DiabetesMine Design Challenge - Past Winners

#WeAreNotWaiting | Annual Innovation Summit | D-Data ExChange | Patient Voices Contest

Our 2011 Design Challenge Winners

A huge thank you and congratulations to all who participated in our 2011 open innovation contest! Yet again we feel this effort is an example of “crowdsourcing” at its best — culling the brightest concepts from across the community to help improve life with diabetes.

Jeffrey Brewer, then President and CEO of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), stated:

“This contest has created a great deal of buzz within the diabetes industry, really helping to push the evolution of medical devices.”

We’re very proud and excited about that.

This year we received nearly 100 submissions — dozens of those from university students, studying Medicine, Entomology, Nutrition, Industrial Design, Interaction Design, Product Design, Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Interactive Media, Architecture, and more. We had many more international entries this year than ever before! We also saw lots of participation from medical professionals and entrepreneurs at startup companies around the U.S. And there were many researchers, patients and parents involved, too. Kudos to all!

Participating educational institutions included (in alphabetical order):

  • Academy of Art University
  • AUT University, New Zealand
  • Brooklyn College
  • Carnegie Melon University
  • Fanshawe College
  • Georgia Institute of Technology
  • IED (Instituto Europeo di Design)
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Northwestern University
  • Oslo School of Architecture and Design
  • Pune University, India
  • University of Brasilia
  • University of Cincinnati
  • University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
  • University of Limerick
  • University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Bucharest
  • University of Pennsylvania / School of Medicine
  • VSMU (Vitebsk State Medical University) in Europe

Once again, quite the nice lineup!

The challenge for our Judging Team each year is to balance the sometimes competing concepts of “great design” versus “innovation.” How do we rate aesthetics over functional feasibility of an idea, and its real potential to come to market soon? And what about breadth of impact: Do we honor a great solution for a small niche, or look only for things that broadly impact as many people’s lives as possible? Our solution in the last years has been to split the Grand Prize awards into three rough categories that span the gamut of these concerns.

We had so many stand-out entries this year that we’re adding two honorable mentions as well. Be sure to read all the way to the end of this post.

Without further ado, I am pleased to announce this year’s winners:


{Prize package: $7,000 in cash, plus complementary consulting with IDEO Design Health & Wellness experts, and one free access ticket to the September 2011 Health 2.0 Conference}

Pancreum is a futuristic modular three-part “wearable artificial pancreas” that takes the combination of tubeless insulin pumping and continuous glucose monitoring to the next level. Its creators have also added a third component that delivers glucagon as an antidote to low blood sugar. The “brains” of the system reside in the Bluetooth-enabled CoreMD, designed to “create a flexible, open platform, and common architecture design that would allow for medical devices to be more affordable than what is available in the market today.”

The judges agreed that Pancreum is an awesome futuristic concept. One noted: “It deals with major design flaws in all of the current pumps and is the first design I have seen that brings together a dual delivery system along with CGM in an integrated and turnkey fashion.”

We’re looking forward to learning more about how the delivery of insulin and glucagon subcutaneously is achieved. The good news is that Pancreum appears to be already in development, and certainly has the potential to have real impact on people’s lives with diabetes.

Congratulations to electronic and software engineer Gil de Paula and his team at Pancreum, LLC, for their winning design!

BLOB is a small, portable insulin-delivery device unlike anything we’ve seen before. It can be carried in a pocket or worn on a neck-chain, and even incorporates a coolant for those who live in warmer climates.

The judges felt that this was a simple, elegant solution to a real-world diabetes problem: schlepping your insulin around and injecting it discretely.

In particular, it would be useful for type 2 diabetics who take set amounts of insulin — even as a possible alternative to the simple patch pumps being developed for that market. Why wear something adhered to your body all time if you could serve the same purpose with these little, pocket-sized “blobs”?

Congratulations to designer and type 1 diabetic (from Uruguay) Lucianna Urruty for her innovative thinking!

diaPETic impressed the judges by bringing the engaging elements of gaming into a young person’s diabetes world. It is an iPhone/iPod touch application that helps a glucose meter to “acknowledge the user as a human being.” It’s currently designed specifically for teenage girls, but other characters could easily be created for boys and younger children, etc.

The application works a bit like the popular WebKinz and Club Penguin sites for kids, but combined directly with diabetes management: the user creates a pet avatar that interacts with them to encourage glucose testing and suggest strategies for control. Users gather points that can be redeemed for “accessories” for their avatar. The fun is in “unlocking” new items, and your avatar can morph into a new animal over time.

The judges felt that this app embodied an impactful idea to motivate behavior change using the latest interactive technologies. It is spot-on with key health trends: the importance of acknowledging patients’ psychological needs, creating truly engaging consumer-oriented tools, and honing in on behavior change — which so many companies are struggling to address now!

Congratulations to designer Emily Allen on this winning concept!

Now, on to our category winners:

Most Creative Idea

{Prize = $2,500 cash}

Your votes selected Colored Tubing, an idea that’s drawn from colored drinking straws! What if pump tubing also changed color when insulin passed through it, so that PWDs could easily detect clogs or air bubbles?

A few years ago, we had two entries suggesting colored insulin for similar purposes, but the idea of tubing that changes color is actually more practical. Plus, “We need more color in the solutions for this disease,” according to patient-judge Bernard Farrell.

Congratulations to D-Mom Molly Johnson of Somewheretheresacure.org for this original idea!

(btw, our CDE judge Gary Scheiner has some in’s in the industry and would like to push Molly’s concept further “up the food chain,” as it were; cross your fingers.)

Kids Category Winner

{Prize = $1,500 cash, entrants ages 17 and under}

Our kids’ winner this year is Rapid-Absorbing Glucose Patch, a transdermal glucose patch that makes it easy to swim or do sports without worrying about carrying emergency sugar in case of hypoglycemia. Its creator Stefan P. apparently likes to swim at the beach, as do we!

Stefan lives in Washington state and just turned 14. He was diagnosed a few years ago at age 11. He plays on a year-round soccer team, and and usually uses PowerAid to avoid and treat lows during sports. “But I had the idea it would be nice to have (the glucose) right there in a patch, like a nicotine patch, especially when you’re swimming because you can’t carry anything with you then,” he explained over the phone this weekend. “My dad helped me research it over the internet, and we found out they’re working on these fast-acting skin patches for medicine.”

On his idea specifically, Stefan explains: “You could activate it by pulling out a plastic pull tab, like on initial use of a phone battery pack. This could avoid painful shots of glucagon, and if swimming, it could potentially save someone’s life. And that’s what I think would help make diabetes easier to live with.”

Congrats to you, Stefan! And best of luck in the 9th grade 😉

Community Honorable Mention

The community also gave a nice nod to Hanky Pancreas, a series of fashion accessories for women who wear insulin pumps or CGMs. These definitely address the psychological side of living with diabetes, especially the issues of self-consciousness, self-esteem and social acceptance. They can make diabetes technology more fun to live with — right now! We understand that a men’s collection is in the works as well.

Congratulations to designer Jessica Floeh!

Judges’ Honorable Mention

Our group of 10 judges would also like to recognize Sanguine Diabetes Manager as a “best-of” submission in the diabetes data management arena. This clever program represents data in a much more user-friendly way than we’ve seen before, and stresses interoperability of data as a key tenet. We’d love to see these concepts integrated into existing logging programs if possible. Maybe Sanguine’s creator could join forces with SweetSpot.com or something similar?

Congratulations to Interactive Media major Damon Muma!

Share this article