How does a medical start-up with limited resources work through early design hurdles to get from idea to product? Clear Guide Medical had constructed proof-of-concept models for an ultrasound guidance system which could improve the accuracy of needle intervention procedures. They had secured grant funding, but realized that they needed a professional mechanical design team to work alongside their software and electrical engineering teams to move to the next level.
“SPARK helped to educate the team at Clear Guide Medical as novices in product development. The experts at SPARK helped us to make informed design decisions rather than forcing us into a single design option.”
(Executive Vice President, Clear Guide Medical)
CLEAR GUIDE MEDICAL
Clear Guide Medical is a start-up company stemming from Johns Hopkins University’s Biomedical Engineering program. Their core technology revolved around an ultrasound probe attachment that reads the positioning of any needle product in its field of view and creates an on-screen overlay to help doctors aim for small targets prior to insertion. During insertion, the needle trajectory is tracked and highlighted on screen to assure confident and accurate placement and minimize mistakes, even in deeper procedures.
The device needed to remain compact, comfortable and well-balanced, so it would not interfere with clinician’s known habits and procedures. This included exploring methods to securely attach the device to existing ultrasound probes without modifying the probe itself in any way. Additionally, SPARK worked with Clear Guide on methods to create sterile covers that did not interfere with optical performance.
FROM IDEA TO PRODUCT
SPARK worked closely with Clear Guide to produce a series of functional prototypes that precisely captured increasingly refined electronics and optical components and explored a variety of probe attachments. As Clear Guide’s software and camera imaging system continued to evolve, several major revisions necessitated complete mechanical redesigns of the housing.
Conscious of the start-up’s budget, SPARK was careful to control the budgetary impacts of this iterative process. SPARK also aimed to educate Clear Guide on the implications of various design decisions so they could remain informed and confident in their choices throughout the process.
MOVING TO PRODUCTION
As the product was refined, SPARK provided manufacturing advice, designing parts with production in mind, so a major redesign effort would not be necessary when it came time for product launch. This early effort helped lay the groundwork for the first run of their “Clear Guide One” product which was distributed for field testing and further fund raising. Clear Guide has continued to refine their Clear Guide One product and now offer an additional “Scenergy” product and several accessories.