Sophisticated tech finds home in refreshed tourniquet

Sophisticated tech should be housed in an equally sophisticated product. Zimmer Biomet, a leader in the tourniquet market, asked Design Central to make that happen for its Personalized Pressure Technology. The technology determines the minimum tourniquet pressure needed to occlude blood flow to a limb during surgery or trauma situations, which lessens post-operative pain and helps to prevent nerve-related injuries. So we set out to accomplish a few things: Develop a visual brand language (VBL) across Zimmer’s A.T.S (Automatic Tourniquet System) line, design the overall enclosure for each product in the line and, most notably, evolve the graphical user interface (GUI) from analog to a digital touch screen. This required robust collaboration and creativity, as well as an acute understanding of a day in the life of this life-saving product.

  • Zimmer Biomet
  • Healthcare
  • Strategy
  • Research
  • Product Design
  • Engineering
  • User Experience

Objective: Establish a visual brand language and design both the outer enclosure and GUI used across Zimmer Biomet’s A.T.S line of tourniquets.

Inventive research leads to advisory panel

In order to get a true sense of who would use the A.T.S. products and how, we got creative. On-scene observations weren’t possible, so Zimmer worked with us to establish an advisory panel made up of medical and tech professionals, engineers, marketers and distributers who could provide critical feedback and context throughout our process. They offered insights on competitor products and walked us through multiple scenarios in which the tourniquet could conceivably be used. In this way, we were able to put ourselves in the surgery room and understand all of the nuances and safety requirements that went along with that. This was fundamental, especially in the creation of the GUI.

Designing the logic and key features of the GUI

Using our day-in-the-life understanding, we created a workflow chart—a step-by-step analysis that reflected the logic, possible setbacks and challenges encountered throughout product use. We gathered advisory panel comments on this, as well as our wireframes, which established where data would live on the touch screen. How large did the font need to be? How do you distinguish between left and right limb? Users would be wearing double-layered gloves, so the screen would have to offer clear feedback when touched. A.T.S. products are global, too, which meant that we needed to account for dozens of languages and make buttons as intuitive as possible. Each product would have to meet specific FDA, UL and CE agency requirements for safety and provide clarity related to time and pressure readings and potential errors. Finally, in order to validate the GUI’s performance and provide marketing with a useful tool, we designed an iPad application that simulated the experience.

Human factors, visual consistency informs overall enclosure

Human factors had the biggest influence as we established the outer appearance and VBL. We took the end-user into account as we designed how the handle functioned, where the hose connections lived, the placement of on/off buttons and alarm silence. Once we made it user-friendly, we then began looking at visual consistency and incorporating key brand attributes. A.T.S. products should evoke reliability and precision and be quickly and easily recognized as Zimmer designs. How parts are assembled also played a role in our engineering processes. Ultimately, we provided the enclosure computer-aided design (CAD) to Zimmer so the company could begin producing these visually aligned products.