What product design is learning from video games

What product design is learning from video games

What product design is learning from video games

It’s in the detail Recent years have seen rapid advancements in 3D scanning technology, which uses lasers, white light or photographs to create a point cloud which is then connected to reconstruct a 3D image of an object.

The ability to capture such detailed imaging is transforming the way products are designed for patients. ‘One of the biggest challenges we have in the infant care space is designing products for patients who can change size and shape substantially,’ says Ronayne. ‘There’s a big difference between a 500g premature baby and a 100kg football player, but we need our devices to be able to treat both them and everyone in between. We have to consider things like comfort, how to deliver the therapy consistently, how the skin develops, how the muscles move, and so on. These and other factors are all important in developing a product that works with the patient rather than fights against them.’

Historically, medical products for babies have been scaled down versions of adult products, but experience has shown that this approach doesn’t always deliver the best outcomes for children. With 3D scanning, product designers now have another tool to help study the unique way babies and children grow.

“There’s a big difference between a 500g premature baby and a 100kg football player, but we need our devices to be able to treat them and everyone in between.”

Michael Ronayne, Product Development Manager, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare

‘Optiflow™ Junior 2, our newest infant nasal cannula range, is a direct result of combining technology with working closely with patients,’ says Ronayne. ‘The Waveflex™ technology we’ve developed adapts to the way babies’ faces move to help deliver comfortable, uninterrupted therapy.’

An innovative future Looking ahead, Ronayne sees more innovation on the horizon. ‘There are more medical grade 3D print materials becoming available now, so the idea of directly printing medical devices is becoming discussed more frequently. This technology is also giving us a lot more opportunity to mix materials – for example, printing both hard and soft materials at the same time and even incorporating embedded electronics. The time is coming when you’ll be able to 3D print your whole mobile phone, including the electronics and screen – in one go.

“The most important thing is to have engineers, designers and creative people asking the right questions.”

Michael Ronayne, Product Development Manager, Fisher & Paykel Healthcare

Of course, the benefit of technology rests on the human thinking behind it. ‘These technologies can be very useful, but first you have to really understand the problem you’re trying to solve, and then find the right approach to resolve it,’ explains Ronayne. ‘The most important thing is to have engineers, designers and creative people asking the right questions. Technology is a means to an end – If you’re not asking the right questions, technology won’t give you the right answers.’

So while technology can certainly help advance the services, products and games we interact with in our daily lives, it’s clear that good old-fashioned brainpower will still be running the show.


Video games have more in common with medical product design than you might think.
Michael Ronayne, Product Development Manager at Fisher & Paykel Healthcare, utilises 3D scanning used by the entertainment industry in his work designing medical devices for infants and children.

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