The temptation to view technology as a panacea often obscures the more important challenges around correct usage, prolonged adherence, accidental damage and opportunistic theft. From the beginning, we have tried to view the technology we’re building as just one piece of a larger suite of tools for health care providers.

One early consideration for us was how we could make the tablet easy to use and easy to secure. Back in May we started to research tablet cases that would address these concerns. We found a few decent options, but nothing that specifically addressed our needs. With some help from team members and designers, I made an initial mock up of the case design we were looking for (above).

We then started the search for an industrial designer who would be able to convert the simplistic mock-up into a CAD. We eventually found Eva Hoffman, who very graciously agreed to both make the CAD and prototype the design for us. Below are two iterations of the case design. The white case was made in the Stanford Product Realization Lab, and the black case was 3D printed using Shapeways (at great expense!).

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Eva took a simple mock-up and designed a stellar final product. She was careful to make sure the tablet was enclosed on all sides (to prevent damage from accumulated dust), while leaving easy access to the camera, and the headphone and charging ports. She decided to use hex screws (rather than phillips head screws) to seal the front and back of the case, as they are far less common and therefore a better way to prevent against opportunistic theft. The connection of the stand to the case is ingenious: rather than use hinges, the front and back of the case close around small plastic pivots protruding from the inside of the stand arms.

The next step for us will be to observe health care providers as they use the tablet & case, to see whether the stand provides any value, and whether they think the low-tech locking mechanism (a chain lock strung through the stand) will help to prevent against opportunistic theft. Based on the feedback we collect, we plan to make a few tweaks to the CAD design before assessing ways that we can inexpensively manufacture the case in larger quantities.

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