Armchair interface-design critics like me love to kvetch about tablet apps that don’t quite work perfectly. But UIs for medical devices have much higher stakes. Aïmago, a medical tablet developed at EPFL’s Science Park, rises to the challenge of accurately diagnosing burn victims by imaging the wounds with a laser to generate a real-time map of tissue damage based on blood flow. To quote Aïmago’s CEO, Michael Friedrich, “It works like radar for red blood cells.”
The difference between a burn that’s likely to heal on its own and one that will require skin grafts all comes down to blood flow, which is very difficult to assess with the naked eye, even for experienced medical professionals. The Aïmago tablet contains a laser that illuminates red blood cells, and a high-speed camera that detects their motion. The interface design is right out of Star Trek: A doctor simply waves the tablet over the burned areas and sees a color-coded “heat map” of tissue damage, letting her zero in on the critical areas fast.
Right now the Aïmago is attached to a giant metal arm, but it’s easy to imagine future refinements which could turn the tablet into a portable, tricorder-like device for field medics as well as ER doctors. But even now, the interface is equally useful for helping doctors involved in breast reconstruction, hand surgery, and frostbite treatment–any procedure where an accurate, real-time assessment of blood flow is critical, and intelligent data visualization means the difference between life and death.
[Top image by Zawezome]