Nurse: active glucose monitoring

Nurse is an All-in-one system for people diagnosed with diabetes that facilitates the monitoring of blood glucose through engaging users by virtual interactions in order to bring awareness to their health and promote proper care of their condition.

in this article, I am going to be exploring the research and process of my senior year industrial design Invention Studio project while attending the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Initially, the project began as a problem:

In the United States, every year about 73,000 amputations of the lower limb performed on people with diabetes because of complications of the disease.

There is has been a 47% increase in below-knee amputations from 1995–2020.

Nearly 50% of the individuals who have an amputation due to vascular disease will die within 5 years. This is higher than the five-year mortality rates for breast cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer.

Why is this happening?

Diabetes can lead to peripheral artery disease (PAD).

PAD causes your blood vessels to narrow and reduces blood flow to your legs and feet. Combined with neuropathy that prevents any sensations from being felt in the extremities.

Wounds or ulcers can form without the person noticing and because of the restricted blood flow, they do not heal and become gangrenous.

In order to understand the problem and its prevention, I conducted various interviews with subjects diagnosed with diabetes and medical professionals that treat the disease.

from the different sessions, I synthesized some initial insights.

  • ” Prevention starts with properly regulating blood sugar and adhering to the dietary regiment necessary”
  • User seems to lack the motivation to check their blood glucose levels.
  • Awareness of the condition is diminished when not having a structured system.
  • Engagement is very low on current products

These interviews and research led me to come up with the initial direction of my project:

I wanted to Design a device/system that aids a diabetic person to effectively monitor their blood sugar levels as a direct relation to the food they ingest in order to properly control the disease and prevent vascular problems from arising thus reducing the amounts of yearly amputations.

In order to understand the market better and the products that are currently being used I conducted market research regarding the most popular glucose monitoring systems.

By creating the product matrix above and observing reviews of each product i came across the following insights:

  • Current technologies can be small but often cannot be carried compactly because of other items necessary to conduct testing
  • No reward system exists in current technology.
  • User complains of current all-in-one kits being cumbersome.
  • Current technology does not consider food logging

Another important insight is that glucose monitoring technology can be categorized into two different methods:

Continuous Glucose Monitor

Continuous monitor:

Gives intermittent reading of blood sugar levels through a subdermal implant in users arm

users don’t have to prick your finger every test

No need for consumable strip

Have to change the subcutaneous sensor every 2 weeks.

“Prick test” glucose monitor

“Prick Test” monitor:

Gives immediate reading of blood sample user drops on a testing strip

Modern ones need a very small amount of blood

Users have to draw blood every time with a lancing device

initially considered painful/uncomfortable

Only gives mediate values thus patient must draw blood multiple times a day

After conducting more interviews regarding the preferred testing method I found that most people interviewed used the prick test yet wanted to eventually have the continuous glucose monitor installed.

this led me to the creation of my design criteria for the project:

With my criteria developed, I embarked upon the concept creation portion of the design.

The solution I chose to develop is what I call a“virtual pet” that a person could attach to their key chain or fit in a wallet that would notify them when they need to take a blood sample to measure.

The product would then document and analyze the food intake data with the blood glucose measurement and give you suggestions on what actions to take when it detects an anomaly.

Concept Sketches

From those original concepts, I downselected with help from feedback from some of the interview subjects and created four refined concepts

4 refined concepts + 3d printed models

I was able to 3d model and print out the four concepts and give them to the subjects for another session of insight and synthesized what I found in the matrix below.

Besides allowing me to downselect to a final shape, From the feedback received I came across the following insights :

  • Testers reported feeling that the width of the object is slightly too thick for their comfort and portability.
  • Testers that use the glucose slip method insisted that there should be a lancet system within/slip container in the product.

This led to further refinement into a system of two products:

The Lancet Model:

The Continuous Model:

At this point, I began researching and developing what technology is necessary in order to make this product a reality and created a detailed model with every component.

Interface

In order for the user to interact with the product, I developed the framework for an app.

The app on the phone is linked to Nurse and will log all blood glucose measurements as well as be the interface for the food login function.

the app uses the nutritional data from Under Armour Myfitnesspal database in order to allow the user to easily log all meals.

The analysis of the blood glucose measurement with the nutritional intake will allow Nurse to give personalized suggestions in order to attempt to better regulate the person's health

Manufacturing

The main body of the device is designed to be ABS while the case is high-density silicone in order to ensure a pressure fit of the device.

all of the modeled parts for manufacturing were corroborated by the use of the quoting service in Protolabs to check if the product is feasible for manufacturing out of plastic cast parts.

Usage scenario:

This short film was recorded in order to demonstrate a usage scenario of the final product.