Thanks again to everyone who entered and helped promote this year's DiabetesMine Design Challenge. We had twenty-one great entries — each one a fresh idea for a product to help people live better with diabetes.
Congratulations again to grand prize winners Ethan Mullis and Max Wieder!
The panel of judges spent some serious time deliberating over all the entries, and had some specific feedback on each that we thought you'd all like to hear. We found that a number of submissions constituted great "dream tools" for diabetics, as in: excellent idea but not yet technologically or medically possible. So "practicality" of the idea definitely played a role.
Below, I have combined and summarized the judges' notes on each entry. Do you agree or disagree? Let us know your thoughts.
Beginning with the winners:
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Log for Life (winner) — Nice use of graphics, colors and icons to display and segment information. Moves beyond "just another online data logging site" with the IM connection to mobile phones. Offers great tools for empowering and patients to manage their diabetes better alongside their healthcare providers. Ease of use is key and this is a great start. Nice work!
Maximum Slide (winner) — Young designers in the making! A great idea to increase ease of use for carrying test strips, and also disposing of them. Kudos for building the disposal container right in. Nice job thinking through use, technology and prototyping. Vendors: how about snapping this one up and helping refine the aesthetics: how to make it more discreet, colorful, and/or cool-looking?
DiMo Meter for Kids (runner up, above) — An excellent idea, and very appealing design, but unfortunately the medical technology needed to support this just isn't available yet. That makes it science fiction for the moment. But we really liked the concept of color-coding BG notifications for children.
Break-Off Test Strips (runner up) — Great, practical, probably easy to implement. Could provide a tangible improvement to one's quality of life by making test strips easier to carry around. Vendors: time to think about new packaging options (new ways to protect the sensitive strips and label them)?
Diabetes Cards (runner up) — Physician-patient communication is a great area to address. We liked how the cards are color-coded and seem to have images. Further coding and hierarchy of information may need attention, and one issue is how to keep the cards up-to-date? Also, a take away for the patient would be helpful. Overall, a tool for "walking the patient through" their treatment options is a nice idea and good approach.
And all the rest:
New Generation of Glucometers — A good idea with huge potential. Luckily, lots of companies are working integrating glucometers into a whole range of mobile devices. Thanks for highlighting the need, but this entry didn't give us enough info on a specific concept for technology, integration, aesthetics, or usability.
Pelikan Sun — A good idea with some trade-offs in terms of a bulky device to carry around. The design definitely takes a step in the right direction in becoming more discreet and less "medical" looking. Since it's already a finished product, we wonder what other patients think about it? Glucose Tablet Skins — A nice, simple idea with lots of fun styles, but would have to be very cheap for patients to be willing to invest in "pretty sugar."
Compact Cases — Not an entirely new idea but a nice execution. The Velcro tab is a plus, but it could be built out with additional features like maybe a belt loop clip, or key ring?
Bio Flips — Again nice, but not really revolutionary. We love anything that makes diabetes care more discreet and more "fun." But we're thinking test strip disposal is really best when built in to the carry case or dispenser (like Maximum Slide).
Pet Pancreas — No practical application of course, but certainly goofy and fun! Hey, maybe with a little refinement, it has the potential to engage children as a learning tool. Or maybe some company could just produce these as little "give-away" promotional toys to make new patients smile.
Diabetes Together — Community and coaching are great tools for getting information and maintaining good diabetes control. However, this is a tricky and complicated system to implement, that will really require just the right tone, trust, support and great execution.
Touch Pad for Meal Selection and Insulin Dosing (above) — The popular voters loved this one! Even though the technology exists to put this all together, we (the judges) were not really sure it is a very practical idea. There is so much variability among patients, especially when it comes to glycemic responses to food types and portions. Cost versus benefit could also be a limiting factor.
Gluco Patch — A difficult one... it's a really good idea, but pharma companies have not been able to perfect transdermal drug delivery yet, especially of glucagon, a polypeptide that is not easily absorbed through the skin. As one judge noted, "there's a reason we don't have a product like this quite yet."
Bubble Glucose Monitoring System — Another great "science fiction" entry, i.e. a very futuristic idea, that's not at all implementable just yet.
CarbPen (above) — A useful idea, if technology can support it. But the "cup" at the front seemed strangely small for its purpose. Need to consider materials, discreetness and safety.
DiaPrinter — Good idea to provide benefit, but is a stand-alone printer just for BG data really pragmatic? What about more integration? Need to consider technology that is out there and how people would use the device.
Meter + iPod — A straightforward idea that looks small, simple and nicely colored, but not enough thought was given to form and technology. Could this provide a platform to create one device with all the functions of the CarbPen and DiaPrinter, too?
Wireless ER Service (above) — Great idea to alleviate the concerns of PWDs and parents of PWDs. Could be a partnership with existing services. Much more consideration would be needed on sounds, lights, distinction from other alarms, etc.
Lancelight — A really practical idea that would be very useful. Not enough thought was given to implementation, technology, batteries, size, etc., but hopefully some vendors will pick up the idea and start integrating little lights into their lancing devices and meters (other than FreeStyle, which already has!)
D Wallet — This is going to be kind of big and bulky to be a full wallet replacement. The safety measures are a good thought, but this entry just didn't go far enough by providing the unique implementation concept with materials and style.
From the judges:
"Enthusiasm and good ideas are important and definitely necessary, but they are just the start of a long journey. It's the ideas that are given more thought and implemented properly that actually an have impact on people's lives. The great ideas that are also accompanied by proper implementation details have the most promise."
Alan Johnson, on the winning Log for Life team, had this to say:
"Thanks for giving us this opportunity, and for pushing for better design for better diabetes products. While I'm not diabetic, my best friend and brother-in-law (Ethan) is and he's made clear to me many times how the typical thinking put into diabetes design makes him feel like he's a second-class citizen. Non-medical products live or die by their design, but diabetics are basically forced to take what they're given. You've done tons to change that thinking, and it's helping to give companies like ours a chance to play in a field that is otherwise dominated by giants."
For my part:
I am proud to be part of this creative community, and excited to provide a forum for diabetics to design for ourselves. Many Thanks again to everyone involved, and we'll see you at next year's Challenge!