BlueWind is a medical neuro-stimulation device for the treatment of various clinical indications such as Peripheral Neuropathic Pain (PNP) and Over Active Bladder (OAB). A wireless and battery-less device, BlueWind is 90% smaller than other neuro-stimulators. This enables physicians to conduct minimally invasive treatment (in the case of OAB it is a simple procedure that lasts only 30 minutes) and to place the device near the tibial nerve in the lower leg instead of the pelvic area.
The device stimulates the tibial nerve electrically and is powered wirelessly by an external control unit (ECU) worn around the patient’s leg. The ECU is controlled via a watch worn by the patient on the wrist, or a mobile application on a smart phone. Patients conduct self-treatment for only 30 minutes a day, and can use the device without interrupting their daily tasks.
An estimated 66 million people in the EU and 43 million in the USA suffer from OAB or PNP, a disease that adversely affects quality of life. BlueWind simplifies treatment, lowers the frequency of clinic visits, and greatly improves the daily life of patients.
“Our main task was to characterize, design and develop a smart watch application that will enable patients to operate and control treatment discreetly and intuitively”, says Itai Rechnitz, the project manager.
“The customer approached us when smart watch technology was emerging and there was doubt regarding the solution’s viability. So, our first task was to make sure the Bluetooth communication between the device and the ECU was dependable enough for a medical device.”
In addition, there were many open questions regarding ease of use. The solution, for example, is used by a population of varying ages and technological skill. So there was a lot of work to be done in terms of characterizing the user experience on the new platform.
Other challenges included creating a level of clearness and contrast that would enable using the application outdoors, deploying it on a new operating system (Android Wear), expressing the Company’s brand colors and style within the application design, keeping battery use to a minimum during communication, synchronizing the patient status gage, and more.”
The project scope included the full product cycle, including planning, feasibility testing, product characterization, user experience, graphic design, product development, testing and delivery.
Spectory developed a smart watch application that communicates with the device planted in the patient’s lower leg. The application is a dedicated app running on an Android Wear operating system and written in Native Java for Android 5. Communication with the device is via BT with intention to move to BLE to enable support for both the device and the watch. The communication protocol is a dedicated protocol provided by the customer.
According to Eyal Lapid, a developer on the project, “we started by taking an older version of the application created for a smart phone, transferred it to the watch and then develop additional features.”
“Our main task was the new interface. The smart watch user-experience is very different from that of a smart phone: communication and control is done using only a small screen showing limited data, and a couple of buttons, sounds and lights.
We had a crazy timetable, but Spectory showed a willingness to go the extra mile so we could make it to the deadline
In the case of BlueWind, for example, the patient is required to do a delicate balancing act of changing treatment intervals or increasing the intensity of the current sent to the nerve. It was a real challenge setting up a user interface and flow that would enable patients of any age to conduct these actions through a smart watch.”
Adding to the complexity was the fact that communication was based on an earlier protocol developed by the customer. “We had to take the protocol developed by BlueWind,” says Eyal, “and build it in modular architecture. That meant a lot of refactoring work, which is never easy. And true to a medical product, we also had a lot of testing to do.”
What the Customer Says