Making respiration visible using electronic impedance tomography (EIT)
THE JOBThe electronic impedance tomography (EIT) developed by the Swiss startup company Swisstom makes it possible to measure the respiration in the lung in real time. Up to now, conventional imaging technologies such as CTs have only provided snap-shots. Swisstom approached UID with the idea to visualize these data for doctors and carers in the stressful environment of intensive care units in a way that enables them to quickly make the right decisions and to reduce long-term damage caused by artificial ventilation.
THE CHALLENGEHow do you design a user interface that provides all the important information against the backdrop of the sensory overload and hectic atmosphere of an intensive care unit without intensifying the situation? How do you visualize measurement data so that medical staff can read and interpret it at a glance?
DESIGN PRINCIPLESCan safety and functionality in medical engineering be combined with appealing design, or does a medical device have to reflect the gravity of the situation? We decided that both approaches are possible and complement rather than exclude each other. Therefore, we focused on the following design principles and design tasks:
reduction to the essentials
visualization of parameters
Reduction to the essentialsaddresses the sensory overload on an intensive care unit. The plain design style draws the focus on essential information. Depending on the work steps, necessary information is hidden or displayed, areas that are not in focus are subdued. For example when the electrode belt’s functionality is tested, only those electrodes with a bad or missing signal are displayed. Together with Swisstom we decided that highlighting the functional electrodes in green would be redundant.
Integrabilityenables Swisstom to display the visualizations on ventilators, too. Therefore, we attached great importance to the modular setup of the UI during the design process.
There are many devices and apparatuses in use on intensive care units, therefore it is all the more important to keep the people's needs in mind. Besides the medical staff, patients and their families get in touch with the user interfaces, which is why Swisstom and UID opted for a friendly design instead of a technical style.
At the core of the project is the visualization of parameters based on the data rendered by the electrode belt. Depending on the parameter, different information needs to be in focus. Quickly changing between various parameters enables the medical staff to gain a complete picture of the situation.