My final year major project for last year (2013), was a Hypokit Injector. I’ve begun to work on it again for competitions and my portfolio, and seeing as I no longer have constant access to the feedback of experienced designers, I will be uploading my progress for both feedback and motivation.
A HypoKit Injector is an emergency, life saving device that is used to administer Glucagon to a diabetic suffering hypoglycaemic shock.
This occurs when they take too much insulin or forget to eat after taking insulin, causing them to fall unconscious due to the rapid drop of blood sugar. Death can occur in a timeframe of 15 minutes from collapse, and Glucagon hormone can take up to 10 minutes to take effect.
Ill upload the most important findings to outline the development so far. CLICKY to see everything so far.
There is only one HypoKit type available globally. This consists of a separate syringe (containing water) and vial (containing glucagon). Glucagon is not stable (usable by the body) for more than 10 minutes in liquid form, and must remain in dehydrated powder form until immediately prior to injection.
My experience from using the Hypokit was not positive; I was slow, made several mistakes and struggled to understand the instructions, even though I was fully cognitive, had researched the topic, and was not panicking. The current device is relatively primitive, and I couldn’t imagine needing to use one quickly and in an emergency, without prior medical experience, and possibly without having ever heard of a HypoKit Injector before.
The Research (Sorry for the wall of text)
The design needed to be universally understandable and usable as easily and quickly as possible. The user should not be able to make mistakes.The viewpoint of the project was to revolutionise the HypoKit from the old-style syringe and vial to an easy to use, all-in-one system that suits the standards of modern medicine.
The initial stage of research revolved around current technologies and identifying the most functional route of administrating the medicine. The current HypoKit is the way it is because of the instability of Glucagon in liquid form. Non-aqueous Glucagon was found to be an alternative to the dehydrated product, and is permanently stable in liquid form, meaning no mixing. However, the technology is currently in its own research stages, and is not currently feasible for the HypoKit. Dehydrated Glucagon hormone was concluded to be the only available option for a HypoKit Injector, and would require mixing. Alternative methods of administering Glucagon directly into the bloodstream were researched, to explore the possibilities of nasal vapours, ocular liquids and transdermal patches. Oral methods of application were not considered, as Glucagon cannot be absorbed via the gastrointestinal system. Injection via needle was concluded to be the most efficient route of administration with the currently available pharmaceutical technologies.
The secondary stage of research focussed on an in-context user test with a dummy and distractions. 30 classmates were used as test subjects to find the primary problems with the device. A general overview was also conducted of the user requirements, competitors, medical product standards (Therapuetic Goods Act 1989), patents, medically-approved materials, production methods and disposal requirements. Sustainability was also researched, but was overshadowed by the strict medical standards of production and disposal. From a feasibility perspective, a market analysis, paired comparison and function analysis were also conducted.
User Test Results
The main difficulties found were:
**a)**Is too complex to be used easily, quickly and accurately while stressed and panicking
**b)**Is too small and fiddly to be used ergonomically with shaking hands or heavy breathing
**c)**Has an exposed needle, this is unacceptable in modern medicine due to the danger of blood-borne disease
**d)**Has inaccurate instructions that are both hard to read and hard to understand. They also consist of 4 steps, while the recommended maximum for an emergency device is 3.
eAverage Use Time: 60 Seconds
f Average number of mistakes: 3
This user test was conducted in a calm, studio environment, without a real unconscious body. The testers still found it difficult and slow to use and understand. This would be multitudes harder in a stressful emergency situation, where the user may not be cognitive.
Concepts were focussed on two primary aspects; Exploring how the device would be used with different technologies (even if they were not available), and affording a subconscious influence of particular motions to the user. The user needed to ‘want’ to twist/shake/bend etc. the device to mix the solution, and they needed to ‘want’ to stab the device into something to inject the solution.
Final Design (End of 2013)
I couldn’t get the embed code to work, so a video showing how the internal mechanism works can be found HERE.