Hospital grade smartphone ECG device

How to enable anyone to perform a hospital-grade ECG, anywhere?

While at Design Group Italia I had the chance to work on D-Heart, a smartphone-based ECG device. The founders of this Italian startup had a very rough working prototype and needed our help to turn it into a product that anyone could use, without any medical training.

I had the amazing opportunity to define the UX for both the physical product and the smartphone app at the same time, to ensure that the system would work seamslessly.

— The device

Since each cable needs to be connected to an electrode in a specific position, we designed the device so that the cables would come out in the direction towards the ideal position of each electrode. This avoids the need for the user to remember which color corresponds to each position.

We also invented an internal mechanism that lets the user pull out the cables in any order and for any lenght, and rewind them all at the same time with a single gesture. Again, this ensures there’s no need to remember a specific sequence to extract the cables and avoids errors. This seemingly simple functioning required months of testing and iterations.

We 3D printed some prototypes that were brought to Africa for stress-tests in remote villages, and thus the design was validated to be user friendly and effective.

— The app

The challenge here was to design an app simple enough to be used by anyone, but also with some advanced functions that would satisfy the needs of healthcare professionals.

Considering that the user may be experiencing an heart attack or be in pain, we made sure that the ECG recording could be started in the shortest possible time, with just a tap after opening the app. It includes an AR guide to place the electrodes in the correct position, and the ability to send the recording to a certified doctor who can analyse it and report back to the user within 15 minutes. The report comes with color-codes (green, orange or red) to make it easy for the user to understand the situation and if there’s the need to go to the hospital.

I defined user flows for the different kinds of users, laid down wireframes and designed the UI for the iOS and Android versions of the app. I managed the relations with clients and the developers through the whole process.

We also designed a case to carry the device and the electrodes, with an integrated wireless charging base and a slot to place the smartphone upright when performing the ECG: it can be used easily even if the user is alone or has limited mobility.

— Awards

2018 – Red Dot Design Award
2018 – ADI Design Index