Luciana Urruty is a 26-year-old former textile designer and assistant professor in the School of Design of Uruguay. Yes, she lives in Uruguay and speaks Spanish and a little English. After 5 years of work, Luciana decided to quit the fashion industry in order to pursue something that gave her more purpose in life.
Diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 15, Luciana was inspired when she saw our contest video earlier this year. She examined the areas that she has the most trouble with in diabetes and conceived of the BLOB, a small, portable device that discreetly delivers insulin. Despite the language barrier, Luciana took some time to talk about her concept.
Here's her video entry:
DM) Luciana, can you tell us a little bit more about what inspired you?
LU) When I saw the video this year for the contest, and I thought it was really great and I started thinking about all the ways that diabetes impacts me and and how I manage it in my everyday life. I don't particularly have a problem with injections, but with carrying the pens. Many times I don't want to carry anything, like when I go out at night with friends, and I have to carry the bag with the cooler and all that. I wanted something small and resistant, because sometimes I want to put my pen in my pocket or in a bag without protection. And I wanted it to look nice!
I started testing with plasticine. I tried many diferent shapes, trying to see which was the best shape to minimize the injection gesture, while at the same time looking for a nice shape. I was thinking about what problems with the pen I wanted to improve.
What are your plans for the BlOB now?
The project is in the development stage. At this moment, I'm beginning to contact people here in Uruguay for technical support, such as chemical engineers and mechanical engineers. The design is completed in the formal and conceptual aspect, but I still need to develop its internal mechanisms and all the details involved. I also have to think about the medical standards, and that requires a lot of work!
What is design innovation, medical device design and health 2.0 like in Uruguay?
Well, we are quite slow in that area because we don't have much industry. But we have a lot of science researchers and technology researchers. There are some research centers, but I think we fail in the area of the prototyping the ideas. I was investigating on the web about that field in the USA, and there are many many industries that make designs real!
Have you talked to other patients about the BLOB design? What do you they think of it?
Yes, I've had a lot of publicity here in Uruguay, for having won this contest! Many diabetics have sent messages by Facebook and email talking to me about the design. Mostly just congratulating me, but also telling me that they wanted to have the BLOB. They like the functionality, I think, and the size, the optional colors. It's appealing.
I feel that BLOB is a friendly appliance. I like its ability to integrate into your life, to help you in an efficient way and at the same time be a sympathetic object. And it's cute. It's not scary like many medical objects usually are! It's not necessarily about people seeing the injection... just more comfortable injecting in public. I don't want us to hide! I just want to make the moment less noticeable. The BLOB minimizes the gesture. If you compare the gesture of injecting with a pen, BLOB is much less "big."
How do you envision people integrating the BLOB into their diabetes management?
People could have one for each insulin they use, in a different color. The amount of insulin that each BLOB can hold is not well studied, so I may change it in the development process. I choose not to put the number of units, but each "hole" of the circle is a unit of insulin. The BLOB does not replace all the appliances we need. We still need the glucose meter, but with this pen, instead of the normal one, you can reduce a lot of what you carry.
How did you come up with the name BLOB?
I wanted to name it GOTA, wich means DROP in Spanish. But Drop has other meanings in English, so I looked for synonyms and I found "blob." I had never heard that word before.
Do you think you'll pursue a career in medical design?
Maybe for some time. I'm really liking it now. At the Health 2.0 Conference, I hope to learn a lot, and in the meeting with IDEO, I hope to find better ways to develop the BLOB.
We look forward to meeting Luciana stateside, and watching what she does with the clever BLOB concept!