Specialized rugged tablet computer for emergency medical personnel
The Task: The Germany-based health IT startup medDV had introduced electronic patient care records for emergency medical use. On site with a patient, say in a road accident scenario, EMTs collected data from various sources, some entered manually into a very easy-to-use touchscreen interface, some from wirelessly connected medical equipment, some from communication hardware. This data was used to compile reports and establish real-time communication with hospitals and experts. Since at the time (mid-2000s) there was no tablet on the market that was able to withstand the operating conditions, we made one.
The Challenge: We wanted an indestructible handheld tablet that could operate in any medical emergency scenario—withstand rain, disinfectants and being dropped on concrete; read smartcards; connect to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth®; communicate through cellular networks; have a battery that lasts a full workday; be readable in sunlight; have a certified, mounted car charger; and usage must only take a minimum of attention off the actual life-saving work of EMTs.
The Project: With specialists working on individual parts, the design went from prototyping through several implementation increments. Industrial design and plastics was probably the most complex part. We designed the electronics around a single-board-computer module with lots of custom peripherals. Component selection to meet the strict environmental requirements was a constant challenge. The unit with the name NIDA was in production for many years. Its updated version is still on the market in Europe today. My task was prototyping, making sure all components play nicely together, and also designing the touchscreen-based software.