Several MDEA finalist products seemed to be inspired by the iPhone.

April 1, 2013

3 Min Read
Medical Design Excellence Awards 2013: Finalist Products Refine Technology

The sleek design of Biolase's EPIC dental diode laser system is similar to that of Apple products, which half of U.S. households now own.

As the healthcare system increasingly embraces connected technologies that have already taken hold in the consumer market, medical device makers are also taking pains to make their products more intuitive and easier to use.

More than half of all households in the United States own at least one Apple product, according to a CNBC survey conducted last year, and makers of medical technology seem to be taking notice. Several 2013 MDEA finalist products seem to have been inspired by Apple’s design-forward products.  

“The iPhone and the iPad are so ubiquitous in our culture right now that everybody’s just comfortable using the technology, and [medical device manufactures] are leveraging that,” says juror Kris Kieswetter, senior director for innovation and strategic marketing at Kinetic Concepts Inc. (San Antonio), a maker of wound care products. 

The t:slim insulin pump from Tandem Diabetes Care features a slim profile and slick user interface.

Many of these electronics that rose to the ranks of the MDEA finalists did so thanks in part to slick user interfaces. Biolase’s (Irvine, CA) EPIC dental diode laser system for soft tissue surgical procedures, laser-assisted tooth whitening, and pain relief features a black and metallic design that evokes Apple’s aesthetic and functionality. Tandem Diabetes Care's (San Diego) t:slim insulin pump, a finalist in the rehabilitation and assistive technologies category, could be mistaken for an iPhone with its sleek design and intuitive touchscreen user interface. 

Masimo's iSp02 pulse oximeter piggy-backs on the iPhone, a product many healthcare consumers already feel comfortable with.

Masimo’s (Irvine, CA) iSpO2 pulse oximeter, a finalist in the over-the-counter and self-care category, is actually a peripheral for the iPhone and iPad. The device, used with an accompanying iSpO2 app available from Apple’s App Store, enables noninvasive tracking of blood oxygen, pulse, and perfusion index.  

“What we’re seeing as a general trend is that more companies are making an investment in the quality of the software user interface that’s built into their products,” says Michael E. Wiklund, a 2013 MDEA juror and general manager of UL’s human factors engineering practice (Concord, MA). “They’re looking less like oscilloscopes that are used by electrical engineers and more like a user interface normally associated with consumer products or Web sites, with hi-res displays, touchscreens, and good use of color to highlight important information.” 

The 2013 MDEA winners will be announced at June 19 at MD&M East

Jamie Hartford is MD+DI's managing editor. 

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