With international design teams in both the UK and China, Industrial Design Consultancy (IDC), used its unique cultural design experience to develop the G3 sleep apnoea device for Chinese medical company, BMC. In China, BMC is a leading manufacturer of medical devices in Chinese markets, but the company was keen to target global markets and turned to IDC to help develop a new product with international appeal.
A key part of the brief was to find ways to improve the user experience and develop a better industrial design to make the product more visually attractive so it could compete on a global scale. The team started by exploring the existing product and researching competitor products around the world. As well as this, IDC designers investigated user environments and identified potential trends for the future of these devices.
From these usability studies, IDC realised a key area for improvement was the humidification system, which offered a great opportunity for simplification. The device relied on patients refilling a water tank to humidify the filtered air, and this meant designing a solution that minimised spillages and was convenient for the user. The process was made more challenging as the team had to develop the industrial design around BMC’s existing engineering. The team looked at different device configurations to develop a design which made it easier for patients to fill and reconnect the water tank. A solution that opened the whole lid was devised to minimise spillage. As well as this, a clever spring-loaded heater plate connection was developed to make the connection fail-safe.
IDC industrial designers also redesigned the visual appearance of the device to create a more sleek and stylish image. As the device usually sits on a bedside, it needed to be discreet and familiar, without appearing like a medical device. The team took inspiration from compact hi-fi devices to create a product that looked high-tech and fitting for a bedside location.
Models and prototypes were made throughout the development to prove the principle and BMC is delighted with the final product.
"This has been a fantastic project, working alongside BMC's development team to create a product that really addresses patients needs,” says IDC Project Manager James Coleman, "it demonstrates the benefits of our user-focused medical device development process.”