Ever notice that none of the pumps, meters, or new CGMs on the market are actually designed for kids? I mean with bold colors and super-simple buttons and big happy faces... You know, like Fisher Price on insulin?
Well, all that may be about to change. As part of the fallout on my iPod vs. medical design post, a 22-year-old industrial design student at Philadelphia University contacted me to say he's devoted his thesis to designing a set of diabetic devices for children. His name is Justin Siebel. He's had Type 1 himself since age 11. And the design work he is doing is pretty miraculous: Why hasn't anyone thought of making devices for children that are intuitive, break-resistant, and actually kind of FUN?
Remember, this blueprint-stage only, since Siebel's a student, but he is applying for patents on his way-cool concepts:
There'll be a two-part wireless pump, similar but designed to be smaller than the OmniPod, called the Magnatron. The magic is in the details: on the so-called Tosh controller, users will turn a little wind-up key on its head instead of digital menus to move through commands. The appropriate buttons will then appear on a visual screen with a pull-down interface. Here, a little mediator called the Gluru (glucose guru) will communicate simple but important messages to kids about their diabetes, like "you have constant high blood sugars in early evening." Neat!
In addition, the pump sensor worn on the body will be available in three size varieties -- 50, 100, or 300 units of insulin -- at increasingly less noticable profiles. It will also feature a removable soft cover shell to protect the unit during sports or roughhousing. Siebel would like to customize the cover with sports themes "to promote activity and exercise."
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He's also designing a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) called CoGuMo that will communicate wirelessly with the pump. Not a full closed-loop system just yet, but the ability to share information.
The last component will be a wireless viewing monitor for parents, using cell phone technology, so they can check in on their child in real-time. (Their unit won't have any dosing capabilities, just look-see)
Whether or not Siebel finds a company willing to bring his design in its current form to life, we are so on the right track here: a Web-Gen kid designing diabetes devices for his own community. (He used a computer game console as his inspiration.)
"The stuff they have now is all designed for adults... it's just too large-scale, and the aesthetics don't fit kids," Siebel says. "The interfaces are dry; children can't comprehend the information. This market has special needs: more intuitive interfaces for child use vs. adult use, and a way to communicate so the parent or guardian won't always be worried."
Wow, Justin, I can't wait till more of you guys grow up.