Imagine sensors that monitor body chemistry painlessly and connect to “the cloud”. Imagine other cloud-connected devices that deliver therapies. How could such technology be integrated into people’s lives to help them and their caregivers better manage chronic conditions and what would that integrated “ecology” look like. This is project mapping the system of Diabetic Neuropathy and how can technology help improve it.
Adobe Illustrator, Sketch, Arduino Uno, Temperature Sensor, Light Sensor, Resistor, Temperature-Hydration Sensor.
Mapping the current system map, ecology map, patient journey map, conceptual design.
2 min Read
Jay is a real-estate developer and a part time equity investor. He loves hosting parties for family and friends and is a tv show enthusiast.
He inherited diabetes from his father but very recently has been diagnosed to be at an early stage in Diabetic Neuropathy.
Diabetic Neuropathy is a chronic health condition which develops over a period of time and sedentary lifestyle and stress act as catalyst for the same.
In the United States, more than 90% of the performed amputations are due to circulations issues from diabetes with 60-80% of these being lower leg or foot amputations.
I had a patient whose feet had to be amputed. If he would have come to us 3 months earlier, we could have saved his foot
Dr. Veronica Brown
Maintain feet temperature
Jay finds checking feet temperature too tedious.
Equity investment and real estate development both are high stress careers.
Always wear socks to keep feet clean, dry and warm
This is something Jay does because it is part of his work attire.
In order to analyze the condition and find opportunity areas, I mapped what the current feedback loop is for the patient. I discovered that there is a delayed feedback due to lack of real time information about the feet condition.
Combining the research and system understanding, there is a need for a connected device which communicates real time, information about the feet, which then helps them manage their condition.
A smart socks system which monitors feet condition and provides real time feedback to the patients thereby enabling better management of Diabetic Neuropathy
This includes a quick analysis of the patient's state and on further scrolling down, they can see the current measurements for their glucose level and their average feet temperature.
It also includes a suggestion for the day which is another analysis of the data to help patient improve their condition.
In order to increase blood flow to the feet, these exercises are necessary to be performed regularly. Looking at the patient's feet stats and schedule, the app will recommend exercise.
When a patient starts doing certain exercise, they get real time feedback as the blood circulation starts rising and post the exercise they can see the temperature rise in their feet.
Mobile App States
High Hydration State
Urgent Care State
Below is a conceptual system which shows the patient's mental model of the mobile application.
With TemPed in picture, below is how the proposed ecosystem will look like.
Ideation & Testing
In order to test my concept of smart socks and to see the viability of technology in the near future, I tested different sensors using Adafruit tutorials.
Testing different sensors using arduino
The below test using a heat pad proved that embeded temperature sensors in the smart socks could communicate to the patient the real time feet temperature.
Testing temperature sensor using heat pad
Temperature rise from 26.77 to 28.25 degree celcius
Considering edge cases, if the sock gets wet, it can communicate the same to the patient through the humidity sensors.
Testing humidity by touching the sensor using wet sock
Increase in humidity from 47.35% to 59.49%
This was the first time I worked on a wearable and although we are accustomed to having wearables like Apple watch, Fitbit, which are very prominent and even considered fashion accessories by some, this was a case which was completely different, because in case of healthcare the wearable needs to easily blend in the environment and not stand out.
The challenge was really interesting and just designing for healthcare is somewhat intimidating given the gravity of the subject.