Most inventors are visionaries that have been inspired to create something they believe to be useful. Often the idea stems from a specific encounter where they saw or used a device that did not perform as effectively as the inventor thought it should. Sometimes the inspiration comes to this visionary through a colleague that describes a procedure, information system or tool that failed them.
The world needs great visionaries to help improve our lives but too often the idea stalls when tasked with bringing this vision to life. The field of medicine is filled with great thinkers and visionaries, but these same people tend to be very busy and find it difficult to move an inspiration for the next great wearable medical device along the path of product development.
Medical Device Development Requires More Than Inspiration
Most of the wearable medical devices that entered the marketplace in 2017 have spent several months to several years in the development pipeline. The question is where does the inventor begin? Our recommendation is to seek out the product development firms that have a proven track record of bringing other wearable technologies to market. There are skill sets that will be required along the way that the inventor or visionary just won’t have themselves.
More importantly is the new product development process needed for your device to succeed. For example, it does not make sense to meet with a mobile app development company before you have a physical design in place. Always start with a summary of the functionality you want for your device and share your ideas with a trusted product designer after there is a formal agreement that will protect your rights and ideas.
Mechanical, Electrical & Software Engineers Should Work in Synergy
The physical design and appearance of your device is very important to the end users and the marketability of your product. If a patient must wear the device, it needs to look and feel right. If a clinician will be using the device as a handheld unit, the design must be easy to use and conform to the environment it will be used in.
Once you have nailed down the mechanical design, an electrical engineer can work within the physical limitations of the device to layout how the electrical design. Often there will be sensor technology deployed in wearable medical devices. So the mechanical and electrical designers may need to make some adjustments to structure & materials for the components to function flawlessly together. Both disciplines can be very complex and it is rare that one individual shares these design skills.
Therefore the stakeholders should foster a collaboration and a project management team may be assigned to track progress, keep the client informed and oversee all parts of the medical device development process. Once the physical and electrical design phases are near complete, then we can start working with the software and app development teams.
Prototyping and Testing Helps Dictate Manufacturing Needs
If an entrepreneur was to hire individuals to tackle the above tasks, chances are you may invest months to identify the right players and several more months to get them to a point where they are producing. Outsourcing your engineering design services has become the norm for most visionaries seeking how to get your invention started. For the prototyping and testing phases alone, it makes sense to choose a partner that has access to 3D printing and additive manufacturing technologies. This world of making functional prototypes has moved very fast and is allowing startups get to market much faster although the equipment and materials can be very costly. Testing will allow you to adjust your design and materials as you discover bugs you never anticipated.
Since actual manufacturing is often the most expensive piece of the puzzle, this engineering for manufacturing stage considers material costs, production methods, anticipated run sizes and delivery schedules. A fully functional prototype will also allow you to present your design to venture capitalists and investors. A manufacturer will need you to show them the money before they invest in materials.
As a medical product design firm in Pennsylvania, Definitive Design has seen the shift towards wearable technologies several years ago. We have partnered with Connected Device Group to bring together the skills you will need to all under one roof. A visionary simply can not do all that is required without the help of a solid team of design professionals.