Intactile DESIGN designed the interface for the product FibroScan as well as the enhancement options for complementary use.

TOP 10 Chinese investments

By the end of 2013, Echosens is the 7th largest Chinese investment made in France thanks to its purchase in 2011 by a large pharmaceutical company.

Echosens Logo

Echosens is an international company operating in over 70 countries, with subsidiaries in Europe and Asia, and a growing range of products and services.
We are pleased that the innovation brought to the interface design has contributed to product excellence.

Logo Observeur du design

A 2012 Observeur du design Star was awarded to Intactile DESIGN for human–computer interaction (HCI) and to Nova Design for the object design of the device FibroScan 502 Touch, released by the company Echosens.

FibroScan 502 Touch, touch interface

Fibroscan 502 Touch interface

The FibroScan product

Fibroscan product and its interface

Moving upmarket

In 2009, Echosens considers upgrading its product FibroScan through building on a new overall design of the device. Two agencies are selected: Nova for the object design and ourselves, Intactile DESIGN, specializing in interface design.

On the market from 2004, the FibroScan is a highly innovative diagnostic tool that measures liver elasticity in a completely non-invasive way. This piece of equipment has revolutionized the practice of Hepatology around the world by limiting the use of liver biopsy which is a painful procedure. Non-invasive, simple and fast, it measures the health of the liver using low frequency elastic waves, called shear waves, whose propagation is monitored using ultrasonic waves.

From a marketing point of view, this new version will show a distinct evolution as it changes from keyboard / trackball interaction to direct touch interaction. On the one hand work on the object design by Nova and on the other our work on digital design has made the product available in a consistent range - employing the management of intermediate software versions to update old material and diversify usage.

Illustration of the range of Fibroscan products

Observing usage in situ

As a designer of usage, we chose to observe in situ the use of FibroScan in hospitals, and tracked its use in practice - user gestures and perceptions, their values and requirements plus their overall work environment.

What time was allowed for the measurement? What path does the eye take to look at the screen? How are abstract images understood by users who do not have the same level of training?

Our short qualitative pragmatic approach – as distinguished from a longer quantitative ergonomic assessment – allowed us to take a basic look at on-the-spot usage in a way that brought out the main features which would provoke the right design questions.

How participatory design
facilitates interdisciplinary work

Represented around the participatory design table were: a medical expert concerned with the protocol, a researcher, "a marketer", a head of training, a developer of visualization algorithms, an interface developer and ourselves - interface designers with our sketches and post-its. Suffice to say that each one mentally visualizes a different interface for each idea expressed verbally, especially when the idea requires the ability to represent a sequence of screens. The time spent identifying misunderstandings often left the team tired with nothing achieved.

It is at this level that the designer proves useful by manipulating the idea through visual media, like the communication wall, sketching, paper mock-ups of screens and storyboards. These low-tech tools can quickly outline screens, play out scenarios and convey them clearly and, above all, they can be modified on the spot. The finer details of interactions cannot be managed, but the basic concepts are established based on the skill sets represented around the table - each actor is obviously sensitive to very different points which are often not perceived or given the same value by others.

This time spent sharing key points related to various disciplines is always a moment of extreme wealth of exchange in the life of a company. It is an opportunity for sharing knowledge.

For example, the training part can bring up, while discussing a point of detail, difficulties regarding user comprehension that R&D has not thought of; or R&D conjures up possible developments to consider; or even the area of legal protocol, which sometimes creates paranoid self-censorship among others, can help resolve real-time situations.

Focus on the design of feedback pressure on the FribroScan sensor

To trigger a "shot" - triggering a low frequency wave stroke associated with ultrasonic waves - two feedbacks must be visible, legible and understandable simultaneously and without hesitation: that of the pressure of the probe and of the signal quality of the ultrasonic wave. For the latter, training on how to read the image is required; whereas for the pressure of the probe no special knowledge is required. So it could be significantly improved for a clear second level reading. Our intuition was simple, but the path to get to a final design is interesting to trace.

Old interface of Fibroscan

Extract from the existing interface. In the middle, real-time feedback of the ultrasonic wave; on the right, real-time feedback from the pressure sensor; on the left, a history of the ultrasonic wave which runs towards the left. During usage observation, it was found that users focus on the feedback from the ultrasonic wave and perceive the pressure feedback in their peripheral vision.

Our sketches made ​​during the first co-design meeting do not tell you anything, however they contain all the basic ideas. You can see that the probe was drawn behind the words pressure; a symbol could be combined with feedback. Green dashed lines show the direction of the wave sent from top to bottom. A circle surrounds them as well as the upper areas of the ultrasonic wave previews. What if the feedback pressure was placed in this area? Then we would break the alignment of the three vertical sections that suggest a sequence, and express more simultaneity by vertically linking the pressure with the image of the ultrasonic feedback. The pressure graphics could be directly at the bottom, unframed, in order to put it on another plane.

Sketch of feedback pressure, Fibroscan sensor

Proposal in the form of paper mock-ups on which the two sources of feedback are distinguished. These are associated vertically to emphasize the temporal simultaneity. Search for more evocative graphics for the concept of pressure

Throughout the versions the graphic feedback of the pressure sensor loses its distended form and takes on a more circular shape, more suggestive of a concept of a pressure fashioned with a tubular object. It is associated vertically to the real time feedback of the ultrasonic wave sensor. The result being a more logical reading. When the probe is not in contact, the interface is silent and as soon as it is the feedback images are displayed and those in real time move together on a vertical line.

An analogy is made between the specific area of ​​ultrasound imaging and the patient's body through the placement of pressure feedback on the border between the upper zone that contains more external information, such as patient name, time, etc., and the lower area of the ultrasound image. Without pressure, the limit is flat. With pressure, it deepens and feedback appears around it. The logic is complete when it is known that the white wave line moves from the top downward or from the patient's skin to the inside of the body. In the final design, this idea is taken even further with the graphic suggestion of the probe tip and feedback in a semicircle shape that evokes the waves being sent.

This coherence between the attention capacity of the user, the technological background and the graphic layout of the interface events as well as their arrangement relative to each other, subsequently enabled the easy integration of a new help function into the preview analysis that can be seen between the pressure feedback and the ultrasonic wave feedback. The story behind this detail, which comes down to a single line of light, could also give rise to an instructive analysis about the relationship between algorithm design and design creation!

Intactile Design star!

Awarded a star of design for interface Fibroscan

The APCI awarded a 2012 Observateur du design Star to Intactile DESIGN for human–computer interaction (HCI) and to Nova Design for the object design of the device FibroScan 502 Touch, released by the company Echosens.

Observeur du design The competition seeks out innovative achievements based on design to which it awards the Observeur du design label. Each year it recognizes excellence by awarding design Stars and awards from partners (Ministry of Industry, Secretary of State for Digital Development, City of Paris, Lieu de design, OSEO and INPI). The Observeur holds "the international competition" label of the ICSID (International Council of Societies of Industrial Design), an institution of reference in terms of design.

Linked projects