As you all hopefully know, the 2010 DiabetesMine Design Challenge is ON. We opened for entries last Monday.

I'm excited about community voting this year (y'all get to choose the competition finalists). I'm equally delighted to have such a wonderful panel of expert judges whose role will be to determine the winners from your list of Top 10 finalists.

A new face on our Judges' Panel this year — but a familiar one around here — is the famous certified diabetes educator (CDE) Gary Scheiner, author of Think Like a Pancreas. (I also just began working with him as a patient myself - so cool! More on that tomorrow.)  Today, Gary kicks off our series of brief chats with each of the Design Challenge judges:

DBMine) As a CDE,  do you find that diabetes patients really care about the design of medical devices?

GS) I'm lucky to work with patients who really do care about device design.  They're the type of cutting-edge people who realize that diabetes needs to integrate into their lives, and not the other way around.

Gary, you live with type 1 diabetes yourself, and are constantly hooked up to a pump and CGM system.  How could better-designed gadgets and programs potentially improve your own life?

I think some of it is psychological.  Doing the same thing with the same tools day in and day out becomes monotonous, and we tend to become lackadaisical about our care.  Keeping things fresh helps to maintain our interest, which allows us to keep our focus.

What advice would you give to an amateur out there who has a great idea for a diabetes tool?

Get seed money.  Lots and lots of seed money.  Bringing a product to market is an expensive process.  You can start out by entering and winning the Design Contest at DiabetesMine!

We're thrilled to have you as a judge this year.  Again as both healthcare professional and patient yourself, what would you most like to see materialize out of this contest?

I would like to see something with real practical value, not just something that looks/sounds cool.  I still remember the "Lasette" device that would prick your finger with a laser beam rather than a metal lancet.  Sounded great, worked terrible.  It was huge, hurt like heck and left the smell of burnt flesh in the air.  We don't need contraptions like that.  We need things that solve real problems.

Thank you, Gary. Practical is definitely top of mind.

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