Melbourne-based artist and designer, Leah Heiss, offers a radical re-conceptualisation of the process of designing new medical technologies, arguing for an open, trans-disciplinary and collaborative relationship between science and design. The emotional experience of the user of medical technologies is of paramount importance to Heiss. Early in her research, Heiss discovered that many people opt out of wearing or using their medical devices such as hearing aid technologies or medic jewellery because they are perceived to be unattractive and come with a litany of social stigmas. Presented as a series of prototypes created using additive manufacturing 3D printing , the Close to Me: Designing for Health and Wellbeing installation reveals the many stages of development required to arrive at considered design solutions. Projects on display include Diabetes Jewellery ; devices to adapt the user experience of hearing aids; high performance medic jewellery; an ECG neckpiece to discreetly measure heart rate; and the Seed Sensor, which is a swallowable device that unfurls in the digestive tract like a flower, collecting bubbles of gas that can be an early indicator of disease. Can design humanise medical technologies? Next Designer.
Initiatives, resources and people mentioned on the podcast
Designing into the Next Decade
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I am a Melbourne-based designer and RMIT researcher working at the nexus of design, health, and technology. My practice traverses device, service and experience and my process is deeply collaborative, working with experts from nanotechnology, engineering and health services through to manufacturing. My health technology projects include jewellery to administer insulin through the skin for diabetics; biosignal sensing emergency jewellery; and swallowable devices to detect disease. The design process for Facett has been acquired into the Museums Victoria heritage collection and been exhibited globally. A central part of my practice is facilitating design thinking workshops using the Tactile Tools methodology.
Her health technology projects include jewellery to administer insulin through the skin for diabetics; biosignal sensing emergency jewellery; and swallowable devices to detect disease. In total she has won five Good Design Awards and her design work is part of the Museums Victoria heritage collection. Her teaching practice traverses embedded practice in cancer care and transdisciplinary design focused on health sector innovation.