"MONA, that's Alexa with a PhD," is how Clinomic CEO Lukas Martin sums it up. The modern assistant is Clinomic's first tech-driven product and cannot be compared to standard patient monitors on the market. With artificial intelligence, the system provides support for all problems in documentation and communication in the intensive care unit - and does so right at the patient's bedside.
Clinomic emerged in 2019 from a cooperation between the RWTH Aachen University and the RWTH University Hospital and it links medical technology with modern technology in an interdisciplinary way. With features that are more familiar in the consumer sector, MONA reduces the documentation effort, facilitates decisions and everyday life in the ICU. Staff can find every important information and clinical measurements collected on one screen in the direct context of the individual patient. The smart assistant can immediately manage what counts at the moment, she responds to voice input, answers and shows the required information on screen with the help of intelligent algorithms.
The customer's starting point and design wish was a humanoid and friendly appearance which should give the system its very own design language and personality. In addition, the system will be attached to the wall with the help of an adjustable monitor arm and "float" in the room while being freely positionable.
But does an AI-controlled system have to resemble a robot-like assistant or look like a classic monitor? It quickly became clear to our team that the solution was neither a cute robot with human features, nor another boring grey box - "artificial intelligence" can also be communicated in a much more subtle way. Therefore, right at the beginning, an idea was developed that visualizes the systematic processes in the system to the outside instead and makes them tangible for the user. With the help of a semi-transparent case front and invisibly integrated LED elements, MONA's "soul" comes to life with pulsating lighting effects while signalling the device status when users make inquiries. Color, light and movement thus provide emotional feedback, uniqueness and recognizability of the product.
We started working with WILDESIGN because we wanted to develop a medical product, an intelligent assistance system for intensive care. At that point, we had a first functional prototype, but it lacked the final stage of turning it into a finished, presentable and functional product.
From the first moment, we benefited from the fact that the design team led the process in a goal-oriented way. It was clearly defined when the design should be ready and in which direction we would go.
Design is crucial for MONA. MONA has two things that are important: One is fitting into the overall context of the ICU. A system that does not fit harmoniously into the orchestra of different devices will not find acceptance in the end. The second point is, of course, usability. The best technology is useless if it is not designed in a practicable way.
WILDDESIGN is usually very fast and above all: the designers are very experienced. This is a combination that is rarely found in this market. It was a successful project and we are absolutely satisfied with the result. I believe that the awards that have been achieved in the meantime speak for themselves.
Benedikt Glöß, Yunhong Chen, Stefan Bruckmann, Dennis Kulage
The centrepiece of the operating concept is a centred, 24-inch touch screen, which is surrounded by integrated sensors of the system. These sensors help MONA to see, hear and speak.
Seeing: A 180-degree camera makes telemedicine an implemented experience in the ICU, assisting staff with internal communication and diagnostics. A magnetic-mounted shutter allows the camera to be locked, maintaining patient and staff privacy.
Hearing: The system understands the user's voice and speech anywhere in the room - without the need to learn special voice commands. A large number of microphones ensures optimal recognition of the spoken word. Here, cooperation partner divvoice has worked wonders.
Speech: Information and answers are output via integrated frontal speakers positioned at head height. Users receive direct feedback on their queries and will be informed about critical patient values.
Other innovative features include a radar module that detects movement in the room, an RFID sensor for user authentication and ambient lighting on the back of the case.
Since the WILDDESIGN team is entering the project quite late in June 2020, it was a sprint until the market launch of MONA. In six months, the design and case construction are created with numerous technical challenges, such as weight reduction and acoustic optimization. The success is also due to the close, trusting cooperation with long-standing partners BYTEC Medizintechnik and Canto, who were responsible for the hardware development and production of the prototype parts. Despite these challenges, after just three months an initial prototype with sheet metal and housing components was built using the rapid prototyping process, on which tests could be carried out and the construction was checked.
By the end of the year, construction and design were completed so that the first series of 20 devices could be finally assembled and shipped to hospitals throughout Europe. And: the intense work on MONA is already bearing fruit, as Mona is very well received by representatives of the medical sector, insurance companies and potential customers. The next series production is already larger by a factor of 10 and it is multiplying quickly.
The Clinomic team was also hoping for a red dot design award for MONA. The result was 2! One for outstanding product design and another one in the Smart Product category. We wish the founding team that the momentum of the design development will continue for a long time and that MONA will become the standard in our intensive care units.