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A 'Discommon' Approach to Medical Device Accessorizing

Butterfly Network expanded global access to imaging with its affordable handheld Butterfly IQ ultrasound device marketed for under $2000. Can a new family of accessories further ease and expand use?

For the portable Butterfly IQ ultrasound device, Discommon redesigned the device’s carrying case, charger, and holster (shown above). Image courtesy of Discommon.

Design engineering firm Discommon worked with Butterfly Network to redesign the handheld ultrasound device’s carrying case, charger, and holster for on-the-go medical professionals. The goals were to ease storage and to ensure protection of the Butterfly IQ during in transit, all with a sleek, cohesive design. For instance, the firm set out to develop a case design with “clean lines to match Butterfly’s aesthetic,” rather than using “traditional protective carrying-case elements such as utilitarian handles, bumpers, and clasps,” the company shared in a news release. “Impact-toughened polycarbonate and TPE” were selected and the case was created using 13 different injection molds.

“We fought against many normal plastics rules because everything here had to be slick, clean lines,” Neil Ferrier, head of Discommon, explained in the release. “It’s very hard to produce clean lines when you are also trying to keep the case super durable and protective — a little like saying, ‘Make a Jeep look like a Ferrari, but maintain all of its durable features. It’s tough.”

Discommon designed the case with a holder to suspend the ultrasound probe and with flexible TPU fingers built into the lid to keep the probe and other items in place. A “racetrack” slot around the probe and the connector ease cable management. The interior was crafted with minimal crevices to ease cleaning and sterilization.

MD+DI asked Ferrier how the design and usability of the accessories could influence potential users to obtain the device.

"I think the disruptive and innovative nature of the device itself is enough for anyone, but our job is to help build the supporting items for the iQ and make sure they respect the level of design and engineering effort that went into it,” Ferrier said. “A strong family of products that feel cohesive will certainly help draw in new users."

Regarding the usability of the holster, Ferrier said that “items get used if they are convenient and accessible; otherwise they have that tendency to sit in drawers. This sort of arms the doctor like a cowboy/girl of old [with] their ‘weapon’ right by their hand ready to be deployed. It offers quick access but also quick storage in a fast paced emergency environment where you may suddenly need your hands.”

Of the case (shown below), he said the “iQ is an exceptionally designed product and we felt the pressure on the case to match up to the execution that Butterfly achieved on their device. It couldn't ‘just’ be a plastic case. We feel like the case is mobile and sleek while also protecting the investment exceptionally well."

The experience was a unique one for Discommon. “This project with Butterfly Network was a defining challenge for us. We decided not only to design accessories with them, but also to engineer and supply them. We are extremely grateful for the support of Butterfly and we are excited to be a part of something truly revolutionary for the healthcare industry,” stated Ferrier in the release.

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