The culture of the project
How Esaote's user-centred approach works
According to science-fiction writer Bruce Sterling, designers are in charge of the gap between the objects of the status quo and the objects of the future. Design is a complex approach that sees six key points in industrial design, summarised by Henry Dreyfuss as safety, usefulness, maintenance, cost, quality and appearance.
All technological transformations come with great responsibility: we need to know how they will make their way into people's habits, how they will change people's quality of life, and what new constraints they will impose on them. In Esaote's innovation process, the design is understood to be part of the culture of a project and has always represented a fundamental driver.
The user-centred approach linked to "design thinking" methods are essentially developed in three phases: observation, ideation and implementation.
Let's take a look at these three phases in some of Esaote's projects.
Listening to end users and conducting research directly in the environments in which the product is used make it possible to identify the problem that needs to be addressed. For example, in the case of the Appleprobe, an analysis of the effects of the transducer's traditional "pen" grip in everyday use on various machines revealed that doctors run a high risk of joint diseases in their careers, including carpal tunnel syndrome (identification of the problem to be solved).
In the case of Mylab™9, observations of diagnostic activities in a clinical environment have made it possible to interpret the need for operators to have greater manoeuvrability in their work space and to be able to adapt the keyboard and monitor position to the various examination methods. An analysis of the workflow has also made it possible to reduce the number of operations that the doctor must perform for each individual exam.
Observational techniques include direct interviews with ultrasound specialists and physicians, movement analyses, eye tracking, digital human modelling (DHM) and iterative simulations, and focus groups on mock-ups and prototypes.
This is the phase in which we aim to develop various ideas and come up with alternative solutions to the same problem. In the case of the Appleprobe, after comparing various possibilities, we identified that it is possible to maintain the natural position of the hand with a grip centred between the index and the middle finger, which supports the palm in a natural way without forcing the hand.
In the case of Mylab™9, we conceived a particularly compact design, in which the operator can reach every single area of the interface with simple and natural movements.
Every part of the apparatus moves independently, guaranteeing great flexibility of use.
This is where prototypes of the given idea are created, allowing it to be tested and evaluated. The palm grip prototype that later evolved into the Appleprobe was presented to both doctors and the marketing team in a bid to obtain feedback from a usage point of view and in terms of adhering to the needs of the market, and the market's capacity to perceive the product to be an improvement in terms of fulfilling these needs.
Today, the Appleprobe can be used either with the innovative palm grip or with the traditional "pen" grip. The product created based on the culture of the project has to be a synthesis between technological advancement, in the sense of using achievements in research to improve the experience, and acceptability, in the sense of overcoming the natural resistance to change of those who are having to change their habits.
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