Sync Think EYE-SYNC
Sync Think EYE-SYNC
Sync Think EYE-SYNC
EYE-SYNC is a portable neurodiagnostic device used to identify potential cases of traumatic brain Injury (TBI) / concussion. A set of cameras, electronics and optical components track a patient’s eye movements. Advanced algorithms quantify how well a patient’s eyes can follow and synthesize a visual target. Its head mounted display and hooded goggles fit on a wide variety of head shapes and sizes. Exterior housing was built to withstand rugged use in the military theater, on the athletic field and in other remote venues. Administration by a medical professional or trained individual makes critical information available in critical situations.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?
The portability of EYE-SYNC is a critical selling point. Use environments can range from military theaters to athletic fields to other remote locations. EYE-SYNC has to be robust and protective of delicate hardware, yet approachable and inviting to medical personnel, soldiers, athletes and others. EYE-SYNC’s core technology tracks the movements of a patient’s eyes as they follow a visual target on an internal screen. This core technology has a specific size that cannot be altered. Additionally, no ambient light penetration is allowable for the core technology to track eye movement appropriately. A specific distance must be maintained between the patient’s eyes and the unit’s cameras and lenses. Adding to complexity, EYE-SYNC must remain in a constant position in relation to the patient’s eyes and visual field during testing. The procedure is sensitive to movement and the test is disrupted if cameras cannot track the eyes from a constant position. The device needs to fit a variety of head sizes and shapes while putting cameras and core technology in front of each patient’s eyes. Minimizing overall weight and maximizing comfort were also critical factors to product success. While actual testing can take only 40 seconds, the placement, calibration and fitment can take up to three minutes. Nearly all critical components are placed in front of the face. As a result, optimizing the weight distribution over as much of the patient’s head as possible was critical to keeping the system in place and minimizing pressure points that could lead to uncomfortable wear.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
From the start, tool. focused on the user comfort aspect of this device. The client’s proof-of-concept model placed a good amount of pressure on the patient’s bridge of the nose or cheek bones – depending on the patient’s facial geometry. tool. immediately began to consider creative solutions to maximizing patient comfort through weight distribution, design and other methods. tool. took on the task of exploring perceptive affordances, visual cues that would guide users to intuitive operation of the device. Patients or test administrators can place the device on the patient’s head. The overall form, an integrated handle and the adjustment knob were critical touch points for all users – whether being tested or running the test. The issue of fitting the device to heads of all sizes and shapes was also attacked with some vigor. Ease of use, patient comfort and approachability drove our design explorations. Ultimately, tool.’s experience – from other projects – with a highly durable yet flexible material led to its integration into the EYE-SYNC on what has come to be called the “lobster tail” portion of the device. EYE-SYNC is not a high volume device. With an initial run of 40 units, tool. brought its engineering and manufacturing expertise to bear. We were able to guide the project into low volume production methods formerly unknown to the client. It was a joy to introduce them to new means of part production and system construction that had not yet been considered.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)
SyncThink had developed the core technology to design around and house. Their algorithms and software brought all of the patient diagnosis actions to the product. tool. was tapped for expertise in making the application of core technology more inviting, approachable and usable to all parties. We explored parallel products for medical, consumer and military use. Not only were aesthetics considered for possible visual cues, but tool. looked at the way users associated with these products. For instance, optometrist equipment inspired how faces might be guided into the hooded goggles. Military equipment, from aviator helmets to night vision goggles would inform the style of this product. The form was largely determined by the internals and human factors. Where practical, tool. provided visual interest with varying soft to hard surfacing. Multiple breaks in color and parts are another method of excitement that designers employed. We were certainly excited about the “lobster tail” portion. Initially, Sync Think requested that EYE-SYNC conform to specific military standards for ruggedness and IP ratings for ingress. Specific standards were relaxed, but tool.’s focus on keeping water and dust particles away from sensitive internals were omni-present. These insights stayed with the team and led to the realization of a robust product. CAD modeling saved time and energy, allowing communicate early and often with SyncThink. Verifying design and engineering intent while testing out features became quite important. This was accomplished through the creation of prototypes. The flex of the “lobster tail” was evaluated and adjusted in shape and material choices. Similarly, the face plate went through a number of iterations to come up with one solution to fit the majority of faces.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.)
TBI has been called the signature wound of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Additionally, concussions in sports – professional, collegiate, high school and youth – is one of the most hotly contested topics in sports medicine today. EYE-SYNC’s greatest attribute is that it enables nearly anyone to administer a quick, reliable assessment to determine if an individual requires further medical attention. It makes critical information available in critical situations. The decision to hold a soldier out of combat or an athlete our of play is a difficult one. While many TBI symptoms are outwardly visible, others are not. One of the perils around TBI / concussion diagnosis is self-reporting – relying on a potentially injured individual to self-diagnose while he/she may be in an impaired state. EYE-SYNC eliminates the guess work in diagnosis by bringing a trusted testing methodology to the places where it is needed most. EYE-SYNC is easy to use and understand. Affordances such as obvious touch points and simple UI remove operating confusion. The device was built to withstand the rigor of use outside the clinical environment. A tight fit around all sizes of heads was critical. A large dial in the back guides the user to tighten and loosen the fit. The nose was designed to blend all the aforementioned features outward over the internal focal box, thus completing the form.