As an innovative and essential patient interaction device, Curbell’s Pillow Speaker has helped
the company become a leader in the medical device industry. However, with the current pace of
technological advancement the current generation of Pillow Speaker is rapidly becoming outdated. Our
task was to come up with ideas for a new generation of Pillow Speaker that will utilize the most up to
date technology and reflect the growing focus on improving patient experience. The new Pillow Speaker
needs to usable by all patients, including the young and old, and it needs to be able to withstand the
rigors of a hospital environment. We took these things into account during our brainstorming process,
and our final recommendations are aimed at addressing these challenges.
We structured our brainstorming process using a method called Affordance Modeling.
Affordance modeling is a way to organize thoughts using established categories such as communication,
control, and capture. Using these categories we were able to organize desired features of the Pillow
Speaker into a useful framework, which helped us focus the brainstorming process. Once we decided
what features we wanted the Pillow Speaker to offer, then we could figure out the best way to
implement those features.
In order to help focus our brainstorming we researched similar technologies to the Pillow
Speaker along with Pillow Speakers offered by competing companies. This allowed us to get an idea of
the technologies available in the marketplace today that could possibly be implemented in the Pillow
Speaker. It also gave us a standard to measure ourselves against so we would know what kinds of
features we should be implementing and the best ways to implement those features. We looked at
different technologies including GPS , smartphones , tablets , and smart watches. This research
on current offerings gave us a basis to start developing ideas for the future Pillow Speaker. The main
trends that we saw were wide use of touchscreens, increasing importance on software applications, and
the rise of streaming entertainment content rather than downloading it.
After benchmarking and going through our affordance models we narrowed our focus to the
patient affordance model. The patient is the main user of the device and as a consequence our most
important recommendations are based on improved the patient experience. We identified the most
important affordances and focused our attention on improving those aspects of the device. There are
many additional improvements that could potentially be made. However, our final ideas reflect the
functions that we believe to be the most important to add to the Pillow Speaker, and they are the ones
that can be implemented using technologies available today.
Protection from Spills and impact:
It has been estimated that Americans alone have spent nearly 6 billion dollars on fixing
damaged Iphones since 2007 . This estimate doesn't even include the countless other handheld
devices with touchscreens that we have become so accustomed to being seen broken. Many companies
have invested a lot of money and time in attempting to design a smartphone that both keeps up with
today’s modern expectations, i.e. Large Glass Touchscreens, as well as having the ability to withstand
the daily stresses put on their handheld devices. Ability to withstand impacts and spills has become such
a key aspect in phones and tablets that even before a new model is released to the general public one is
able to find videos of people on YouTube putting a phone or tablet through a range of “Tests” in order
to demonstrate the phone's ability to withstand damage. In a hospital there are less potential damaging
activities a Pillow Speaker will be put through compared to a smartphone. On the other hand, it doesn't
take much for a large glass touch screen on any device to become broken and cracked, as well as
become damaged due do accidental spills. To have a pillow speaker that will be able to withstand
impacts and spills would not only be beneficial in terms of cost efficiency to the manufacturer, the
consumer of the pillow speaker, and maintenance, it would also provide a sense of ease to the patient
using the device having to not constantly worry about breaking their pillow speaker during their stay.
After all, the pillow speaker is the only thing a patient truly has control over during their stay, and they
should not be restricted to how they are to use it in order to prevent damages.
When considering how to go about satisfying our needs for a device that will be both durable
i.e. have the ability to withstand impacts such as drops, and be able to withstand spills of liquids, we
came up with many different ideas on how to satisfy this so called ruggedization of the pillow
speaker. From benchmarking of similar products such as smartphones and tablets we gathered ideas of
a solution by looking at how other companies such as Samsung went about solving this concern. Our
ideas that we gathered mainly consisted of the use of durable materials such as Gorilla Glass, the glass
used for many smart phones that is said to be able to withstand impacts, having the device be
waterproof or at least water resistant by means of a hydrophobic coating to prevent water from getting
inside the device, and to have minimal ports into the device for water to gain access through. If such
ports exist they should be filled with some sort of stopper. As we reviewed these ideas we thought back
to our benchmarking and looked into the fact of how some of today's smartphones such as the IPhone
as mentioned above can still do so well on the market while being so fragile, and we found that some
customers will ignore the fragility of a device if they enjoy the user experience of it due to the fact that
the device can be placed into a protective case. This realization allowed us to come to a conclusion that
we can satisfy these needs of ruggedization both effectively and while keeping costs to a minimum by
the use of a plastic case to be used with the pillow speaker. The case will seal the pillow speaker from
water as well as provide a cushion and/or barrier so to say between the pillow speaker and the potential
threats from the outside world. We believe that Curbell should be the manufacturer of this case with
their experience of plastic manufacturing.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that at any time, more than 1.4 million people
worldwide are affected by infections acquired in hospitals; therefore, it is vital for hospitals and clinics to
ensure the sanitation of all equipment to prevent spreading diseases . While the pillow speaker is not
the only item that needs to be carefully disinfected and sterilized, it is one of the most important ones
considering the fact that the patient will be constantly using it for entertainment and comfort purposes.
Since this device will be widely used by all the patients admitted and staying in the hospital, it is
important to come up with the most efficient ways to clean and disinfect it.
Our first option in order to make this process efficient would be using a water resistant coat.
This can be achieved by using specific coating sprays that will protect the device from liquids.
Afterwards, the hospital staff can safely use the currently available disinfectant solutions to sterile the
devices manually. Better yet, implementing a waterproof build would enable the hospital staff to clean
the devices mechanically using mechanisms such as washer-disinfectants or washer-decontaminators.
Second option is using UV-resistant materials to build the device, which makes it possible to
use ultrasonic cleaners that have the ability to not only clean the visible surface but also penetrate
through less visible cracks and holes to ensure cleanliness. Ultrasonic cleaner is an existing technology in
all hospitals nowadays and will have no extra cost for the hospital to use this feature.
Third, and the most profitable of the options, is using a case. Curbell Medical is already active in
the plastic industry, and thus they can take advantage of this fact to make cases that will cover up the
device and protect it from direct contact with the users. In order to sterilize the cases, they can be either
temporarily taken off and washed using one of the options explained above or fully discard the case and
put on a new one. This will bring in more revenue for Curbell because buyers will need more cases as
the old ones wear out throughout time.
For simplicity of maintenance the pillow speaker should have the following functions:
Similar to every personal computer in today’s market, the pillow speaker should also contain the
function to restore its setting to a prior state. This allows the software setting to restore to a prior
checkpoint which was before any harmful changes are made. There are certain damages that can be
made to a computer’s registry which can render the computer useless. For example such as accidentally
deleting a registry file that is critical to the computer’s basic function. By restoring to a prior checkpoint
the damage can be undone.
Since the pillow speaker can connect to the World Wide Web it will be prone to malware and
spywares. Being infected by a malware or spyware is as easy as downloading an email attachment or
clicking on a miscellaneous link. The pillow speaker will contain many sensitive information regarding
patients, thus making the need for protection from malware and software critical. It is ideal if Curbell
Medical can partner with software security companies such as Symantec and McAfee and provide
security for the new generation of pillow speaker.
It is in the best interest for the hospital and Curbell to impose a restriction on the type of web
contents that can be accessed through the pillow speaker’s network. Regulating browsing options can
minimize the chance of the pillow speaker being infected with malware or spyware.
There are times when access to the pillow speaker is limited or not possible. If a patient is in
quarantine IT workers will not be able to physically access his/her pillow speaker device. Under such
circumstances being able to access each pillow speaker’s system remotely is very important.
New generation pillow speakers should provide users with a troubleshooting wizard function
that guides the user to solve certain basic difficulties that can arise. For example, a troubleshooting
wizard can help the user identify the problem that is preventing them from accessing the internet.
If the system’s software is damaged beyond repair it is beneficial to be able to restore the entire
pillow speaker system to its factory default settings.
We are aiming to design a new generation of pillow speaker as a tablet. As a tablet, we have a 7
inch touch screen and we can do a lot of different things with it. Thinking as a patient, staying in a
hospital can be very boring at times. Entertainment plays a crucial role in their hospital time. Especially
for the new generation of pillow speaker, we can offer more options to the patient. For example, it can
give access to the internet to browse news, use social network or even online shopping.
It is essential to provide entertainment for all ages of patients. For instance, children are playing
games more often than they are using other apps. Adults or the elder seniors tend to read books or
news more frequently. Every age group of people has their own needs. The following chart indicates the
most popular apps for each age period patient’s preferences.
Child(Under 10) Youth(10 to 18) Adult(18 to 50) Senior(50 or up)
Music ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓
Movie ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓
Online Shopping ✓ ✓
Books, Magazine, News ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓
Social Network ✓ ✓
Games ✓ ✓ ✓
Table.1 Different age group of patients’ preferences
For this reason we need to build a device can satisfy everyone’s needs. For the new model of
pillow speaker tablet, we can perform this in a similar way the other tablets do. One suggestion we
make is we can cooperate with Google and Android operation system, having an open Apps market like
Google Play. Let the patients decide what they need for their entertainment. Also, we can cooperate
with companies like Pandora or Amazon, and each patient can access certain songs or books for free. In
this way, they can gain more returning customers and advertise their products. On the other hand, it will
provide more entertainment to our patients.
The other suggestion is making three different modes of the pillow speaker for children, adults
and older seniors. In this way, we can pre-install all the apps each of individual group might need, but
this will be less freedom for the patients. However, the pillow speaker will be more personalized. For the
children, we can make a children's mode of the pillow speaker simpler and more colorful. It will make
the children more comfortable with the pillow speaker. In this way we can make one Pillow Speaker to
meet everyone’s needs.
The pillow speaker will be designed so that, when held by the user, it is taller than it is wide,
much in the way that tablets are constructed. Take, for example, the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Its display
size is 7.48 inches high and 4.74 inches wide. The pillow speaker shall have similar dimensions, albeit
with slightly smaller ones to save on costs: it will be seven inches high, four inches across, and there will
be an inch or so on either side of the screen to accommodate the speakers, which will be close to the
top of the screen. Additionally, above and below the screen will be roughly an inch of space to
accommodate various features. At the top, directly in the center, will be a camera, and slightly to the
right of that will be a microphone. This is for webcam purposes (i.e., video-chatting with family
members/friends via applications such as Skype, etc.). Also on the top, and close to the right of the
device, will be the headphone jack. Slightly to the right of that, and on the side, will be the power
cord/USB input. On the opposite side at the top, a nurse call button will be placed. Originally, we
decided to place it at the bottom center, but we realized that on tablets, phones and other devices, the
home button is located there, which is an often-pressed button on those devices. For instance, the
Apple iPhone 6 has its home button located at the bottom center of the device. Therefore, placing the
nurse call feature there would most likely cause a lot of unnecessary summonings of the nurse.
Naturally, we decided to place the home button at the bottom center instead. Finally, we have a
separate menu at the bottom of the screen running its width filled with icons for room features, such as
lighting, blinds, room dividers, and T.V. control. This is similar to many smartphones that have offset
menus at the bottoms of their screens for more popular features/apps. The Apple iPhone 6 has a kind of
offset menu: the phone, mail, Safari (Web browser), and iPod (music access) functions each have an icon
at the bottom of the device’s screen that is separate from the larger menu above it (which includes
features such as clock, weather and maps).
One important function of the Pillow Speaker should be to capture information from the patient and use
it to improve the patient experience. All kinds of information can be stored on the Pillow Speaker that
would be useful to the patient. Information about the hospital such as dining hall hours and food menus
can be made available. There can also be pictures, names, and information about the hospital members
on staff at any particular time that can be shown to patients to make them more comfortable. Because
the future Pillow Speaker is likely to be a touchscreen device we recommend that these functions be
implemented through software applications. This gives the user the greatest ease of use and
`Another important category of information is scheduling. An interactive calendar application on the
Pillow Speaker could record things like procedure times, physical therapy visits, and medication times
and give patients timely reminders. It could also allow them to communicate their preferred visiting
hours and communicate this information to potential visitors. To implement this information storage
and usage it would be beneficial to develop a software application to help keep track of each patient’s
information. Each patient could each have a user account which complies with HIPAA regulations and
allows them to save their personalized preferences between hospital visits. This lets the patients be
more involved in their hospital stay and improves the ability to have individualized hotel-like care. This
could be an area of growth for Curbell, who is in a good position to provide these specialized software
patient experience solutions to complement their Pillow Speaker hardware. If Curbell is not interested in
making a jump to software development then partnerships should be made with current software
development companies to start offering apps with these kinds of functions.
Curbell Medical has been a mainstay in the ever-burgeoning world of pillow speakers for over
half a century now. As the years went by, the company honed its craft for manufacturing these devices
to stay at the forefront of the medical-technology world. At the current time, Curbell is aiming to
improve upon their past successes with a new generation of pillow speakers. Hopefully the ideas and
suggestions that we, as students and as avid consumers of the latest technologies, elaborated upon in
this presentation will be of service to Curbell as they continue to be the first choice for many
professionals in the medical environment.
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