the battlefield.

The firm previously designed an oxygen concentrator in collaboration with the Centre for Defence Enterprise (CDE) to provide aid in battlefield situations by safely delivering potentially life-saving oxygen to wounded soldiers on the front line.

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Medical device is a real boost

27 March 2012

The Revitive IX is a blood circulation booster, which has won a Red Dot Award for Team Consulting in Cambridge and its client Actegy Health.

Due for launch in late April, the medical device uses electrical stimulation and Actegy’s proprietary Isorocker system to significantly increase the blood flow in the feet and legs.

Paul Greenhalgh, director of design at Team Consulting, says: “Medical devices don’t need to be beige and boring. In fact the look and feel of a product can play a big part in encouraging compliance. With the Revitive IX we’ve proved that you don’t need to talk down to the elderly and sick.

“They appreciate good design as much as everybody else, but we do need to avoid alienating them through complex user interfaces and technology. With so much of our work shrouded in secrecy, it is great to be able to show the world that through intelligent design we can make things better and to receive the recognition for us and our client.”

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NHS uses pre-procurement to source phlebotomy chair

24 February 2012

A design for a new type of phlebotomy chair is undergoing clinical trials by NHS Blood and Transplant Services (NHSBT) at clinics and mobile blood donation centres.

NHSBT spent three years unsuccessfully attempting to source a better chair through conventional procurement, before it approached the NHS National Innovation Centre (NIC) to undertake a pre-commercial procurement process.

Three design consultancies tendered their concepts to the NIC, two of which were progressed to proof-of-principle prototypes and tested by NHSBT. BDI member Renfrew Group International’s Donation Chair design was the winner.

For the process, NIC used its innovative comparative quotation scenario which is supported and controlled by the procurement team. Potential manufacturers benefit by receiving clear product specifications and the removal of the necessity to design and develop products themselves in isolation, resulting in optimal cost savings.

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Philips Hospital Area tests ambient experience ideas

5 January 2012

Philips’ Ambient Experience design team has been involved in the Philips Hospital Area, which recreates a hospital environment for research purposes.

One of the first developments is an uptake room for patients waiting for a PET/CT cancer scan. The research prototype has soothing lighting and calming video images and sounds to help relax and distract the patient and it was tested at the Dutch Cancer Institute in Amsterdam.

“We commissioned new video content for the healing environment that was different to those used for existing Ambient Experience solutions,” says Sachin Behere, senior design consultant in the Ambient Experience Design group and lead designer on the healing environments projects.

“As well as relying on our creative expertise, we applied research in healthcare art and neuro-aesthetics, which provides insights into how the brain processes art. The result is material based on the theme of ‘nature’ that is recognizable and comforting for people, with slowly altering details.”

Another development is the Adaptive Healing Room (AHR), a room concept for patients recovering from a stroke or other brain injuries that helps to orientate them, giving them a sense of time, and ‘dosing’ the level of sensory stimulus.

“A patient doesn’t experience each component of a room in isolation, and in the AHR we wanted to ensure every ingredient in the space worked in harmony with each other and was tailored to the needs of the patient,” says Behere.

The AHR will help with testing of new technologies, such as people-sensing equipment and an artificial skylight.

Philips says there is a large body of evidence that suggests that the more a patient stays connected to the natural rhythms of time and nature, the better the chances of a speedy recovery.

The room uses software, programmed with a 24 hour cycle, which dictates how each element of the room works to create an ‘adaptive daily rhythm’ – influencing for example the light levels and content on the interactive orientation screen.

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Voice prompts to guide pelvic muscle training

2 December 2011

Industrial Design Consultancy has put its expertise with medical products to good use in the development of XFT-0010, a device that uses a combination of an air pressure probe and voice prompts to control pelvic muscle training programmes.

IDC says this is the third medical project that has completed for Chinese company XFT.

Marc Tanner, IDC’s Head of Design says: “We are delighted to build on the success of our previous projects with XFT. The voice prompt system has been a winning feature in these other products and we are now pleased to bring this feature to the market for pelvic floor training devices.”

Having done extensive research, the XFT-0010 was developed as the first pelvic muscle training device to use voice prompts during the training process.

IDC explains: “The device works by measuring air pressure in the treatment probe as patients exercise their pelvic floor muscles. The system then uses voice prompts and visual icons to guide patients through a training exercise. Preset training programmes vary exercise intensity and enable patients to progress to different levels as muscle strength develops. The visual display also allows the patient to see just how much pressure they are applying at any time.”


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FEATURE: E-health and empowering the patient

29 November 2011

Healthcare in developed countries is going through a major transformation. Pressures on healthcare systems from ageing populations and rising costs are driving technological change, evident in the large number of medical devices and smartphone apps being launched. Different perspectives on where e-health is heading came out at the recent TechWorld 2011 event in London, writes David Eldridge.

At TechWorld, hosted by UK Trade & Investment, George MacGinnis of PA Consulting chaired the conference session on “Healthcare going online - How healthcare delivery is changing our lives.”

MacGinnis sees three effects of the transition happening in UK healthcare:

- Acute care is moving from hospitals into specialist centres;
- Other types of care are being delivered in the community and the home, with online health services being just one aspect of that growing trend;
- Patients are becoming active participants in their own care.

Remote monitoring and support of chronically ill patients in their home has spawned internet-based services and devices from companies such as Docobo, based in the UK. Docobo’s doc@HOME service is via secure web access, in which the healthcare professional can check the data and medication compliance of a patient remotely, with a clinical visit only triggered if necessary. The patient accesses the service through Docobo’s handheld device called HealthHUB (pictured above) or via a PC.

Speaking at the conference, John Tarrant of Docobo said that monitoring their own health data creates “expert patients”. He showed a video of a patient who said he felt he had more control if he could monitor his own health data and use that in discussions with the clinical professional.

Empowering the patient with information is the premise upon which the PatientsLikeMe website (screen grab below) is built. PatientsLikeMe is a network of patients on a secure website in which subscribers can find other people with the same condition and which also provides data aggregation about aspects of the condition.

The website currently has 120,000 users and more than 1,300 conditions. Most of the users are in the US, but Paul Wicks is heading up PatientsLikeMe’s move into the European healthcare space. At the TechWorld conference, Wicks said a subscriber must fill in a detailed questionnaire about their health, and this information is viewable by other subscribers.

The willingness of subscribers to share all their data is what makes PatientsLikeMe function. Wicks showed infographics from this data and other easy-to-use tools that give patients information they cannot access from a doctor.

He criticised the paternalistic approach of doctors who guard information from the patient, often with the motive of being protective towards them.

“I don’t think that approach is good enough any more,” said Wicks.

Doctors can’t always help patients with the anxiety they feel about their condition. But, Wicks said, other patients can help by sharing their experience, in data form and by online contact.

“We believe context is therapeutic. The most important part of a map is ‘You are here’,” he said.

Healthcare providers' perspectives

But if healthcare is going online, how do those people working in healthcare feel about the move?

Eddie Ritson, a manager in the North Ireland healthcare system and a director at the European Centre for Connected Health, said: “Adoption of new technology [by those working in the healthcare system] is slow. We do it, but it takes time to happen.”

Carmel Dickinson, who is the infomatics programme manager at the University of Manchester, made a distinction between e-health and m-health – the latter taking in all aspects of providing a mobile health service.

“So far, m-health hasn’t reached tipping point,” she said. “There have been successful trials, but poor adoption.”

Dickinson said the European m-Health Alliance is trying to achieve the step change that is needed. In its work, it is focusing on twin, synergistic goals: the economic development of m-health and the empowerment of patients.

Will smartphone apps or bespoke devices like Docobo’s HealthHub become the preferred tools as e-health develops?

John Tarrant said bespoke devices (or “fit for purpose products”, as he called them) have the advantage of enhancing user experience through new design features. For example, patients with tremors say they need buttons on a device as they find touchscreens difficult to use.

“There will always be a market for fit for purpose products,” he said.

Paul Wicks claimed only one in four of people with health apps on their smartphone actually open them. Those who do use them do so only a few times, he said.

“The amount of data generated is slim,” said Wicks. But he added: “The challenge is not how to develop a gizmo [device], it’s how to integrate it in a patient’s daily life.”

Carmel Dickinson said the key to the development of useful devices and apps is interoperability. Dickinson and Eddie Ritson said it would be good if a standards system was introduced so that when devices and apps are developed they could adopt those standards and work seamlessly together.

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