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  • Sarang Sheth

10 Best Medical Designs of 2017 and the Future of Healthcare in 2018

1) The LOHAS bed

Sweet, sweet sunshine was the inspiration behind this innovative, hybrid hospital bed/wheelchair design by Lirong Yang. Just a bit of sun can go a long way to make paralyzed individuals feel unconfined to their beds. The problem is that it currently takes 3 nurses to transition the patient from bed to wheelchair. The LOHAS bed, however, only requires one.

Utilizing a unique folding design, the assistant or nurse can safely and easily transition the patient without any real lifting. The bed can be folded and transformed into a wheelchair in a matter of minutes without disturbing the individual. The result is more privacy, more independence, and more sunshine to enjoy!

Designer: Lirong Yang

2) Dosnoventa bicycle

Unimpressed by the sterile vibe of existing wheelchair models, designers Hoyoung Youn, Sungyub Lee, and Jiyoon Han looked to Barcelona’s Dosnoventa bicycle brand as inspiration for their Infinito mobility concept.

The design first tackles the stigma wheelchair users face with an entirely new aesthetic and form. With a sporty silhouette and large go-anywhere wheels, the new look is more rover-like than wheelchair. Fun, vibrant color details mimic that of Dosnoventa fixie collection.

The new design also enhances mobility thanks to its scissor-inspired structure. It sports an innovative adjustable seat-height feature for better ergonomics. It also has two distinct riding positions: one that is ideal for cruising and manoeuvering and the other for putting the user at eye level with standing individuals. This in combination with a safety features like 6-point buckling and a gyroscopic stabilizer give users the confidence and independence they so desire.

Designers: Hoyoung Youn, Sungyub Lee & Jiyoon Han

3) OH hearing aid

This thoughtful design by Julia Marina Cunha forces us to examine our attitudes about hearing disabilities. For years, hearing aid designs have gotten “better” by blending in with the human body. However, this masking of the device also perpetuates the concept that hearing loss or disability is something to be ashamed of.

Designed with this in mind, OH is at once a hearing aid and a fashion accessory. It allows the user to customize the product by changing the external ring’s range of textures and colors. It can also be used as an earring or attached hearing pin. However it’s worn or in whatever style, it’s aim is to diminish the stigma associated with assistive technology and enhance the user’s self confidence.

Designer: Julia Marina Cunha

4) DolPhin Smart Mini Infrared Thermometer

Thermometers have taken a giant leap in design with the popularity of Withings Thermo last year. Ever since then, thermometers have come leaps and bounds in their abilities, aesthetics and especially sizes – however none of them have been as compact as the DolPhin Smart Mini Infrared Thermometer. This smart thermometer is the embodiment of portability and compact design being just 5cm long and weighing a total of only 13g.

The thermometer simply plugs into one’s smartphone audio jack (sorry everyone who owns the new wave of jack-less smartphones). Thankfully, due to the noninvasive, non-contact nature of this thermometer, it can be used again and again while staying safe and sanitized. With the thermometer comes a helpful app to read and store the temperatures being taken. Not only this, the accompany app has useful searching capabilities for nearby facilities such as; neighboring hospital, internal treatment, university hospital, otolaryngology, health center, pharmacy or the emergency room. This little guy is perfect for a vast range of applications and taking up only 5cm in your pocket; it’s safe to say it’s an easy decision bringing this with you in your travel/medical kit everywhere and anywhere because you never know when you just might need it.

Designer: DolPhin

5) Clevu wearable tech

As someone who’s been a lifelong sufferer of deteriorating vision, I can testify that no mix of glasses and corrective lenses is enough to get it right all the time. Simply put, there will always be instances where your vision could be better throughout the day.

Designed with this in mind, Clevu (a clever combination of the words clear and view) is a wearable system that can not only work as traditional reading glasses but is capable of enhancing a variety of other sight situations. Enjoying the outdoors? There’s a setting for that. Watching TV? There’s a setting for that too.

Using a digital lens overlay system with parts integrated into the compact frame, users can toggle between preset and customized settings to enhance contrast and even make the most minute adjustments in focus. Ideal for aging individuals with varying degenerative eye problems, Clevu not only adapts to the user’s unique needs but simultaneously inspires their sense of independence.

Designer: Hyosub An

6) Cloudandco Smart Cane

Design for so many people is such a visual medium, one must ask oneself… If you remove sight from the design experience, does it still remain a good product? I find designing for the visually impaired quite an interesting domain, because they experience products in a way we don’t, or more importantly, cant. Try doing whatever it is you’re doing right now (eating a meal, perhaps) with your eyes closed. It’s a completely different experience that most people may not be comfortable with.

The Cloudandco Smart Cane by Brandon and Max takes on the challenge of designing a product with an experience that is far from visual. The ergonomic smart cane comes as just a joystick handle with an automatic telescoping stick that shoots out when switched on. However, the walking stick doesn’t stop there. It connects to an app on the smartphone, actually guiding the user to destinations they set. The Smart Cane can give off vibration and audio feedback, guiding its user to their destination. Users can toggle through destinations using a button on the top. There’s even a braille panel on the back that can communicate with the user.

The Smart Cane takes its non-visual experience further by allowing the users to charge it wirelessly. Instead of having them fiddle with ports and cables, the Smart Cane can just be placed on its charging pad and it automatically gets charged for when it’s required next!

Designers: Brandon Cooke & Max Dahl

7) Handihaler

Why do medical products look the way they do? That’s a question I’ve asked so many times on this website, it’s beginning to become my catchphrase. Look at the GIF above. The first couple of products you see look instinctively medical. Why so? My theory is that because in an attempt to not overpower the function, less attention was paid on form. This makes medical products look functionally reliable. In short, the more functional it looks, the more functional it must be.

However, designers are working to change that now. Medical products should be functional without looking ugly under the ruse of functionality. You can have a medical product that looks incredibly stylish and yet does a remarkable job of saving lives. So look at the GIF above. Look at it some more. The inhalers transform from functional to fabulous, breaking all norms of medical product design, a trend we’re beginning to see a lot these days.

Simple and desirable, these black and white inhalers don’t just break the stigma of carrying an inhaler, they also look striking enough that you’d instantly spot it on the shelves (helping the brand reach customers). They embody a characteristic not often used with medical products. Iconic. The black and white body helps create a contrast while cutting the visual bulk of the product. The white part of the product lies on top and doesn’t interact with the user’s hands much, while the bottom is mainly used for gripping, and comes molded in a matte black rubbery material for easy and comfortable gripping. The three inhalers, although different in design, look like a part of the same visual family, and do a remarkable job of making medical products desirable and instantly iconic.

Designers: Craig McGarrell, Dawn Tang and Agata Guz (Team Consulting)

8) Epipi

Time is of the essence when it comes to treating anaphylaxis, so it only makes sense that the standard EpiPen would be as simple to use as, say, a fire extinguisher. Only… they’re not! All that archaic imagery and fine print only make things more complicated. This new design, called Epipi, really makes things as simple as unscrew, press, and go!

The rigid casing protects the device even when its being juggled around in a purse or backpack. In the event that it must be used, its color combination and construction intuitively tell the user what to do. Just twist to arm it, hold against the skin, and press the button to release. A clear window into the medication reservoir will indicate that the contents have been emptied which enhances the confidence of the user that they performed the function correctly.

Designer: Harry Moorman

9) The Hue inhaler

Style that saves lives seems so apt a title for this post too (it was used for a post done earlier this week). I feel it’s important that medical products that are more commercial than industrial should be given style makeovers, so they don’t become isolating elements, but rather elements that boost the confidence and healing capabilities of the people using them. We’ve seen wonderful work done in the prosthetic department as well as for casts that heal fractured bones.

The Hue Inhaler is a step in that direction, bringing incredible CMF detailing to the otherwise mundane asthma inhaler. The Hue is completely 3D printed (note the transition from mottled color to transparent) and comes with a dazzling set of color combinations that are bound to break the monotony of medical product design. There’s even a woven paracord for easy access, or clipping/strapping to your bag/pants.

With roughly 300 million people in this world suffering from asthma and almost 250,000 deaths per year, the Hue Inhaler’s crusade to destroy stigma around inhalers may just save more than a fair share of lives.

Designer: Tim Zarki

10) One Drop Diabetes system

Oftentimes, in the process of designing a product that saves lives, we forget one rather crucial part of the healing process. The product must make users feel better, not just through function, but also emotionally, and psychologically. While most medical devices aim to perform functionally, only some try to look fashionable, less intimidating, or break stigmas through good design.

A collaboration between Pensa and Jeff Dachis (the former co-founder of Razorfish), One Drop is a completely exhaustive diabetes fighting system that could easily be a part of any diabetic’s EDC kit. Designed with a homogeneous language that binds the three products together into a beautifully chrome kit that anyone would be proud to carry, the One Drop brilliantly bridges the wide chasm between medicine and fashion, empowering people and motivating them into keeping their health in check!

Designers: Pensa & Jeff Dachis

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