DtM in the News: Firefly Featured on PBS NewsHour

Firefly was recently featured on PBS Newshour in an excellent piece about EMW’s Breath of Life program to save newborn lives. The piece outlined the amazing work that the East Meets West Foundation and MTTS have done in Vietnam. Before 2000, the mortality rate of the neonatal intensive care unit was fifteen percent. Last year it was less than two percent. Dr. Ngoc Diep Pham explained, “In Vietnam, the mortality rate has come down by two-thirds since 2009. Life for doctors and patients is far better.” Thanks to the East Meets West Foundation and MTTS for discussing our partnership as part of this great feature! 

DtM Kicks off CPAP Design Workshops

Today, Design that Matters kicked off a series of design workshops and product implementation coaching with Dr. Ryan Carroll to design an innovative Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) device to save babies from respiratory distress and pneumonia. Pneumonia is the leading cause of death in children under five worldwide - more than AIDS, Malaria, or TB. The goal of our collaboration is to expose the CPAP team to design thinking methods and help the team construct strategies for implementing CPAP to have massive impact for the poor in LMICs.

In our first work session together, we were joined by Smitha Gudapakkam from the MGH Center for Global Health. We covered a lot of ground, including forming a point of view about the need, users, and context for the project; creating an hypothesis for how the program will reach massive impact; prioritizing critical assumptions for the project to reach impact; and then brainstorming over 50 ideas for how how the CPAP could be supplied to hospitals. Throughout the workshop, we used quick sketching techniques to make ideas easier to understand and more memorable. 

In one exercise, we drew slider bars to better depict tensions inherent in the project. One of the central tensions is between making a device that is extremely easy-to-use right out of the box, versus an assembly of off-the-shelf parts that can be more easily repaired. In the United States, CPAP is one of the few devices that is often assembled by healthcare professionals from off-the-shelf parts, even at the highest level hospitals. Ryan noted that having local technicians and healthcare providers build the devices themselves becomes a critical milestone in their training, building confidence to treat babies. 
The workshop was just in time for Ryan to return to Uganda and put these new methods and ideas to work. We look forward to hearing back from Uganda and to taking design thinking even further in our next workshop this Fall!

About the CAMTech CPAP
The CPAP is the center of a novel education program to enable hospitals to diagnose and effectively treat respiratory distress, while building capacity to repair their own CPAP devices locally. The project received the MGH Center for Global Health CAMTech Innovation Award in 2013. Dr. Ryan Carroll is currently co-creating the training program and device with team members from the Mbarara University of Science and Technology and Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital in Uganda.

My Time at Design That Matters

After an eventful six months David Solomon, our Interaction Intern, headed back to Northeastern to continue his studies. Before he left David wrote a brief post reflecting on his time at DtM. We are sad to see him go but we look forward to keeping tabs on the awesome work we know he'll produce in his future career.

What is Design that Matters? What do they do? What would I do during my internship at DtM if I got the position? These were all questions I asked myself when I received an email newsletter about a spring and summer internship at Design that Matters. Most of these questions were answered during my interview but certain aspects of a job can not be explained in words. They have to be experienced. An internship is meant to benefit both the employer and employee; we learn and grow from each other in ways we can't imagine.

So, Design that Matters is a design studio that specializes in innovation for social enterprise. DtM redesigns products that work great in developed countries, making them operate just as well or better in developing countries. I was hired as an interactive design intern. My main role was to develop new interactions for current projects. These are what the team call "works-like" prototypes. These prototypes are not the real device, but they operate in a way that, without any explanation, a user can quickly understand what the device does and how it will work. The challenge for me was to make sure that, every time a prototype was turned on, the user had an experience that not only wowed them but also encouraged them to provide feedback and identify different ways the device could be used to help save lives worldwide. 

During my internship I learned a lot more than just how to make awesome prototypes and work on projects. I also learned about social enterprise, running a non-profit, product development, impact labs, and fundraising.

A few projects that I worked on during my time at DtM were Firefly Internet of Things (IoT) and Project Pelican. I used my prior knowledge of Arduino, a small programmable board that can sense and interact with objects in the physical world, and electronics. With these skills, I was able to integrate small interactions into early prototypes of Project Pelican. These included programming a light sensor and an LED to turn on and print to a display screen the current heart rate and blood oxygen level. Later on, as the project moved forward, I helped with more advanced programming. I contributed to the RISD and MIT student team’s work, adding to their code so the prototype would turn on when placed on a baby’s foot and turn off when it was removed from the foot.

The Firefly Internet of Things (IoT) project was new to DtM and to me. I was familiar with the concept of "Internet of Things" and connected devices, but I had never worked on a project that incorporates this concept. I started my work on the project not knowing what I was going to do or how I was going to accomplish it. I started by trying to connect a mini 3D-printed version of the Firefly phototherapy device to the internet using an Electric Imp. Using the Imp, an Arduino board, and a sensor, I could capture information -- such as the time and temperature of the room where the device was situated -- and send an email or text message containing that information to a user. For the next iteration of Firefly IoT, I added a SMS shield to the Arduino board. This enabled the device to send data anywhere that has cell service. To advance this project, DtM participated in a Hack-a-thon hosted by MIT H@cking Medicine, the Kauffman Foundation, and CAMTech. There, they formed a team called Datawings. The team and I were able to integrate my current prototype and capabilities with a website they designed to provide users with a visual representation of the data being collected from the mini Firefly device. Now, anytime we turned on the Firefly device, it would send the team current data, such as the temperature of the room, voltage, pressure, and total time the device had been in use.

- David Solomon, DtM Interaction Intern, 10 June 2014

We wish David well on his future endeavors and hope he'll visit us at the studio again soon. Thanks for all your help, David. We couldn't have made such great progress without you!


DtM Welcomes John Gould to Our Board of Advisors

John has an MBA from Babson College and over 30 years of successful experience in the management of high technology businesses. He served as VP Sales & Marketing for a high technology start-up that went public during his tenure and was owner and president of an international software distribution company.  

John established The Gould Family Foundation to support humanitarian organizations that serve the poor in the developing world. John is Director of the foundation. The Foundation supports the international mission work of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur including building a school, upgrading hospitals and clinics in the Congo and establishing Small Family Farm programs in Peru and the Congo. It also supports the work of IMEC, a humanitarian organization that upgrades hospitals and clinics and equips small family farms and schools in the developing world.

John serves on the Board of IMEC. He founded and is involved in the management of the Youth Mountain Adventure Program, which serves underprivileged, urban youth, with the Appalachian Mountain Club.  

DtM Indiegogo Closes with 130 Contributors & 228% its Goal!

We did it! We reached over 228% of our funding goal, thanks to 130 contributors from the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Kenya. Over 39 days, 4249 people visited the Pelican campaign from 35 countries, spreading awareness about childhood pneumonia across the globe. Your help will allow us to push forward with the development of the Pelican Pulse Oximeter. We'll continue to build awareness of pneumonia as a major global health issue. 

Congratulations to Ashley McGregor Dey, winner of our Squawking Pelican Contest! Ashley shared the Pelican campaign through Indiegogo’s social media links, leading to 50 people visiting our campaign. Runners up are Bre DiGiammarino and Kevin Wiesner with 26 and 20 campaign visitors respectively.

Thanks again for all of your help! We couldn't have done it without you. If you or someone you know is still interested in contributing to the campaign, you can make a secure donation to Design that Matters on our website!

Indiegogo Website Banner v2 (Our Indiegogo Sponsors).jpg

Firefly: Certificate of Free Sale

In June, DtM manufacturing partner MTTS received a Certificate of Free Sale (CFS) from the Vietnamese Ministry of Health for Firefly Newborn Phototherapy. Recognized by the ASEAN member nations, this type of medical device regulatory approval clears Firefly for sale in ten countries in the region--a market of 600 million people with over one million babies in need of phototherapy every year.  MTTS is now pursuing CE Mark approval which will open access to many more countries around the world including India, a country of 1.2 billion people and over two million babies in need of phototherapy each year.

Dassault Systèmes and SOLIDWORKS have just matched our $10k Indiegogo campaign!

Dassault Systèmes and SOLIDWORKS have just matched our $10k Indiegogo campaign bringing our current total to over $20,000!! Thank you for supporting our Indiegogo campaign and helping Design that Matters fight pneumonia, the leading cause of death in children worldwide.

We are proud to announce the support of our premier platinum sponsor, Dassault Systèmes and SOLIDWORKS. Design that Matters uses SOLIDWORKS® 3D software to design each of our products, from early sketches through final design for manufacture. Check out this 5 min video to see how DtM used SOLIDWORKS to design Firefly phototherapy to treat 500,000 newborns with jaundice in Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. This Spring, we have already used SOLIDWORKS to bring early ideas to life for the Pelican project. Funding provided will diagnose 5,000 babies. Thank you so much Dassault Systèmes and SOLIDWORKS!

Firefly Featured at the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA)

We are happy to announce that Firefly is currently being featured in its first museum! Starting on May 25th, Firefly has been a part of the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) show titled, Design for Social Impact. The exhibit runs till August 3rd so if you are in Atlanta, you should try to swing by and see one of the first Beta units that was used in our initial clinical trials. We hope that the exhibit helps to inspire a new generation of great minds willing to use their skills to make the world a better place!

Design that Matters would like to express our sincere thanks to our Firefly project partners the East Meets West Foundation and Vietnamese manufacturer Medical Technology Transfer and Services. Their partnership made Firefly possible. 

Additional thanks to Firefly’s lead donors: The Lemelson Foundation, The van Otterloo Family, Bohemian Foundation, an anonymous donor, ANT Italy - Friends of Trento Neonatology, The Autonomous Province of Trento, Italy, and Martin and Debbie Hale.

DtM CEO Presents Global Health Data Service Concept at O’Reilly’s Solid Conference

On May 22, DtM CEO Timothy Prestero spoke on the main stage at the inaugural O’Reilly Solid Conference, created to explore the oncoming convergence of hardware and software. Tim used Firefly phototherapy to illustrate why devices designed for high-income countries don't work and what to do about it. Thanks to DtM intern David Solomon and DtM volunteer Galia Traub, Tim demonstrated communication between a mock-up global health device and an app using mobile networks. DtM’s proof of concept is the beginning of a data service that could dramatically improve global health impact in developing countries.

This novel data service would allow us to track the operational status of medical equipment in developing countries: which devices aren't being used (suggesting a need for more training), and which devices need maintenance.  We could use this service to preferentially track those devices that have the greatest potential social impact and represent the greatest environmental impact if they are discarded. This would allow the most efficient application of a country's limited resources for medical device servicing and repair.

DtM intern David Solomon used arduino, a GPRS shield, and an SIM card to create hardware capable of sending data from a medical device’s internal computer to a data management app through mobile phone networks.

DtM volunteer Galia Traub used Herokuapp and to create an app that can receive information from a device, and then format it into meaningful actionable data. Dummy data appears here for the purpose of illustration.

About the O’Reilly Solid Conference

Physical things—machines, devices, components—are about to experience a profound transformation. The Internet fundamentally changed how software is developed and deployed, and now hardware is on the brink of a similar disruption. Industry is realizing that smart, networked machines can bring them the efficiencies and new capabilities to do more, faster and cheaper. Devices from thermostats to jet engines that were once strictly mechanical are now seamless blends of hardware and software—packages of microcontrollers, sensors, and, above all, networked software that can ingest lots of data, understand context, and make intelligent decisions. Hardware and software are fusing into a single fluid entity. This collision of software and hardware is fueling the creation of a software-enhanced, networked physical world.

Anything from an Uber car to a railroad locomotive can be sold as a service, provided that it’s adequately instrumented and dispatched by intelligent software. Good data from the physical world brings about efficient markets, makes cheating difficult, and improves quality of service. And it will revolutionize business models in every industry as service contracts replace straightforward equipment sales. Instead of owning an air conditioner and buying electricity from a utility to run it, a homeowner might let the utility own the air conditioner and just buy a contract to keep her house at 72°, giving the utility an incentive to invest in more efficient equipment, while creating economies of scale.

Our guiding principle is to give our audience a visceral feel for this world of combined hardware and software. We're going for something that feels less like a conference, and more like a miniature World's Fair Exposition with talks.

Tim’s talk at Solid is part of DtM's series sharing lessons learned from the design and launch of Firefly phototherapy. This series is made possible with support from The Lemelson Foundation in celebration of 20 years of improving lives through invention.

Holy Smokes! DtM Pelican Indiegogo Passes 100 Funders!


In just 4 days we have gone from 66 supporters to over 100! This is totally unexpected and incredibly exciting news! We can't express the importance of this outpouring of Pelican support as we begin to scale the project. Help us build the campaign further as we continue to raise awareness for newborn pneumonia, the number one killer of children under five.

Your show of support means more attention and resources to solve this serious problem and bring us closer to a world of happy moms. Please help us by sharing on Facebook and Twitter, blogging, and spreading the word! Thank you!

MIT + RISD Pelican Team Update: Final Review

After a gruelling semester of ups and downs our MIT + RISD team has reached their final presentation, and what a presentation it was! The team’s final design addresses needs  DtM had identified from overseas and new insights the student team uncovered during research with health care providers in Boston. Their concept embodies a variety of qualities that make it suited for the developing world context, some include: 

  • All in one design: eliminates unruly cords that can be easily damaged
  • Compact, but not too small: small enough to carry around, but harder to accidentally lose
  • Constant Alignment: hinged jaw design keeps sensors aligned, no room for user error
  • Torsion Spring: pressure on baby’s foot is controlled by a spring, not the user
  • Accommodates Many Foot Sizes: hinged design allows for quick adjustment
  • Trigger: no need to fumble with band-aid style sensors, the trigger is simple and intuitive
  • Only necessary features: only settings or readings that are needed

We are incredibly proud with all that the team has accomplished this past semester, and can't wait to test the concept in the field with a variety of our internal sacrificial concepts. Thank you Aditya, Esther, Keiichi, Kevin, Leah, Phillip, Shubhang, Victoria and Wei for all of your hard work! We look forward to working with you as we move Pelican forward!

Check out a video of their concept below!

- Will Harris, IDSA
  DtM Designer

DtM Welcomes Steven P. Wentzell to Our Board of Advisors

Steve recently retired as the SVP of Human Resources for Dynamics Research Corporation (DRC), a $300M federal IT/Business Systems contractor in Andover, MA. For ten years, he was responsible for leading all aspects of DRC's human resources functions, talent acquisition, executive development and retention, internal communications and chair of the DRC Ethics Committee in support of the achieving the company's strategic business objectives. DRC was acquired by Engility Corporation in 2014.

Prior to joining DRC, Steve was a senior human resource executive within high-growth, leading- edge technology solutions organizations. As Senior Vice President for Human Resources at Brooks Automation, he was a key to the successful integration between Brooks and PRI Automation. Previous to that, he held several Human Resources leadership roles in the support of new business start-ups and high growth businesses within Digital Equipment Corporation. Steve is a graduate of the University of New Hampshire and Columbia University's Advanced Program in Organization Development and Human Resources Management. 

DtM Indiegogo Reaches $10K Goal!

We made it to $10,000! Thank you so much to our 66 supporters. We still have 24 days left, and we have set a stretch goal of reaching 100 contributors!

Your show of support means more attention and resources to solve this serious problem and bring us closer to a world of happy moms. Please help us by sharing on Facebook and Twitter, blogging, and spreading the word! Thank you!

What a Great First 24 Hours! Thank You to Our Pelican Indiegogo Sponsors!

We could never have succeeded without our corporate sponsors who supported us from the very beginning of the campaign. Sponsorship gave us the early momentum that led to our ultimate success. We have worked closely with all of our sponsors and recommend their services highly! Please take a minute to check out the great work of Premier Platinum Sponsors Dassault Systèmes and SOLIDWORKS, Gold Sponsors Optikos Corporation and Boston Design Solutions, and Silver Sponsor Supporting Strategies.


The Optikos Corporation optical engineering team, along with CEO Stephen D. Fantone, has donated key technical insight and strategy from our early days designing the DtM Kinkajou Microfilm Projector to our most recent launch, Firefly Phototherapy. We look forward to solving the toughest technical problems with Optikos during Project Pelican. Funding provided by Optikos will diagnose 1,000 babies. Thank you so much, Optikos!


Boston Design Solutions provides outstanding hardware and software engineering design services on-time and on-budget. BDS specified, designed, built, tested, and successfully delivered the electronics for Design that Matters’ three Firefly clinical evaluation prototypes. To-date, the devices have been used in Vietnam for over 850 days collectively, treating over 150 jaundiced newborns and defying the term “prototype”. Funding provided by BDS will diagnose 1,250 babies as part of DtM’s Pelican project. Thank you so much Boston Design Solutions!


Supporting Strategies makes our bookkeeping easy so Design that Matters can focus on saving lives. One morning, we arrived at the DtM office to find that the box with all our paper tax documents was missing! We’d left them too close to the trash can, and they were mistaken for trash! We thanked our lucky stars for our partnership with Supporting Strategies, who ensures that copies of all our paper records also live in the digital world. Funding provided by Supporting Strategies will diagnose 500 babies. Thank you so much Supporting Strategies!

MIT + RISD Pelican Team Update: Design Review

We would like to take this opportunity to showcase the fantastic work our MIT + RISD student team been doing to ramp up Project Pelican, especially after seeing their great design review this past week. Some of the highlights include:

  • Conducting user interviews with a variety of stakeholders including local nurses and moms.
  • Creating a “works-like” prototype design with all of the electronics necessary to work as a real pulse oximeter.
  • Creating a “looks-like” prototype design that takes into account both the mechanics and usability.
  • Building new relationships with local health care providers who have experience in global health and will assist DtM throughout Project Pelican.
  • Designing the groovy Pelican logo we have adopted!

We are just weeks away from the student team’s final presentation and we can't wait to see what they produce!

- Will Harris, IDSA
  DtM Designer

DtM Launches Indiegogo Campaign to Save Babies Worldwide from Pneumonia

In honor of Mother’s Day and mothers around the world, Design that Matters invites you to support our crowdfundingcampaign, hosted on Indiegogo's freshly redesigned platform.
We are raising $10,000 to launch the Pelican Pocket Pulse Oximeter Project to create a durable, affordable tool for diagnosing babies with pneumonia.

We’re also raising awareness of pneumonia, a condition that we in the U.S. hardly ever worry about, and the #1 cause of death in children under five. 

We need as many people as possible to join our campaign to build the momentum we need to fight newborn pneumonia. Take action:

Even if you can't contribute financially, please help us spread the word about Project Pelican and pneumonia awareness!

Hackathon Team Continues to Develop Prototypes

Our new, superstar “DataWings for Firefly” hackathon team will continue their work as part of a Harvard’s Creative Explorations in Screen-Based and Physical Computing with instructors Bakhtiar Mikhak and Alec Resnick. The result will be a more feature-rich demonstration of what we could do with sms data from Firefly devices in the field. Our Interaction Intern, David Solomon, will work with data superstar Galia Traub, to create this next iteration. The prototype will demonstrate how the Internet of Things can be applied beyond smart refrigerators and office chairs, to improve outcomes in global health!



MIT + RISD Pelican Team Update: Sketch Model Prototyping

This week DtM Designer, Will Harris, traveled to Providence to create some quick “sacrificial prototypes” with RISD Industrial Designers Leah Chung and Kevin Wiesner. Sacrificial prototypes are the earliest of early stage prototypes that are used in product design to illuminate what you don’t know about the problem, and more quickly reach a realistic concept. Some of our internal Pelican “sacrificial prototypes” helped us better understand that we did not fully understand the problem of medical devices accidentally “walking away” from hospitals.

During the work session the team made some big strides, which included: 

  • Making physical mock ups of the driver board the select along with different battery sizes. After doing that and seeing the actual sizes we were able to start making sketch models based upon those components.
  • Creating very simple models and embraced the free pink (blue in this occasion) foam that the RISD model shop had, and focused more on what types of forms or mechanisms that needed to create to fit different sized infant feet.
  • Were able to create six new concepts that can form to various newborn feet. 

It was an incredibly productive day that lead to some of the first student team physical concepts, allowing them to start doing user interviews at Hospitals around Boston. 

- Will Harris, IDSA
  DtM Designer

DtM and CAMTech Partner for Healthcare's Grand H@ckfest

The DtM team served as a mentor and partner for Healthcare's Grant H@ckfest. This 48-hour hackathon was hosted by MIT H@cking Medicine, the Kauffman Foundation, and CAMTech. Elizabeth gave a keynote to the more than 350 students, young entrepreneurs, engineers, and medical professionals, using the story of Firefly to illustrate the importance of developing a focused project statement. 

During the pitch sessions, DtM presented a new project idea -- a system for connecting medical devices such as Firefly to donors, hospitals, NGOs, and service technicians via sms text message. Our hackathon team, “DataWings for Firefly,” created a working data visualization prototype that won an athenahealth award. The DataWings team was so inspired by the experience that they will continue to work on the project in hopes of creating a proof of concept that we can present during 2014.

Elizabeth's talk at Healthcare's Grand H@ckfest is part of our series sharing lessons learned from the design and launch of Firefly phototherapy. This series is made possible with support from The Lemelson Foundation in celebration of 20 years of improving lives through invention.

DtM Welcomes Leith Greenslade to Our Board of Advisors

Our Board of Advisors is expanding fast! This month we are honored to announce that Leith Greenslade has joined our Board of Advisors, bumping our network of industry experts to a whole new level!

Leith is Vice Chair, Office of the UN Special Envoy for Financing the Health Millennium Development Goals  (MDGs) and Co-Chair of Child Health at the MDG Health Alliance, which work in support of the UN Secretary-General’s Every Woman, Every Child movement to accelerate achievement of the MDGs and advance the health of women and children globally. Serving in several positions with the Australian Government, including as Policy Advisor and Speechwriter to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Health, as Economic Adviser to the Leader of the Opposition and as Chief of Staff to the Shadow Minister for Social Security and the Status of Women, Leith holds a Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School, a Masters in Business Administration from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and a First Class Honors Degree from the University of Queensland. Leith lives in New York City with her three daughters and is a passionate advocate for the empowerment of women and children.