Shape of things to come

hands connecting the current connectors on drug delivery tubes

This research project offers a different dimension of the role of design in relation to health.  The work focused on the design of medical connectors.  Traditionally colour is the primary distinguishing factor for staff to use to guide them in setting up equipment.  However in the dimly lit conditions of Intensive Care Units this can prove problematic and the consequences of plugging the wrong connector into the wrong device can have serious consequences.

a schematic of the different connectors tested for tactile differentiation

The research looked at how cutaneous senses could be used to inform the design of devices reliant on this sense.  It offered a piece of experimental research to increase understanding of the characteristics of exterior shape that are more and less easy to detect via the cutaneous senses.

This study was funded by DoH Health Technology Device Agency and led by Paul in collaboration with the Human factors group at the University of Leeds. It established the ease of differentiating small shapes (appropriate for use as a medical connectors) under three conditions; visual cues only, haptic cues only and both visual and haptic cues.

one of the final designs for the tactile connectors

Working with a commercial partner it was then possible to design and manufacture specific products that have a direct impact on patient safety.

Project updates

Lab4Living, Sheffield Hallam University,
Furnival Building, 153 Arundel Street, Sheffield, S1 2NU
Phone 0114 225 6753 | Fax 0114 225 6931