25 August 2007

Charmr, a laudable Adaptive Path R&D project

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Challenged by an open letter that diabetes patient Amy Tenderich wrote to Steve Jobs, the American experience design consultancy Adaptive Path developed Charmr, an experience design concept to project how insulin pumps and glucose meters might work five years from now.

As reported in CNet News, Charmr is “a prototype for a sleeker, more functional blood glucose monitor and an insulin pump that users can apply directly to their bodies as an adhesive.”

“They researched extensively, interviewing diabetics and consulting with Tenderich, a valuable source of information and a link to the diabetes community.

While the Charmr vaguely resembles an iPod Nano, it has an appeal of its own. The device allows users to monitor the trends of their blood sugar levels, as well as administer insulin via a sweat-proof patch. Not to mention, the device allows for wear on the wrists, or as a keychain or necklace–all of which let the device simply appear to be another mysterious gadget, as opposed to a complex medical apparatus. Furthermore, the Charmr will triple as a USB drive that allows users to view daily trends and patterns of their condition, and other special features.”

Interaction designer Alexa Andrzejewski highlights that Charmr is not a product, but a vision of what the diabetic experience could look like in a few years if considered from a user-centered perspective, exemplifying a more human approach to medical device design, i.e. a device that looks and feels like it was designed with people in mind.

As explained by Dan Saffer, they spent three weeks just learning about diabetes and talking to patients and experts, then another week analyzing and taking in all the data they gathered. They spent another two weeks concepting; creating as many ideas as they could around the design principles they’d come up with. Once they narrowed down to an idea, they created the visual and interaction design to really flesh out that concept, then a movie to explain the vision.

Not surprisingly, they were overwhelmed by the positive feedback.

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