When you have a heart condition, it is often most convenient for the doctor to send you home and ask you to keep a log of your blood pressure. The problem is that existing blood pressure monitors look more at home in a hospital ward, than in any part of a person’s everyday life. Their very appearance can influence the readings they take, and their design, often obtrusive and stigmatizing, can limit the places people take them and their frequency of use.
For this project, we completely redesigned the appearance and interaction of the blood pressure monitor by creating a wireless device that fits into peoples lives. We studied the objects that people carry around with them, and designed an elegant and compact monitor that feels more like a notebook than a medical device. We removed buttons and displays by shifting them to the screen of a nearby smartphone, allowing better, clearer feedback. Rather than design a new technological device, we have created a beautiful and human-friendly object, that is experienced as an extension of your smartphone.
We believe this accessible and intuitive method of measuring blood pressure can have a wide reaching preventative impact on thousands of people worldwide.
This device is designed for anyone who needs to measure their blood pressure This could be purely out of curiosity, or for medical reasons and actually prescribed by a doctor. (The initial market we were designing for was for people in the 50+ age range, however) maybe remove this part? we tried to create a design that would be appealing to all.
Many existing devices designed for monitoring blood pressure are highly stigmatizing, and designed only with medical environments in mind. This can actually contribute to white-coat syndrome and incorrect measurements due to nervousness. Further, many people travel a lot, and we found that they often need devices that are portable and actually fit into their lives. We interviewed users across the UK from the age of 25 to 75 to understand their thoughts on existing wearable technologies, and the context our design would need to fit into.
We understood that the object we designed would need to be portable, and inconspicuous, like a notebook or glasses case, and used this insight as a starting point for creating our design. We also made the most of Bluetooth 4 technology to create an information driven experience through a custom iPhone app.
By basing the design on a firm understanding of people and their interaction with products we believe we have created an elegant blood pressure monitor which appeals to people of all ages and backgrounds.
By freeing ourselves of the constraints of designing another piece of medical equipment that has only the doctor in mind, we feel that we have created a new category of product – something that is in between a high end sports monitoring wristband, and high end medical equipment. This product is the first of its kind to fit into everyday life and wellbeing. It doesn’t ask the user to consider themselves “ill” or “sporty” in order to be worthy of use. We also believe that by trying to make the underlying technology vanish, we have created a calmer and more unobtrusive device, which is more intuitive and enjoyable to interact with.
By using a smartphone as the interface to the device, we have opened the door to creating a whole ecosystem of wearable medical sensors, that can comfortably be interacted with through one, familiar interface. The device will go on sale at the end of 2013
We spent a lot of time with users of all ages in the design process. One of the key findings in our research was that a medical device should make you feel good, not ill. It needs to be aspirational, comforting and inspire trust.
We visited people in their homes, looking at the context our invention would be used in. We looked at the objects they carried and the materials that fitted into the landscape around them.
We researched materials far beyond those usually found in a blood pressure monitor, and experimented with mockups to gauge reactions from users.
Findings from this research directly informed our choices – we needed to design something that could live in someones handbag and not raise an eyebrow – like a notebook, a telephone or keys.
We mapped out the actions a person does each day and how they would interact with a product like this. When might it get in the way? When might something get forgotten?
The final design has no buttons, opening the cover will automatically notify the app on the iPhone, and all the interaction is carried out onscreen.