While Apple is touting their new iLife, I'm positively tickled to announce that an alternate organization on the cutting edge of consumer design has taken up my challenge to Steve Jobs to develop a diabetes management device that blows our socks off. In terms of sleek design and unprecedented ease-of-use, that is.
The company is San Francisco-based design agency Adaptive Path, a small but creative powerhouse that's accomplished some eye-popping redesigns for the likes of Blogger, Flickr, Crayola, Cathay Pacific and even the United Nations.
They first contacted me back in June with this note: "We were so inspired by your blog posting that we have put together a small team to work on your challenge." I thought it might be a joke. But a month later, I was invited in for lunch and a preview of their research. What greeted me were walls and walls of white board, covered with scribbled phrases and dozens more post-it notes with even more scribbled phrases, all about the hassles of living with diabetes: the numbers, the frustrations, the many inconvenient and incompatible devices we're expected to use. There were also dozens of pinned-up photos of PWDs giving testimonials -- holding their devices, jogging, laughing, injecting, changing infusion sets. I was almost taken aback at the sheer amount of "homework" the firm had already done. I gave them my two cents about how we'd all kill for a smaller, sleeker control system that actually looks and feels good.
The resulting design was announced today (!), just a short while ago, at a national event called User Experience Week 2007 in Washington, DC.
At this point, the Charmr is a prototype for the future only, but what a concept!
The "Charmr" itself is an iPod-styled controller unit for a combined insulin pump and continuous glucose monitor system.
Designed expressly to be "fun, small, flexible, and cool," the Charmr actually has the look of a combo iPod and USB memory stick. You can choose where to wear it -- on your wrist, on a keychain, or on a cord as a necklace. Downloading both your glucose trends and insulin dosing data is as easy as plugging the USB port end directly into your computer.
The insulin reservoir for the "patch pump" and sensor for the CGM are set on your body together in a single soft, skin-colored shell. It's wireless and waterproof, and delivers on the "looks good and feels comfortable" imperative, Adaptive Path promises.
I know, I know: promises, promises...
But all the technology they're forecasting already exists today. Now all we need is some established-yet-forward-thinking pharmaceutical company to invest in making the Charmr dream come true.