AI Station

AI Station Q&A: Former Nike Creative Director Talks Medical Device Design

November 26, 2018 Dave S V3

We recently launched our AI Station™, a new docking system designed especially for emerging nursing tools to improve bedside convenience for nurses and lower costs for health systems. Our goal was to reinvent the “hospital cart”, which has traditionally been an afterthought in the world of medical devices. 

To help us achieve these ambitious goals we commissioned Dave Schenone, an iconic industrial designer who served as Nike’s Global Footwear Creative Director and Product Innovation Director for 20+ years, to create a vision for how a docking station could be designed and built. We recently spent a few extra minutes with Dave to hear how he used a career full of innovation to bring a sense of art to the otherwise mundane approach to device design.


EchoNous: Can you tell us more about your background in industrial design and why you decided to take on this project?

DS: Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, I had a front row seat to see Silicon Valley grow up and was heavily influenced by its burgeoning tech industry. Once I finished design school, I began my career at Xerox’s Advanced Research Center in Palo Alto, where the groundbreaking innovation going on around me shaped my approach to design. I went on to work at Atari, in the early days of the video game industry, which happened to be across the street from a small startup called Apple. Between these two companies we would often cross the street to share ideas, play video games, and discuss design and various aspects of innovation in our young industry. This is where I continued to hone my craft and saw the future of computers first hand. 

After my early start in tech, I leapt out of the computer industry when Nike was seeking a creative director. As a passionate runner and triathlete, this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. Over the next two decades I helped Nike establish their Innovation Process, hired more than 200 designers to the company’s team, worked first-hand with numerous elite athletes across sports, and helped implement the company’s involvement in multiple Olympic games.  It really was a job that had all the things I had dreamed about. 

Now I have moved into consulting as the time was right for something different in my career, beginning by helping cycling companies think through design and functionality of their equipment. It was about this point when I heard from EchoNous CEO Kevin Goodwin, a proven innovator in the ultrasound industry, who first asked if I’d ever designed any medical products. When I said no, Kevin said I’d be a perfect fit as they were seeking a completely fresh point of view. While I didn’t know much about medical devices, I knew with Kevin’s vision and openness to change, this would be a rewarding project and ran with it!

    

EchoNous: The AI Station has a different "look" than many traditional stands you'd find in a hospital. Can you talk us through your creative process that resulted in this new device? 

DS:  Given I hadn’t worked in healthcare before, I had to quickly ramp up on my baseline knowledge by talking directly to users, those folks in hospitals that worked with nursing stands on a daily basis. Working with the EchoNous clinical and sales teams, I thrust myself directly into hospitals, following nurses into patient rooms to watch how they used existing stands (EchoNous’ and others), how everything worked — or didn’t, and asked as many questions as the nurses would answer about the journey of these products. 

I did the same with biomeds, who are tasked with servicing these stands and have seen every possible repair come into their shop. With both groups of users we discussed things like why a cart had to remain so far from the bed (“because it is too high and doesn’t fit under”), ran through “what if” scenarios such as going down stairs, bumping into walls, or wheels catching on pant legs, and discussed what materials held up or failed over time. 

At Nike I learned how to talk to athletes to understand what issue with design and function they perhaps didn't even realize they had. This was very applicable to my work with these healthcare professionals. Just as with athletes, the nurses and biomeds I spoke to eventually would get to that “ah-hah” moment, where they realized they didn’t know why a stand was as unusable as it was, but rather “that’s just the way it is”. Here is where I knew there would be huge opportunities for innovation to address those gaps we discovered together through this process. 

Based on this feedback we began the design process by testing features, while ensuring tip-stability with various sized bases, handle length and location (What if you were pushing the cart instead of pulling it?), and probe placement to ensure cables were kept out of the way when not in use. 

Once key functionality features were identified, we set out to create a beautifully designed product that nurses could identify with and be proud to be seen using. Just as runner likes to be seen in a pair of brightly colored shoes, we aimed to create a stand nurses would be eager to get their hands on and help patients. 


EchoNous: Were there any special considerations in regards to the types of metals, plastics, and coatings you used in the design of the AIS? 

DS: Absolutely. When considering the materials we were going to use, I wanted the stand to be an elegant picture frame for the beautiful medical tools that it would hold — a blend of function and beauty not previously approached in this space. Through my initial research of related products I quickly noticed that everything else was just typically white, powder-coated (painted) aluminum, which easily chipped and quickly looked old and dated. We knew the AIS had to stand out, and the materials used — including their impact on look, feel, and durability — would help this product do just that. 

This began with the base, which is one die-cast piece. We opted for a very high quality casting process for the base — the same used in handheld mobile devices such as today’s modern smartphones or tablets — to ensure a smooth finish, free of rough bumps you may see painted over in other applications. This extra detail created a sleek, elegant base upon which we can literally and figuratively build the rest of the system on. 

Next, by not painting the center aluminum post, we provide both high functionality, but also a “raw”, industrial look that brought a fresh aesthetic feel and would be rugged enough for the hospital setting. Nurses will also notice we used all stainless steel accessories such as snaps, screws - no plastics or lower quality materials that will rust or corrode over time. 

Finally for the bins and trays we used renowned Tritan™ plastics, which are engineered for highly caustic environments, yet have a beautiful, smooth aesthetic  — aligning with our approach the rest of the AI Station. We arrived on Tritan after dunking various plastics in the same caustic cleaning chemicals hospitals use for up to a week at a time, to best evaluate which materials we should use. 

 

EchoNous: What most surprised you about the AI Station project?

DS: This project was one of the first post-Nike assignments I accepted and was quite interested to see if my design philosophy from Nike could transfer to a completely new business of medical products and working with mechanical engineers.  There were quite a few times I laughed at myself seeing the similarities between these two seemingly opposite industries and professionals.

Healthcare systems interested in an in-person demonstration of EchoNous AI StationEchoNous Vein or Uscan should visit http://echonous.com/en_us/contact  and visit product pages for further product specifications, images and videos.


 


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