Inspirationand products engineered under its influenceis the theme for the 1999 Medical Design Excellence Awards. When MPMN's publisher Canon Communications launched the engineering and design competition last year, designers, engineers, marketers, and CEOs from global device corporations and entrepreneurial start-ups shared enthusiastic stories of what inspired them to create their new medical products.
Through overseeing the awards program, I learned a lot about teamwork, how companies stimulate innovative thinking, and how ideas for the next generation of medical devices make it from sketch to working prototype to mass production.
Stuart Karten, whose Marina del Rey, CA, industrial design firm received an award for designing a speech processor and its accessories for Advanced Bionics (Sylmar, CA), says that since his firm works for a variety of industries it often brings ideas from consumer products into medical device design. "When we designed the speech processor, we wanted to walk the line between the seriousness of a medical product and the appeal of a consumer electronic product," Karten says. "We looked at a lot of body-worn electronic products such as Walkmans and we also examined medical products and combined details of both."
To stimulate creative thinking, Karten and his staff venture out on monthly field trips to hike or view art or architecture. "Often we look at nature for inspiration. When we developed a concept for a cable system, the design team used the human nervous system for inspiration," Karten says. "We also hold group brainstorming sessions to generate as many directions as possible for analysis."
For Karl Leinsing of Alaris Medical Systems (Creedmoor, NC), the challenge of designing a competitive disposable needlefree system inspired him to develop the award-winning SmartSite needlefree valve. He says that part of the impetus for submitting the device into the competition was to promote Alaris Medical Systems' new identity resulting from the merger of IVAC and IMED. He also felt that the innovative design of his invention deserved recognition and wanted to promote its existence in the market. "In its recent quarterly report, Alaris attributed the SmartSite valve as a key contributor to the company's growth," Leinsing says. In addition, he reports that demand for the product is such that Alaris is working to double its production capacity.
I hope you'll submit the product of your inspiration to the 1999 Medical Design Excellence Awards. To receive the competition rules and entry form, you can call the 24-hour fax-on-demand number at 800/588-8527 to receive it via fax, visit Medical Device Link at http://www.devicelink.com/awards to download the form, or call me at 310/392-5509, ext. 197.