Humanized Design: Charmr

I keep stressing in this blog the importance of product design with people in mind(not just users). Though I haven't taken up any project towards this end(the layout of this blog is bad, I know), I tried to present you some, the most recent one being

There was an open letter posted by Amy Tenderich in april this year. In her letter she pleads Jobs to design a humane product for those suffering from diabetes.
"This is where the world needs your help, Steve. We’re people first and patients second. We’re children, we’re adults, we’re elderly. We’re women, we’re men. We’re athletes, we’re lovers.
If insulin pumps or continuous monitors had the form of an iPod Nano, people wouldn’t have to wonder why we wear our “pagers” to our own weddings, or puzzle over that strange bulge under our clothes. If these devices wouldn’t start suddenly and incessantly beeping, strangers wouldn’t lecture us to turn off our “cell phones” at the movie theater."

Every word in the letter highlights the troubles that diabetics undergo all their life. Yet there is no elegant solution. The above letter from Amy triggered a why not we take it up, in Dan from AdaptivePath, a company offering product experience strategy and design services.

Thus was born the charmr project. Though the design is still a concept it is amazing to think to think of what can be done when the people who have to use the product are kept in mind while designing, than the fantasies of the development team.

In this post Dan talks about how, he formed a small team after the open letter from Amy. How they set themselves a target of 9 weeks to accomplish the design and the various insights that they gained over this period. Visit this link to read all the posts which detail the process and learnings of the team over the period of designing charmr. Must watch this video showcasing the usage of charmr. Here you can find the blue print of the experience during the interaction and visual design.

One obvious question that many of you might have is why a concept and not the product itself? Dan goes on to explain this over here.
"The reason is that while there could be some incremental changes to the pump/monitor system currently in place, those changes would make only a minor difference to diabetics. They wouldn’t address the range of issues we found in our research nor would they easily fit all the design principles we derived from the research. One might easily ask why it took Apple several years to design and develop the iPhone: because sometimes you have to wait for (or arrange) the technology and business opportunities to create a product that will disrupt the marketplace. Technology sometimes has to mature, and as many have rightly pointed out, the process for getting a medical device on the market takes much political and financial will."

Many a times the concept may need to wait for the implementation for various reasons like maturity of the technologies involved, the need for such a product, the socio-economic factors and so on. However, in my opinion that should not be used as an excuse from designing products which we can use, rather than we adapting ourselves to use them.

What is the lesson for us?

Diabetes is not the only problem that we face. There are hundreds of other issues that we face and the existing solutions are always wanting. What Dan and his team at Adaptive Path has shown is that, it is always possible to design products for the people.

What do you think? What are the areas in your life which can be improved by better designed products? Tell us at sodidi and our readers, we might as well start working on conceptualizing an idea, to make our lives better.

Charmr on ARS Technica

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