Otter: Newborn warmer for Low-Resource Hospitals
Multiple design iterations, prototypes and international research to prepare Otter for market launch in 2019
Company: Design that Matters
Project Outcome: A functional alpha prototype that maintains a surface temperature of 36°C. Each design feature is validated through clinical and user research. This Prototype traveled to Vietnam in December 2016 for market research.
2015 - present
Team: Lead: Malory Johnson
ID: Karan Mudgal
ME: Kristine Chen
Clinical research: Kristen Moulton
For district hospitals in resource poor areas who want to treat low birthweight newborns at birth rather than risk transporting them to crowded central facilities, Otter is a conductive warming bassinet that allows thermally stable newborns to avoid developing hypothermia while undergoing other treatments.
Unlike devices that provide a regulated microclimate that are complicated to use and maintain (for example incubators and radiant warmers), Otter provides affordable active warming that is easy to clean and hard to use wrong.
Research Objective: User Adoption
Otter is unique in the landscape of newborn warmers because it warms through contact (like a foot warmer) rather than warming the environment like the standard incubator or radiant warmer. Because of this foreign feature, Otter is often met with hesitation by clinical staff, and for good reason. With active heating, a simple mistake could lead to harmful outcomes. Our research question is this: How might we design Otter such that Doctors, Nurses and mothers feel confident that the baby is safe?
Video to the right follows our most recent field research story and explains our approach to human factors and design research.
Design and CAD
Fusion 360 was used to generate many iterations on form and UI for Otter. These models were used in field research to test assumptions on user priorities.
Below are two sacrificial concepts exploring the perception of comfort. Would the user rather have a rigid contour that's easy to clean or a soft insert that will get lost over time?
Otter is designed to supplement Kangaroo Mother Care, KMC, when it is not possible. For example, if the mother is contagious, or if the newborn needs treatment for any other illnesses. Otter maintains a surface temperature of 36°C which mimics the mother's skin temperature.
Otter Interfaces with Firefly, the world's most effective phototherapy device for low resource hospitals. Otter and Firefly can treat two of the most common neonatal issues: Jaundice and hypothermia.
Alpha Prototype Fabrication
As residents at the new Autodesk BUILD Space in Boston, we had access to a plethora of state-of-the-art rapid prototyping machinery. On a timeline of around one month, we finished a functional alpha prototype for Otter that is ready for testing over-seas.