Improving needs-finding techniques for medical device development at low resource environments using Activity Theory

DS 87-1 Proceedings of the 21st International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED 17) Vol 1: Resource Sensitive Design, Design Research Applications and Case Studies, Vancouver, Canada, 21-25.08.2017

Year: 2017
Editor: Anja Maier, Stanko Škec, Harrison Kim, Michael Kokkolaras, Josef Oehmen, Georges Fadel, Filippo Salustri, Mike Van der Loos
Author: Rismani, Shalaleh; Van der Loos, H. F. Machiel
Series: ICED
Institution: The University of British Columbia, Canada
Section: Resource Sensitive Design, Design Research Applications and Case Studies
Page(s): 249-258
ISBN: 978-1-904670-89-6
ISSN: 2220-4342


It is critical to evaluate and improve existing needs-finding techniques for design in new and complex spaces. In the recent decade, more companies and organizations are focusing on medical device development (MDD) for low-resource environments. This paper proposes and studies a novel needs-finding technique based on Activity Theory that can be used for MDD for low-resource settings. This novel technique aims to offer a more comprehensive analysis of a design problem by considering the clinical, technical and socioeconomic factors. The paper describes and discusses a design study that was done with seven biomedical engineering student teams. The goal of the study was to compare the Activity Theory-based Needs Finding (ATNF) technique with a more conventional technique. The results indicate that novel ATNF technique can be successfully used by design teams and the technique allows for a more comprehensive analysis of the problem scope.

Keywords: Biomedical design, Design methodology, Multi- / Cross- / Trans-disciplinary processes


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