The Occuity Indigo - The importance of design.
Design. We all know it is important. Great design in advertising can make the difference between something catching your eye and capturing your attention and you, passing it by without a second thought - ultimately failing in its goal of making you aware of the product or service it is promoting. Likewise, great product design can make the difference between products being a joy to own and use and something you are proud to show off, or, being a purchase you regret. With great design, companies can build products people love and brands they believe in. When we talk about great brands and products, there are several that spring to mind: Dyson; Nike; and of course, Apple!
But just how important is it here, at Occuity?
In short, very. At Occuity, we care passionately about design because we believe that only by focusing on delivering exceptional design we will ultimately create a brand people trust and products they love to use.
The leading exponent of the importance of design for our business, is (of course) our Design Director, Daniele De Iuliis.
For those that know a bit about Daniele, this will come as no surprise, because he was a part of Apple's world-class industrial design team for 27 years and left behind a legacy of iconic products that helped change the consumer electronics world forever.
From his creative base in San Francisco, we were able to find an opportunity to talk to him about his design ethos, the process of creating the concept designs for the Occuity Indigo (our non-contact, glucose meter) as well as reflecting on his shift from working on global consumer devices for a world-renowned brand to a comparatively small medical device company.
From an industrial design point of view where have you drawn your style from and what was the inspiration behind the design of the Occuity Indigo?
Before starting to define what the Occuity Indigo should be, my first thought was actually rooted in what I didn't want the device to 'be' - I didn't want it to feel or look like a medical device.
The reason for this, is that I wanted to reduce the stigma sometimes associated with these types of products and how they are used. I had personal experience of seeing young children having to use outdated finger stick devices that were cumbersome, painful and unpleasant to use. I noticed how this affected them, it was something they were uncomfortable, almost embarrassed about. This experience and thought informed many of the design decisions both formally and from a usability perspective.
When we were developing the design concepts, we focused on ideas that would make it easy to use and carry. This necessity drove many of the decisions around the form, which is reminiscent of a chunky pen; a vessel for the cutting-edge technology inside. We felt that the familiarity of this form would help make it more approachable. The lack of a visible display or buttons, and the desire to protect the optical components when not in use also helps create a sense of mystery around the product as a new way of taking a glucose measurement. Once the top is deployed by depressing it, an element of surprise would greet the user as the optical system slowly reveals itself - primed for use - and is then enhanced by the display which magically illuminates through the aluminium body.
A proximity sensor would inform the system to capture a reading when in range, providing gentle audible feedback once captured.
Can you explain what the design process entails when working on an early-stage design such as the Occuity Indigo? It was important to showcase this new, exciting and very sophisticated technology in the form of a solution that clearly highlights the benefits through the embodiment of a single device. The portability, ease of use, the distinct lack of consumables to both carry and dispose of, all contributed to a form that is both simple and essential. By establishing a design direction that benefits the user and distils this sophisticated technology into something more easily understood by the user, we could better focus our engineering development moving forward. In your opinion how will the Occuity Indigo be a game changer for those living with diabetes?
The promise of Indigo is the reason I joined Occuity and it's what keeps me very focused on this journey. This technology has the capacity to dramatically affect the quality of life of people living with diabetes. It is incredibly exciting and humbling to work on. The idea that you can easily take a pain-free measurement of yourself or a loved one, young or old, is most definitely a game changer. What are the most significant developments of the Occuity Indigo’s design since your first concept sketches? We continue to make headway in the development of the various technologies that are the underpinnings of Indigo which I wish I could share with you today… Answering these questions has forced me to look back at some of the initial thinking for Indigo and I am pleased that those thoughts still make sense today. Having previously worked in the consumer devices industry, what has the biggest shift/difference in the design process been now that you are in the medical devices space? I haven’t changed the process by which I work and try to solve design problems; what has changed is the subject matter. The design of medical devices brings with it a unique set of challenges which I initially found a little frustrating but that has more to do with the understandably strict regulations for medical devices. I am grateful that I now better understand the challenges of getting such devices officially approved. Designing medical devices certainly taps into my experience as I continue to care deeply about the small details, focusing on them to ensure they are right. I am a big believer that the design of our products will be integral to the success of the business. The dedication and passion committed to the design of Indigo are equally shared with the other projects we are developing including PM1, our first product to market. Although a specialist piece of equipment, designed to be used by professionals and therefore very different to the Indigo, we knew it was important to focus on delivering a product that was exceptional. Our approach was no different with a goal to create a product that delivered our new technology in a way that was easy to understand and a pleasure to use for both the operator and the patient. In an industry that can sometimes appear to focus solely on results, we felt it important to focus on a broader set of values beyond great results; the experience of the product from both the clinician and patient perspective, which includes the look and feel, how you use the device and how easy it is to understand the results. We have spent a great deal of time ensuring that the PM1 is the best it can be going as far as developing our own bespoke plastic resin for the body of the device. I believe that ensuring Occuity's range of professional products are exceptionally well designed will support the long-term development of the brand, and help us build a reputation for quality products which can be trusted to deliver. Ultimately this 'brand value' will support the future success of our other products, such as the Indigo, when we enter consumer markets. Since joining Occuity back in 2019, what has been the most exciting thing to witness to date? There have been so many, from the technology and engineering breakthroughs to seeing the response from customers when they first see and use PM1. I visited the UK office in June for the first time since February 2020 and meeting the entire team was both a delightful and exciting. To learn more about the technology behind the Occuity Indigo click here