Exceptional product design boosts innovation in telehealth
05 December 2022
Successfully converting his passion for healthcare into a useful product for telehealth has been hugely rewarding for UC Master’s graduate Robbie Porteous.
Enrolling in the University of Canterbury’s new Master of Product Innovation in 2020 was an easy decision for Robbie, who was drawn to the programme’s unique blend of design and business.
“I was very excited to get involved and join the inaugural class,” he explains. “UC has such a great reputation as a Business and Product Design school that I felt bringing aspects of both together would give me a strong skill base to pursue a new and innovative industry.”
Wanting to make a difference in health through product design is of particular interest to Robbie, who had started doing projects in this space while on an exchange to the Georgia Institute of Technology as part of his Bachelor of Design Innovation at Victoria University. With the global pandemic, the need for effective telehealth tools – making use of digital technology to provide healthcare remotely – has become increasingly apparent.
For his master’s degree, Robbie worked with Christchurch telehealth company Spritely to develop an innovative home hub product. With a tablet and monitors for oxygen, blood pressure and temperature, the home hub is designed to enable aged care residents to record and monitor their own vital signs. This can then be transmitted for health monitoring and tracking without the need for regular in-person check-ups and removes risks associated with in-person contact.
“The project was a collaboration between me and the engineering team at Spritely. I was able to bring their vision into the physical space, creating prototypes and digital media that allowed us as a team to develop the product as a whole.”
With support from UC, Robbie was able to access networking support, contacts and business development advice, along with the resources needed to successfully complete the necessary prototype and design work on time and to a high standard.
Spritely is developing the product further with a view to bringing it to market.
“Working with Robbie through the development of the Spritely Home Hub was a productive experience,” says Tim Jackson, Head of Engineering at Spritely. “Robbie’s attention to detail and his ability to communicate clearly led to no expectations being left unmet. His design skills and previous experience working in the telehealth space meant he was able to lead this project through to completion, on time and on budget.”
Now in London, Robbie hopes to pursue a career in product development for healthcare.
“I am extremely proud that, as a designer and innovator, I can use my skills to help create technologies and products that make a tangible and impactful differences to the lives of those around me.”
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