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ThinkRevolutionist: Design That Matters

Brilliant Design Brings Warmth to Newborns
August 9, 2016

Design that Matters kicked off this summer with a new team devoted to the development and design of the Otter, a newborn warmer that helps prevent hypothermia. Throughout the summer the team is collecting feedback from clinicians and healthcare workers. Once this data is collected and vetted, the team will begin 3D printing prototypes. The CAD renderings for all of the Otter iterations are being created on the ThinkStation P910 in Autodesk Fusion 360. So far, the team has been able to create ten renderings in the time it used to take them to create one. Having the capability to produce multiple renderings allows for more in depth testing and feedback from the healthcare providers.

As the DtM team build out the plan for the first generation prototype they want to ensure it integrates how the product works (warming elements) and how the product looks (user interface and overall aesthetics). The team is working on an “alpha prototype” that helps anticipates user needs, user expectations, product performance specifications, as well as manufacturing methods and the target price point.

Based on their research they found a few key elements to consider moving forward in the conception and design of the warmer. The first insight showed a lack of prenatal care creates a challenge when accurately trying to assess a newborn’s gestational age; because of this, an alternative criterion needs to be identified in order for healthcare workers to determine when infants are viable candidates for Otter. The second key item that was learned is the ability to visually monitor at-risk newborns is as important to survival as warmth, so Otter must not obstruct a caregiver’s line of sight. The third key item is that Otter must complement Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC), a newborn warming technique that involves placing at-risk newborns in skin-to-skin contact with their mother.  KMC is the best warming method for newborns, particularly in low-resource settings.  Otter has to be there when KMC can’t, for example when babies must be placed in a device like DtM’s Firefly to receive phototherapy, or when they need to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for other therapies.

It takes a village to get a life-changing product like Otter off the ground, take a look and just who is making this project come to life:

  •     Ryan Carroll, MD, MPH, Program Director for the MGH-MUST Collaborative in Uganda
  •     Steve Ringer, MD, PhD, Chief of Neonatology at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
  •     Terri Gorman, MD at The Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  •     Lilian O’Leary, Nurse at The Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  •     Silvia Testa, MD at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center
  •     Elizabeth Johansen, DtM Alumni
  •     Luciano Moccia at Thrive Health and Greg Dajer at MTTS Asia
  •     Peter Chamberlain from the 2015 MIT-RISD PDD student team
  •     Dr. James Wall
  •     Dr. Lou Halamek, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital
  •     Dr. Janene Fuerch, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital


Check back in a few weeks to see the Otter prototypes the team has rendered and 3D printed!