“Medical design, inventing care solutions for tomorrow” Report

November 21, 2012

International Symposium
“Medical design, inventing care solutions for tomorrow” Report

I was privileged to deliver a talk at the symposium “Medical Design” held in Saint Etienne, France. My presentation concentrated on Toyota’s medical healthcare robots that are under development. Many groups and individuals converged at the event, including leading businesses from Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and France including Philips; product designers from Thuasne, a medical textile company not so well known in Japan but boasting the world’s largest market share of joint support products; as well as researchers and students, all of whom actively engaged in discussions on medical care-related design.

Populations around the world are rapidly aging, and the development of healthcare products will be an important issue and merit further research in each country. As I understand it, the impetus for this symposium stemmed from the expectation that we will see a drastic evolution of healthcare design to improve the quality of life, as healthcare product design is still in the development stage.

I had been looking forward to seeing what kinds of discussions would ensue at this medical care symposium, and they ranged from product design to the design of medical environments in which these products would be used, and then on to diagnostic information presentation design.

Among the two keynote speakers and nine general presenters, I was the sole engineer, so supposed my talk about robotics development would be unique. Indeed, the audience was fascinated by the presentation, the only one from Japan (and the only one from Asia), and many people approached me with interest and questions before and after my talk; It became clear to me that in Europe as well, with the increasing elderly population there is a rising interest in caregiving robots. It was my hope that the audience members will take in the role played by design not only in outward appearance, but also in the human/machine interface, as intelligent machines employing robotic technology enter the medical environment.

By participating in the symposium, I was also able to learn quite a bit as an engineer. Many speakers emphasized the importance of team-based product development involving designers from the early stages. Indeed, engineers have begun to shed light on problems in the conventional technology-oriented approach. I was particularly interested in something many designers mentioned: the product design/development approach in the field in which users are included in the process. I also identified with viewpoints involving environmental design for hospitals and other medical facilities.

I hope to make good use of this vital experience to pursue product development in robotics.

Hitoshi Konosu


Hitoshi KONOSU

Project Manager/Engineer, Partner Robot Division, Toyota Motor Corporation

Date:Tuesday, 20 November, 2012

Cité du design(Saint-Etienne, France)

Organizer:Cité du design, Saint-Etienne