Two medical devices win HFES Product Design Award

October 16, 2006

SANTA MONICA, CA --Two medical devices are the winners of the 2006 User-Centered Product Design Award. The award will be presented at a special session on Thursday, October 19, at 3:30 p.m. during the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society's 50th Annual Meeting at the Hilton San Francisco Hotel. The award, presented annually by the HFES Product Design Technical Group, recognizes innovative and user-centered approaches to human factors and industrial design.

The winning devices are the Medtronic Straightshot M4TM Microdebrider (a surgical handpiece used by ear, nose, and throat surgeons to remove tissue such as polyps) and Hospira's SymbiqTM Infusion System (a device that delivers intravenous fluids and medications to patients). Contributing to the winning design were Metaphase Design Group (Straightshot M4 Microdebrider) and HumanCentric Technologies, Inc. (Symbiq Infusion System). Representatives of Hospira and Metaphase Design Group will discuss the designs and the development process for each of their products at the special award session.

A panel of seven judges experienced in the development of a wide range of product types selected the winning products based on a systematic evaluation of three design criteria--functional obviousness, ease of operation, and creativity--and three development process criteria-- user research during concept development, user research during the design process, and the use of appropriate evaluation methods.

Speaking about the winning designs, judge Rob Tannen said, "Both the Straightshot M4 Microdebrider and the Symbiq Infusion System are medical products where even small errors in product design or usage can have catastrophic results. Both included end-user (health care practitioner) participation in the design and evaluation phases of development."

Award cochair Stan Caplan added, "This epitomizes the user-centered emphasis of the award, and it applies regardless of product type, as demonstrated by the two winners. The Straightshot M4 Microdebrider focused on improving a manual operation, and the Symbiq Infusion System focused on the software and hardware user interface."

These winning products join a distinguished group of past winners, which may be viewed at the Product Design Technical Group's Web site (
The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society is a multidisciplinary professional association of more than 4,500 persons in the United States and throughout the world. Its members include psychologists and other scientists, designers, engineers, and scientists, all of whom have a common interest in designing systems and equipment to be safe and effective for the people who operate and maintain them.

The Product Design Technical Group is dedicated to developing products that are useful, usable, safe, and desirable by applying human factors methods for research, design, and evaluation.

To obtain a press pass to the 50th Annual Meeting, please contact HFES Communications Director Lois Smith (, 310/394-1811).

Human Factors and Ergonomics Society

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