Health care providers working in developing communities regularly confront challenges with patient identification due to lack of official documentation, common community names, unknown dates of birth and human error. This lack of basic information can deter individuals from receiving appropriate health care and slowing any type of diagnosis can ultimately cost lives.
Simprints, a Cambridge University non-profit tech company, are committed to improving the lives of the poor and vulnerable by building the first ever low-cost, open-source, biometric system of its kind. Their system provides 228% more accuracy than existing mobile scanners in low-resource settings.
In choosing therefore, Simprints were confident in our ability to deliver a reasoned and effective solution, from establishing the preferred design pathway to the engineered solution. A close working partnership developed rapidly through the critical evolution of the product specification and user understanding, and the collaborative design team based at therefore’s London studios worked through iterative ergonomic rigs, models and prototypes to test various principles.
therefore’s direct participation in field testing in Southern Asia was also vital in appreciating operational environments and real-life scenarios.
Important social and cultural issues were addressed in the product design considerations with one key factor being the avoidance of direct physical human contact (especially between genders), which is culturally unacceptable to many. We needed to find an acceptable means of managing the scanning process as both parties are simultaneously engaged with and holding the device during scanning. Vero’s scanning zone is configured to accommodate a patient’s finger in a bowl-like arena which affords a degree of enclosure and hence protection against contact with the carers fingers. The shaping of the surface under the scanning zone is designed to allow the patient to place another finger so that they can firmly pinch or press down on the scanning plate, a necessary requirement to optimise the optical reader. This alignment is therefore an intuitive action and the patient readily understands the command to pinch the device when directed.
The other safeguard against contact is a wide silicon rubber strap in which the carer inserts their fingers to provide a secure means of holding the device in operation. This provides an effective additional barrier. Where contact is acceptable, the device is designed to enable the carer to place their thumb or forefinger on top of the patient’s digit to exact the best possible scan, first time.
During the summer of 2016 the first batch of fully functioning Vero samples, wirelessly synced to health worker’s smartphones were in the field.