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Battelle scientists look to future of healthcare with Firstlook fetal monitor and smart bandage


June 4, 2004

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The disparate interests of engineers and artists don't normally intersect in the workplace, but at Battelle they do. At Battelle's Healthcare Products division, artists and engineers each bring their unique skills and viewpoints to design the healthcare products for the future. "It's an interesting and necessary, mix," said Larry Barbera, Director of Industrial Design at Battelle Healthcare Products and a 20-year veteran industrial designer at Battelle whose portfolio includes working for Apple Computers and Hewlett Packard. "When people think of Battelle they think of science, but there is so much more to making a usable product than just making sure it works," Barbera said. "Art and design hit the emotional qualities in people and influences their choices. Good design always makes the product experience more meaningful and positive. Design touches the human element in all we do at Battelle."

The intersection of art, design and technology is the focus of a recently-opened exhibit at the Wexner Center for the Arts called Mood River which was supported by a $250,000 Battelle grant. The Mood River exhibits some 2,000 contemporary objects and includes work by approximately 200 artists, designers and design firms from 12 countries.

"As a product development group, we have the huge advantage of being located within Battelle and having access to the proven and vast experience of engineers, scientists and researchers, thus enlivening the mix," Barbera said.

Battelle, recognizing the crucial interaction between design and science, annually challenges its industrial design and engineering teams in the Healthcare Products division to create concepts for the future.

This year's theme was "Future Visions in Remote Diagnostics," which yielded the following conceptual products: FirstLook: A fetal monitor that includes a personal ultrasound screen, heart monitor and the ability to e-mail fetal data to a doctor from home. It can also be used as an infant monitor after the baby is born. It's high-tech telemedicine at its best, but the hardware and circuits are hidden in a heart-shaped casing that is pleasing to expectant mothers.

E.N.I.G.M.A: Health-monitoring and therapy devices designed to look like jewelry. A person with diabetes could wear an earring that was embedded with micro-technology that would monitor glucose levels and administer the proper medication. SmartAID: This sterile, flexible bandage contains embedded sensors that can transmit vital information from a wound to emergency and medical personnel. It also could begin delivering medicine while the wounded person awaits treatment. This would be particularly useful in extreme accident cases where there are many victims and emergency responders must prioritize treatment. These three examples illustrate how interrelated design and function can be and reflects Battelle's Industrial Design group's belief that design influences almost every object in our daily lives.

Battelle develops new technologies, commercializes products, and provides solutions for industry and government ranging from pharmaceuticals and medical product development, to innovations for the automotive, chemical, and agrochemical industries. Battelle develops environmental and energy solutions for industry and government, and generates practical, technological solutions for challenges in national security, transportation, and health and human services. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Battelle has annual revenues of nearly $1 billion and more than 60 locations throughout the world.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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