Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death and disability in the world. D-Heart helps identify cardiac complications and allows physicians to make accurate and timely diagnoses. It also makes daily life easier for cardiac patients, who no longer need to make regular, time-consuming trips to the hospital. At 16, co-founder Niccolò Maurizi was hit by myocardial infarction. Today, he is a trained physician and medical researcher. Together with his college roommate Nicolò Briante, he founded the start-up D-Heart in 2015 by him. The team came to us with a rough prototype of D-Heart and an app, but they needed the skills of experienced designers to realize its full potential.
To bring the idea to market, the start-up required various kinds of design help, ranging from product design to digital and graphics. Instead of having to employ several agencies along the way, D-Heart worked with one dedicated team that seamlessly combined service design, product design, graphic design UX, UI, and engineering skills. Our international team included professionals from several continents and was very aware of designing for a global audience. The result is a consistent design language across the product and app, aligning and connecting the physical and digital.
Starting with in-depth research, including personas, scenarios, stakeholder mapping, and user experience testing, we set ourselves in the shoes of the users – the patients, and the doctors and volunteers working for NGOs in developing countries that are also likely to use the device – and advocated for their needs throughout the design process. The product design of the device balances trust with friendliness. We wanted the look and feel of the device to signal that it is ‘easy to approach’ and not intimidating, if D-Heart is a complex medical device. The neutral colors were chosen to instill trust – the device is clinically tested and gives hospital-grade results.
For optimal functionality, we created a neck strap that could be easily put on, even by someone with limited mobility. We also designed a thermoform molded fabric case to protect the device when it’s not in use. The device needs to be easily transportable, small and light. It also needed to be robust to be able to withstand difficult environmental conditions. An innovative wireless battery charger embedded within the case charges the product when stored. It also has a built-in smartphone stand, since it’s not possible to hold a smartphone if using the device alone.
D-Heart features a new, innovative mechanism that allows the user to wind up all the cables at once, or one at a time, and in any order. The function is simple and intuitive to use, but complex to design and engineer. When developing it, we looked far and wide, e.g. to ski pass mechanics, before finally creating a solution that is entirely new.
Since every human body is different, a new, bespoke algorithm was developed to read the electrodes reliably and extremely quickly no matter the patient and their circumstances. We designed the interface using simple graphics to accommodate the user that may be anxious or in physical pain. Each screen displays just one command to make the testing situation as easy as possible. The user can submit the results to the telecardiology service, which is available 24/7, and get a result quickly from a certified doctor. It also has a calendar function and prompts users to do exams, and it stores medical records and past patient data.
The packaging features a box in the brand color orange and a simple white sleeve with all the information needed to immediately understand how to start using the product. It’s designed in six different language versions, to be sold in pharmacies and Apple stores all over the world.