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Student Showcase Archive

Blood Track

This is a fast solo project done during the GID semester at Pratt Institute, in New York. The results of the course were presented to Motorola Solutions, also in NY. The assignment was to design a universal hand-held scanner, with no other restrictions.

This project for Motorola turned out to be an exhilarating yet exhausting experience. Designing a scanner requires a holistic approach, for the system in which the scanner works is as important as the scanner itself. Furthermore, the job came with the wonders of an open brief: endless possibilities, time that flies researching and the difficulty to narrow down to a single, powerful concept.

Being the son of a doctor, I was quite slanted towards the potential medical application of the scanner. Patient monitoring, hospital facilities management and blood transfusion efficiency were some of the fields I considered. I generated some 10-15 different related ideas, all of them feasible and aimed to disrupt the existing market. The frustrating moment came just after that, while searching for similar concepts; most of them already existed to a certain extent... There are too many clever people thinking on the planet! The blood transfusion monitoring was barely developed though, especially for great disaster scenarios, which is the case of the project. So off we went; there was not much time for meandering.

I spent the first two days studying the existing technologies at Motorola, as well as new potential ones; RFID was the most promising. I also examined the blood transfusion chain from cradle to grave and the local emergency services within the DHS. In the case of big-scale catastrophes, the timing and accuracy in blood transfusions is a life-death issue. When camp hospitals are needed, the blood product management becomes paramount, and it depends totally on the efficiency of its logistics, from the mobile donation sites to the final points of use.

Given the rather easy availability of the technology and the existing problems within the system (i.e. laborious inventory management, time response and product waste), I designed a whole new structure, with a hand-held RFID scanner as the only hardware needed to read, track in real time and reconciliate the RFID-enabled blood products throughout the chain. This new proposal renders the system both easier to use and more efficient. Additionally, all the information is to be stored in the cloud, leading the way for a precise audition after the catastrophe.

The project is no more than a mere sketch, but there’s huge potential in the field. I have no doubt that the Internet of Things will greatly develop within the healthcare sector, its advantages being so clear.