People working on the CHI+MED project want to make interactive medical devices, such as chemotherapy drug infusion pumps, much safer and we’re interested in exploring many different ways of approaching that.
In this guest blog post CHI+MED researcher Gerrit Niezen (@gendor), a postdoctoral CHI+MED researcher from Swansea University writes about a workshop he ran on medical devices and Open Source Hardware at the recent ThingsCon conference.
Open Source Hardware makes it possible for people to ‘get inside’ the device, rather than this being something that only to the product’s development team can do. If a problem is found it becomes possible for people to fix it themselves, with solutions crowdsourced from and shared among the community of people working with that device.
Words, photos by Gerrit Niezen.
Engaging with makers and designers in Berlin
ThingsCon, a conference for hardware startups, entrepreneurs and designers, was held in Berlin for the first time on 2-3 May 2014. ThingsCon is a conference about the future of the hardware business, ranging from the Internet of Things, wearables and connected devices to 3D printing and new manufacturing techniques. The company behind ThingsCon is Knowable, an online platform for open hardware and startups to showcase their projects and collaborate on them. The event was hosted over two days, with the first day consisting of workshops and the second day of keynotes and talks.
I ran a workshop on Open Source Hardware (OSHW) and medical devices at the conference. The workshop explored the benefits and challenges of bringing open source hardware to the healthcare sector.
Open-source hardware is part of an emerging business model where all the design files of a product, including the circuit schematics, source code and physical design, are made publicly available under a license so that others can improve upon the design and share the improvements with the community. During the workshop participants discussed how and why it should be applied to the healthcare domain, for example improved safety and usability.
The first objective of the workshop was to give participants a better understanding of what the field of open source hardware and medical devices look like, with examples of existing devices and projects that they can contribute to. The second goal was to start building a community around the design of open medical devices, by having the participants design solutions together to solve specific challenges. An online forum to continue the discussion after the workshop was set up.
During the workshop a co-creation technique called Challenge Cards was used to collaboratively design a new syringe pump, by focusing the on the challenges and solutions and creating a story around these. Participants formed two teams, with one team writing down challenges and problems that may exist for the device, while the other team created a set of cards with solutions and features. After this initial card generation session, which lasts around 10 minutes, the challenge team starts the story by playing a challenge card. The solution team responds by playing a solution card that solves that problem, or create a new card if a solution does not exist. The challenge team gets a point if there is no existing solution, and the solution team gets a point if they already had a card that solves the problem.
Three undergraduate students from Swansea University who attended the workshop had the following to say:
This was an excellent activity as it encouraged out-of-the-box thinking and looking at hardware from a human perspective. It was also every inspiring to see how this type of hardware is moving to open source. More people can get involved making safer and more user-friendly medical hardware for the future of healthcare.
The slides from the workshop have been made available online.