Health care should be designed for life’s extreme situations

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“Adopting the “New ideas and the pace of change in healthcare can lag behind other innovations that consumers experience every day,” says Yves Béhar, industrial designer and founder of design firm Fuseproject. Béhar says people get frustrated when they compare their experience in clinics and hospitals to, for example, their consumer experience at the Apple Store. Béhar believes that design can have a positive impact on people’s lives, leading him to focus on “designing for extreme audiences,” such as children, the elderly, neurodivergent and mobility-impaired people.

“Most of the design addresses the comfortable middle part of life when you’re happy, healthy and have money,” he says. “For me, design is most needed when change is most extreme.” One example of this is Moxie, an AI learning robot companion designed for autistic and neurodivergent young people. “It’s been extremely helpful for all kids, especially during COVID,” says Behar.

Since its launch in 2022, Moxie has had over 4 million interactions with babies, and has been reported to improve social skills like vocalization, social engagement, and self-control by 71 percent for those who regularly play with it. Another invention from FuseProject—and a favorite of Behar’s—is the SNOO robotic bassinet. The bassinet mimics renowned pediatrician Harvey Karp’s method of calming babies, which includes swaddling, pacifying, and rocking.

“The AI ​​recognizes when a baby is screaming and upset and begins making noises and movements in response,” says Behar. “It is the first and only medical device cleared by the FDA for its ability to safely place sleeping babies on their backs and prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).”

This article is published in the July/August 2024 issue Wired UK Magazine.

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