NURO is an app that pairs with an affordable Ambulatory EEG monitor to help epileptic patients understand and control their condition. The app utilizes machine learning to improve seizure detection, keeps track of seizure history, and provides guardians with emergency response options. Our product is based on Dr. Sydney S. Cash's research.
I work with a team of 15 Brown students from Medical Engineering to Computer Science. I'm the sole designer on the EMC2 Team, so I tend to wear several hats.
My responsibilities are to design the app, brand the team, consult hardware usability, and build the website.
As the designer on the EMC2 team, I am leading the app design process. We are currently on our third round of user testing, and beginning app development. At the end of the semester, we'll present a final prototype to the Rothberg Corporation.
Before we get into the functions of the EEG monitor and the sister app, let me explain the associated medical jargon, statistics surrounding epilepsy, and Dr. Sydney Cash's research.
1. Epilepsy is a neurological condition characterized by recurrent seizures - brief disturbances in the electrical functions of the brain.
2. EEG stands for Electroencephalography. It's a medical test to find problems related to electrical activity of the brain using electrodes.
An ambulatory EEG device (right) is a portable monitor that is utilized for epilepsy diagnosis and seizure localization.
3. Personal medical EEG devices are expensive, inaccurate, and hard to use.
4. Dr. Cash and Dr. Mckenzie created the first prototype of this EEG concept using off-the-shelf equipment.
Through academic research, we've aimed to fix specific issues in the wearable EEG space.
1. Decrease cost of high-accuracy wearable EEG by up to
20-fold: range of $200 - $400.
2. Design an intuitive and seamless UI experience going
above and beyond what's available in the market.
3. Mitigate the social stigma of wearing a medical device.
Our product aims to help three types of users: 1) the epileptic patient, 2) the parent/guardian of the patient 3) patient's healthcare provider.
Through interviews, I was able to understand the needs of each user group.
Click on a graph to view in detail.
Since we aren't allowed to publicize photos of our surveyed users, we synthesized the data and opinions and created three personas.
Jenna, Daughter, 14
• Frustrated with dated, complex medical interfaces.
• Wants some autonomy over privacy settings.
• Wishes to track her seizure history for moments when she can't recall having a seizure.
Lisa, Mother, 42
• Wants a seamless emergency response procedure.
• Would like to access certain information from her underage daughter.
Dr. Levi, Physician, 38
• Would prefer not to monitor his patients
• Mostly interested in Jenna's seizure history.
• Looks forward to innovations in preventative and rescue measures for epileptics.
After pooling together user needs and research, I focused on minimizing the app's footprint as much as possible, and integrating emergency response (ER) interactions. These interactions make sure the patient is ok, or call ER for them.
Patients shouldn't have to think about their condition more than they have to. So, the app has to be designed to be completely utilitarian - users should only use NURO on a need-basis.
Guardian ER Response
Allows guardians - Emergency Contacts to minors - to immediately contact emergency response once a seizure has been detected on their dependent.
A live reading graph that allows the user to see data from their NURO monitor.
Focused on the two features above, I tested the first prototype through Qualtrics. The choice of testing platform was to adhere to Brown University's IRB guidelines, and so the data produced must be on a Brown-supported application.
Patients are able to view a live recording of their brain data, see their seizure history, and edit what data her emergency contacts get to see.
Guardians are able to call the patient, or send their location and information to emergency response.
Guardians also have access to their dependent's history.
Due to IRB restrictions, we had to use the Qualtrics platform to get quantifiable data. Having to work with this restriction, I placed UI throughout the survey and utilized its "Hotspot" function to weave an interactive experience into the platform.
After the first round of user testing, we found that patients did not want to see a live reading of their monitor, concerned that having access to this information could be anxiety-inducing. So we redesigned the app to make it more approachable and easier to use.
Seeing the inner functions of your brain the moment you open Nuro could catalyze anxiety-inducing reaction.
Users noted that they were stressed interacting with the prototype. They said that if the information was readily available, it could be detrimental and push them over the edge - effectively spiraling into seizure.
Below are some stills from the redesign.
Post-seizure response system
A survey in post-detection mode allows patients to describe what symptoms they felt after confirming a seizure.
This benefits all user groups, as access to the information makes for clearer medical records.
Guardians and Emergency contacts Notification Interaction
Guardians and EC are able to receive an urgent notification about a seizure after the monitor detects a seizure.
They may choose to contact the epileptic themselves, or send the data to ER.
The guardian will also be able to see their minor's seizure history.
One pain that parents and guardians had are to keep track of past incidents. With Nuro, they have access to all past incidents through the app.
After our recent second round of testing, patients and guardians were overall 66% more satisfied with the app and its proposed functions.
Sometimes I poke in the engineering meetings, and get to see what they're working on and play with the equipment. Below are some documentation of their hardware testing for the wearable device. This is an MVP prototype for electronics.
Alpha wave tests with data translated onto an iOS device.
Arduino Mega, Bluetooth module, Electrode Amplifiers, and Saline Contact-electrodes.
Here's a video of the app being used by our two main user groups:
The patient and their Emergency Contact.