SONOLINE ANTARES MEDICAL ULTRASOUND SYSTEM
Medical ultrasound procedures require a dynamic interplay among patient, practitioner and machine. And yet, the hulking masses of medical equipment are often daunting to patients and difficult for clinical staffs to maneuver. Enter Siemens’ SONOLINE Antares system, which jurors praised for its lithe functionality and nonthreatening demeanor. The system’s main electronic box is rotated 45 degrees, giving way to a more open, free-flowing interaction zone. And, weighing in at a mere 406 pounds (fully loaded), the astute, orthorhombic configuration gives the Antares a footprint that’s considerably smaller than that of its predecessors.
Not only is the design more humane, it’s also cost-efficient. Whereas previous ultrasound models have slapped on ergonomic features as an afterthought, Antares was developed with usability as a prerequisite. “We took the approach that if the system could be more compact, smaller and lighter, and the interaction zones properly placed to begin with, then costly and unreliable articulation features could be minimized,” lead project designer Dean Bidwell explains. As a result, Antares’ monitor tilts and swivels; its front legs double as a footrest; and the wristrest slides back and forth during use. Adding stability, a central foot pedal brakes the sturdy front casters. Only height adjustment is necessary to accommodate users in a seated or standing position. Rounded with an almost droid-like countenance, Antares earned praise from the judges for both its utility and personality. “Balanced” and “logical” were among jurors’ comments. “It’s obvious that a lot of ergonomic study went into it,” Staufenberg noted.
WHAT KIND OF RESEARCH PREFACED THIS DESIGN?
The design group initiated a worldwide environment study to document how and where ultrasound is used in different cultures and markets. The results helped explain why our preceding product had issues. In some markets, such as Japan, the scanning environment may be no bigger than a walk-in closet.
WHAT TRIGGERED YOUR TEAM’S ABILITY TO THINK DIFFERENTLY?
People don’t conduct their lives in an orthogonal manner, yet products and systems are typically designed with a distinct front, left side, right side, etc., which forces the user to interact with each side independently. During our architectural study phase, we positioned foam-core representations of system components in 3D space. While trying to figure out how to access the variety of user features, Walston found himself standing at the corner of [a model] and easily accessing everything. This led to the 45-degree angled body and sector-shaped control panel. It was one of those wonderful “eureka” events you’re always searching for.
HOW WILL THIS DESIGN LEAD TO COST EFFICIENCIES?
The components of a mechanical system most prone to failure are moving parts. Reduce the number of moving parts, and you reduce the likelihood of mechanical failure.
HOW WILL ANTARES ULTIMATELY BENEFIT PATIENTS?
The compact, easy-to-access design of Antares allows sonographers to operate with more comfort and less fatigue, producing higher-quality diagnostic results that ultimately benefit patients.
(L to R) Andrew Walston, Kathi McLeod Kuebler, Stephen Hooper, Dean Bidwell
designafairs usa is a design consultancy with studios in Mountain View, Calif., and Issaquah, Wash. In the 10 years prior to designafairs’ November 2001 opening, the design team was an in-house department of Siemens Medical Solutions that focused on ultrasound products. Kuebler studied industrial design at the University of Washington while Hooper, Bidwell and Walston studied industrial design at Western Washington University. designafairs usa is part of the global design network designafairs, which also has studios in Germany.
CLIENT Siemens Medical Solutions, Ultrasound Group, Issaquah, Wash.
DESIGN designafairs USA, Mountain View, Calif., and Issaquah, Wash. (in-house design consultancy for Siemens): Stephen Hooper, manager of industrial design; Dean Bidwell, senior industrial designer, lead project designer; Andrew Walston and Kathi Mcleod Kuebler, industrial designers
MATERIALS|FABRICATION monitor, keyboard, control panel: injection-molded PC|ABS; electronics covers: pressure-formed Kydex thermoplastic; external structure: painted cast and extruded aluminum; transducer holders: injection-molded PC|ABS structure with Santoprene liner; wristrest: cast urethane with soft-touch surface application; OEM top mat: cast elastomeric urethane; bumpers: Santoprene
HARDWARE|SOFTWARE Windows PC, ProEngineer, Alias|Wavefront Studio, Adobe Photoshop, Macromedia FreeHand
Photocredit: William Swartz Photography