OCAD Series: Multii

Multii – by Yousif Devlin

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The Multii is a device designed by Yousif Devlin to improve the experience of managing newly diagnosed people with Type 1 Diabetes. The ergonomic handheld device is a Blood Glucose monitor, Insulin Pen and a portable Sharps Container, all the while helping Diabetics reduce the bulk of the equipment which is needed to be carried around. As a Type 1 Diabetic for the past 6 years, Devlin was inspired to choose Diabetes as his thesis direction. Yousif was kind enough to speak more about his Multii project.

What made you decide to pursue your studies in design, specifically industrial?

Ever since high school, I enjoyed my Design & Technology class where I worked with wood, metals and plastics. I enjoy the satisfaction of completing a product I designed when it turns out exactly how I had imagined it. I like seeing people use my designed product – their facial expressions are priceless and it makes me feel like I have succeeded.

‘Product Design’ is what I was looking to pursue, but ‘Industrial Design’ is a similar program, available in Canada.

How did you decide on what topic you would pursue in your thesis project?

I had a few ideas bouncing around but eventually decided to focus on something that I personally have a connection with. Good design is greatly successful when it is designed internally from the designer. I was the researcher and the user, so that made my thesis fun and easy. I realized that focusing on Diabetes as my thesis project really made things easy for me as I had a wide range of knowledge beforehand of the subject. It really helps when a project which is selected is close to you. I was passionate when working on my thesis project because I really wanted it to work out as it is something I would really want and use myself.

What inspiration did you use to start and complete your project idea?

Everyday handheld devices and products really inspired me to complete my project. A Diabetic is required to always carry around their supplies wherever they go, and so for non-diabetics, it would be their cell phones, wallets and keys. The iPhone is the one product that really inspired me to do this project because of its ergonomic shape of being thin, flat and small enough to fit into the pocket and in your hand. The iPhone really got me thinking about the differences between ‘emotional’ design and ‘techy’ design. I focused more on the emotional design of improving the ‘experience’ of managing diabetes.

I first designed the outer shell and then worried about the insides as it has some limited constraints where things are able to fit properly. A lot of designed objects I think are concentrated on designing the insides first and then working around with the outside based on its inner structure. I do the opposite. I like working from the outside-in rather than inside-out.

What kinds of obstacles (if any) did you come across during your product/services’ development?

The only obstacles I can recall are the ergonomics and comfort level of the final model. It was a trial and error situation and I was trying to stay away from the ‘techy’ look and focus more on the ‘emotional’ look which consists of not having buttons but rather a straightforward instructional design without words or arrows. I think this part of the design was the most challenging for me. Another obstacle was the inner structure constraints, some things didn’t fit the way they were supposed to and I had to redesign the small pieces to the millimetre until they fit without changing its outer shell shape.

After receiving over 400 survey responses, it was hard to satisfy each person’s needs and wants but I managed to cover the main and consistent wants and needs.

In your perspective, what makes for a ‘good’ design?

Good design is putting yourself in the user’s shoes. If you are designing for a 5 year old, then get on your knees and pretend you are a five year old for research. I would like to think that design is like a CSI episode, you can’t come up with a final conclusion (product) without proper evidence/proof of the research findings and validating (double-checking) that research is what makes a ‘solid’ design direction. I felt like the more I asked people through interviews and getting surveys back (413 to be exact) the more the project designed itself. It’s like the people designed my product, not me. All the needs came together and were gradually built up into a final design.

What tips do you have for individuals considering a career or planning to pursue industrial design?

Try to find something within industrial design early enough and go for it. Narrow down your focus, ‘Industrial Design’ by itself is a broad subject and not specific enough. If you like lights, do lighting design, if you enjoy furniture do furniture design, etc. They all have the same process but the knowledge of the research is what counts with being ‘experienced’, for example you might know a lot about lights and how different lighting situations affect people.
Another tip would be to play around with CAD software – Solidworks, Alias, 3D Max, and so on. You need a few years experience learning these programs because it is time consuming. Taking a CAD class usually only teaches you 30% of the whole software and that is a class with a total of 96 hours of teaching. We are evolving into a digital generation and CAD is a mandatory skill to have.

It’s great to see a tool born out of necessity transformed into such a well designed ergonomically friendly product. We would like to thank Yousif for taking the time to explain his thesis project and the design process. Best of Luck!