Dec 312012
A new medical device wants to make patient vitals more portable and networked, but designing devices for the medical field is nothing like the consumer electronics sector.

Anyone who’s been unfortunate enough to spend time in an ICU knows: It’s a horribly confining experience. Even for patients who are physically capable of walking around, they’re often so tethered to tubes and devices that it’s impossible. Everyone becomes bedbound.

The ViSi Mobile Monitor, by Sotera Wireless, is a pretty exciting prospect in the medical space. About the size of a flip phone, the monitor straps to your wrist to allow patients to move about without unplugging their electronics. It gets measurements from sensors placed on your body, including blood pressure, heart rate, ECG, oxygen saturation, respiration rate, and skin temperature. And just as important, it sends these measurements via Wi-Fi to a nearby nurses station, allowing medical staff to follow an average of eight to 16 patients at once through a PC.

If none of that made sense at all, know this: The ViSi Monitor allows you to go to the bathroom without triggering an alarm that your heart has stopped.

On one hand, the ViSi Monitor has a lot of potential for disruption. It’s portable and networked–two words that aren’t so common in the medical world. On the other hand, it’s no sleek and sexy iPod touch. It’s a clunky little piece of hardware, with a 160×128 pixel screen and an interface that looks inspired by the medical field itself. I wondered, where is the white space? Where is the aluminum and glass? Where is the gorgeous typography? Where are the high-resolution images?

“These guys aren’t cheap, this is something that’s going to live on a person. It has to deal with all sorts of real-life situations no one wants to talk about,” explains Greg Martin, Ziba’s senior interaction designer, who designed the platform’s software. Immediately, I consider the difficulties Jawbone had crafting their Up, while simultaneously having flashbacks to the three people I know who’ve broken their iPhone 5 screens in the past month. It makes sense. But what about that, can I say, sort of ugly display?

“This project wasn’t about innovation, it was about very clear information design in a compacted space,” Martin says. “In the medical space, you’re not innovating for innovation’s sake, which you may be doing on a consumer product. You’re actually looking very carefully on how to maintain the status quo while enhancing the experience.”

Read more . . .
via FastCoDesign – Mark Wilson

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