LifeCase and LifeApp System

Published Mar-02-10

A complete diabetes management device using phones already in widespread use. The innovation turns a phone into a single testing and insulin administration system.

DiabetesMine, United States

The Story:

LifeCase and LifeApp System The most innovative ideas do not always come from a discipline’s own experts, sometimes answers are provided by individuals or groups in unrelated industries. They are not constrained by a particular field’s conventional approach and can view a problem from a new perspective. That is one of the advantages of open innovation.

Embracing Open Innovation

There is plenty of evidence to show that some of the most innovative ideas come from an intersection of disciplines, and one way to stimulate individuals from different fields is through open innovation. In recent years various branches of medicine have been starting to embrace it whole heartedly.

DiabetesMine is one of the most popular health blogs on the Internet that covers diabetes. In 2009 it launched the DiabetesMine Design Challenge to encourage students, engineers, inventors and entrepreneurs to come up with new ideas, tools and concepts to improve life for people with diabetes.

Diabetes Open Innovation Challenge

Diabetics typically have to rely on a considerable number of devices to manage their condition and these include pumps, meters and injectors. Amy Tenderich, the host of DiabetesMine wants things to change so that people with diabetes can have access to instruments that are easier to handle and control. And so she turned to the crowd to see what they could come up with.

The idea for the contest came to her after she posted an open letter to Apple CEO Steve Jobs in 2007 calling for the best consumer design experts to focus on and revolutionize the design of diabetes devices. In the months that followed large numbers of individuals and organizations come forward with ideas and prototypes for a range of gadgets including insulin pumps and glucose meters.

Inspired by this activity she set up the open innovation competition. A $17,000 prize fund was provided by the nonprofit California HealthCare Foundation and more than 150 entries were submitted.

Winning Submission

The Grand Prize winners were Eric Schickli and Samantha Katz, two graduate students from Northwestern University for their idea called LifeCase and LifeApp System.

It is a complete diabetes management solution that can be housed inside a mobile phone to replace the multiple devices that a person with diabetes has to carry with them.

The LifeCase attaches to a standard iPhone allowing users to manage every aspect of their condition. This hardware component integrates a glucose meter, lanser and strip storage into an iPhone case, and it uses the phone's screen to display information.

The LifeApp connects wirelessly with a user’s insulin pump which means it can be made smaller and less obtrusive as it no longer requires its own interface. What's more, this technology can be adapted for use on every type of smart phone.

Schickli and Katz received a $10,000 cash reward and are using their winnings to further develop their idea as Schickli discussed on the DiabetesMine website.

“We’d like to refine our system. We realize that not everybody would use all the features, so we’d like to make it more customizable, but the setup can’t be so complicated that it becomes a disincentive to use. Maybe we’ll create a full-blown app with all the data manipulation, and also a light version.”

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