Kathryn McElroy and Rachelle Milne
School of Visual Arts
The students have picked on a revolutionary development within diabetes treatment and created a idea for an interesting product / service ecosystem around it. However we felt that some technical issues have not been fully resolved and that some of the snap-on covers (although a good idea) appeared to be potentially dangerous.
beegeebee is a blood glucose monitoring system for children and parents that makes it fun and easy to manage diabetes. beegeebee (short for “blood glucose buddy”) starts with a continuous blood glucose sensor attached to the child's torso. This sensor sends real-time information to the buddy watch the child wears.The buddy face indicates blood glucose levels in an approachable and easy to learn way. It beeps or vibrates to indicate the need for an insulin shot or snack. Finally, the wristwatch relays data to a smartphone app for the parent or caregiver to keep track of blood glucose levels.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
We were originally challenged with designing a smart object on the topic of food. While brainstorming ideas and precedents on smart food gadgets, we traveled down the parallel topic of food-related diseases in children, such as allergies, intolerances, and diabetes. Through additional research, we found that childhood diabetes is a growing epidemic. 215,000 young people have Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes in the U.S, and within a three-year span, from 2005 to 2008, the number of American children with Type 2 diabetes doubled. New medical technology that we found tends to focus on an adult audience without addressing this growing need in the younger population. One technological development that we focused on is a continuous blood glucose monitor currently undergoing FDA approval. By harnessing its power, we asked ourselves: how might we create a continuous blood glucose monitor that is accessible and fun to children?3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
In a world overflowing with smart objects, what really needs to be smart? We asked ourselves this question many times throughout our process. Empowering children was very important to us as we moved forward. We wanted to design a product that would make it cool to have diabetes, or at least cool to have the device. We also decided to focus on value beyond functionality, especially through the personality of the product.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
Our stakeholder and audience is six to eight year old children, their parents, and their caregivers (such as their school nurse). We decided the most appropriate age for a diabetes care intervention is when the child is beginning school and spending more time away from their parents. We also took into account the ever-changing interests of children in this age group while we worked on the design. We began by examining diabetes management and researching current products used to facilitate care as well as emerging technologies. We generated ideas for products that would help make blood testing easier for kids, including a vampire-themed blood glucose tester, before learning that continuous blood glucose monitors are undergoing FDA approval for use in the US. We interviewed a few adults that were diagnosed with type one diabetes when they were very young and learned about their challenges and experiences with diabetes management. We brainstormed, sketched and iterated on different forms for the blood glucose monitor including stuffed animals, keychains, pens, and backpacks. We decided on the wrist watch form because it is constantly on the child’s body, is harder to lose, and is easy to quickly check and read. In the design phase, we settled on a slap-bracelet band, with the potential for a snap, and injection-molded faceplates and housing for the electronics and screen. We also designed and coded an interface prototype to test the buddy watch animations and sounds, as well as users’ reactions. Our next step will be user testing with age-appropriate children and their parents.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
The value of beegeebee is in its system of connected information and the empowerment, learning, and acceptance of the diabetic child. The real-time tracking of blood glucose levels gives the parent and caretaker ease of mind and security while keeping them informed of the children’s choices and safety. Enabling a child to take ownership of their diabetes care is important. We designed the beegeebee to facilitate this empowerment through personalization of the buddy watch. The watch has a character and personality uniquely tied to a variety of interchangeable faceplates that can easily change with the child’s moods or trends at school. The personality also indicates blood glucose levels in an approachable and easy to learn way through a range of cool to warm colors. At a young age, kids want to fit in, and being different can make a child feel alone. Our goal was to create a system that makes children feel special and empowered, helping to ease the transition into life with diabetes.