Welcoming input in efforts to design a product to help busy diabetics.

By JMoyerDesigns Latest Reply 2011-03-26 11:04:24 -0500
Started 2011-03-24 12:31:20 -0500

Hello, everyone!

I am a senior product design student at The Ohio State University and I am focusing my final senior project on designing for busy diabetics who are on-the-go and away from home during the day.

I would love to design a product that would help this user group manage their diabetes and reduce the frustrating complexities that interrupt their busy day. Issues to focus on are dietary complexities, insulin management, portability and lack of public info and awareness

With that, I would like to start an open ended discussion to gain information and inspire new ideas. Feel free to share past ideas, experiences and complexities that made you think “if only I had a …” or “They should make something that ……”.

My goal is to help the diabetic community by developing a useful product or system, any advice or input would be much appreciated!

2 replies

echowit 2011-03-25 21:20:47 -0500 Report

Collecting, recording and analyzing the darned data is the buggaboo to decent management of D. There are some neat toys out there and some of us have some whizbang spreadsheets etc.. but keeping it all coordinated and communicable can be very tiring, emotionally at least.

Add a cholesterol problem or lactose intolerance, like I have, or some other complication(s) and it goes way past tiring.

Step 1. Establish, along with the food, health, retail, e-mobile and other industries and agencies, an interface spec or standard to faciltate data acquisition and commincation concerning one's BG state. For instance, barcoded nutrition labels, menues, etc.. to gather data as to one's diet. WIFI connects to exercise equipment, BP, heart rate and BG monitors. USB or WIFI to PC's, i-phones, ect..

Once a decent standard is in place we can use whatever means to record what we eat, how much of it we burn and how much we put on each hip. Then we or our medicos will be able to analyze our equally easily recorded state of health (BP, BG, Weight, heartrate etc..) in terms of said input (pun intended) data, using whatever tools and toys are available and easily communicate results to whomever in whatever form.

(OH, and I want mine in the form of a Dick Tracey wrist TV-Phone with the BP, BG and Heartrate inputs built into the wristband.)

Just kidding! The problem now is many of the toys avaiable are standalone or at best only communicate with "their" software or some sister device. Two arguements against standalone or OS-proprietary devices. 1, e-techologies, especially in new fields such as you are entertaining, tend to develop faster than the life of the toys produced to utilize them, creating a lot of e-landfill and 2, even the best designers, excepting maybe you :), can't build the perfect single product for everyone so somewhere, sometime, someone will be looking at output and keying it back into some other system. OK, maybe they're cutting and pasting from one window to another but it's still a possible data corruption point.

Communcation standard first, then bring on the toys!!

Now, aren't you sorry you asked?

Seriously, I do wish you well,
aka echowit@aol.com small

JMoyerDesigns 2011-03-26 11:04:24 -0500 Report

Well Larry, I definitely am not sorry I asked and I appreciate the detailed response.

You address many issues. To come up with an entire user interface for a handheld device that let's you record, track and analyse data and have it connect to a network of some kind is a daunting task. This would be difficult to justify as my final project concept since I wouldn't have the means to make a "working" model or prototype of it. BUT a universal communication system that can connect to the interfaces of restaurants, grocery stores and fitness facilities would be a great additional proposal to the product I end up settling on.

The busy diabetic is the user group I chose because it keeps things a bit narrowed and easier to manage in a design project. User scenario: A diabetic who gets up early, needs to prepare for a 9-5 job, and must manage diabetic complexities away from home for long periods of time. Such complexities can include keeping insulin at a proper temp, portability of diabetes management supplies, maintaining a safe diet with confidence and the ability to conveniently check and monitor blood sugar.

Before settling on a handheld tracking device or a neat temperature controlled backpack, I need to make sure I am aware of all the complexities that are involved with this user group so that my main product concept can be well justified as a useful product.

Again, great response! Communication is a very important issue. I hope to also include a proposed series of symbols for food products to communicate what foods should or shouldn't be consumed by people with certain dietary intolerances (such as diabetes and lactose intolerance). Another additional concept could be an identification card that includes data about one's intolerances which can be scanned and used universally.

I'm mainly trying to familiarize myself with my chosen user group, more responses would be much appreciated.