A wearable device that can diagnose various types of cough in high-risk patients.

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During two and half years, INNGAGE has worked in collaboration with C-mo Medical Solutions in the development of a medical device that allows the monitoring of various types of cough and support the diagnosis in respiratory pathologies.

The device is applied on the abdominal area of the patient and makes an extensive evaluation of the distinctive characteristics of the cough. This way it monitors the chronic cough, giving to the patient the possibility of managing his health condition and giving the doctors the opportunity to follow it’s patients condition from a distance.

INNGAGE, in collaboration with the C-mo team, was responsible for the development of this project, from design to engineering, from prototype production to contact with suppliers. Get to know the perspective of João Pereira, industrial designer at INNGAGE, who led the development of this project.

1. How was the first contact with the client, and why did you accept the challenge?

At INNGAGE, we had the opportunity to work on projects completely different from each other. Consumer electronics, coffee machines, packaging, hardware for windows / doors, and protection parts for motorcycles and bicycles, among others.

However, medical devices was a category that was missing from our portfolio and was an area that we were very interested to be involved with. 

Because of this, when the C-mo team approached us with the opportunity to develop this project, our answer could only be “Let’s do it!”.

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2. What were the phases of the project and how did you approach the work process?

The project started with a discovery phase where we conducted an extensive research about the product segment and the target consumer, a benchmark study to inform us on the solutions currently available in the market and a research about the technologies needed for the project.

After the analysis of the information, we designed some initial proposals that explored different concepts, allowing us to consider the weak and strong points of each one.

Lastly, after a careful evaluation, one of the options was selected to move forward with the development of the project that has resulted in the product that we have today.

Although this process description gives a sense of simplicity and order during the course of the project, in fact it was somewhat different.

Due to the nature of this product, the project has suffered several changes throughout the development process. Sometimes we had to step back a few steps to move further with the development.

Using fast prototyping tools we were able to make a large number of tests with the enduser that helped us understand which adjustments were needed to make the product as comfortable and discreet as possible. I’ve even tested the prototypes on myself countless times to help me understand the user perspective.

We also had the opportunity to talk with suppliers from different areas that helped us with all the refinement needed to make the production of the C-mo device more efficient.

Is important to say that the collaboration with the client was a constant in every step of the process and all decisions were taken together in order to obtain the best result possible.

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3. What differentiates this project from others that you have participated?

I think that one of the main differences is related to the type of client. 

The development process in a Startup is completely different from the development in a company with an established business, with products already in the market.

Usually, when we are working with an established company, the project directions are predefined, the suppliers are already chosen and the production technologies selected.

On the other hand,  in a startup, all the points mentioned above are not defined and part of our job involves helping our client to get those points answered, acting as a link between the different parties.

And I’m not saying that one type of client is better than the other, both represent different challenges and both have numerous possibilities to develop differentiating and valuable products.

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4. What value does the C-mo device offer to doctors and patients?

From the patient’s perspective, C-mo offers greater comfort in cough monitoring. The reduced dimensions of the product and its configuration with a flexible middle part, allow it to adapt to all types of users in an organic way, thus resulting in a discreet use of the product.

From the doctor’s point of view, this device allows the collection of concrete data, in real time,  about the patient’s condition, avoiding subjective descriptions given by the user. This way, the doctor has all the information needed to develop a more efficient diagnosis that allows him to detect possible problems, faster, and prevent any complications in the future.

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5. Which was the biggest challenge of this project?

Since C-mo is a wearable device for the health sector, there were some challenges to overcome in the development process.

First of all, as it is a wearable to be placed in the abdominal area next to the user’s chest, the miniaturization of the product was one of the main focuses in order to make the product comfortable and discreet to the user. Because of that, in close collaboration with the client, the product was designed from inside out, starting with all the electronic parts and components that needed to be compatible with the outer shell, in order to reduce the dimensions of the device as much as possible.

In second place, the fact that this product is considered a medical device, it needs to pass a greater number of tests and trials that are quite rigorous in order to obtain the certifications required for its commercialization. Continuous prototyping was key to this manner.

Lastly, the broad target audience, which extends from children to the elderly. This constraint brought huge complexity because the product had to gain some elasticity. Fortunately, we had several opportunities to prototype the solutions and test them with different users in order to ensure the best result.

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6. As a designer, what is the importance of close collaboration with the client in the process of product development?

This is possibly one of the most important reasons for the success of a product.

The perspectives are different, as well as the knowledge that each of the parties has to offer to the project. And by working in close proximity with our clients, it’s possible to constantly share and discuss all the directions for the project in order to obtain the best result.

Throughout the entire development process we had countless conversations, in person and online, with the C-mo team where we discussed the progress of the project and made crucial decisions.

In my personal opinion, I believe that this type of collaboration is the only way to do design, and also the best way to bring to the world innovative products that add value to people lives.

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7. What opportunities can bring a pioneering project to this sector?

First of all, we hope that C-mo will contribute to prevent serious pathologies at the respiratory level and offer its users the opportunity to prolong their lives in the healthiest way possible.

For us, at a professional level, we hope that this project can generate more opportunities to develop new products in the health sector. Not only because of the interesting challenges they present and the countless possibilities to develop something innovative, but also because it is an area that allows adding immeasurable value to people’s lives.

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