We are proud to announce the award-winning design consultancy, TEAMS Design, has won our See Change Challenge. Launched in July 2016, the challenge called for innovative solutions to improve the lives of the 2.5 billion people who cannot see the world clearly by facilitating access to vision care. TEAMS Design developed an easy-to-use, low cost, scalable solution called “QuickCheck”.
Together with TEAMS Design we will pilot Quick Check in base of the pyramid countries where our inclusive business arm, 2.5 New Vision Generation, has successfully established inclusive business models and trained primary vision care providers. QuickCheck can enable them to detect refractive errors and to bring good vision to their communities in underserved areas.
We talked to Paul Hatch, CEO, TEAMS Design USA, about what motivated him and his team to participate in the challenge, what were the obstacles they had to overcome and where they see the real benefit of their design idea to improve the access to eye care.
How did you hear about the See Change Challenge and what were your motivations to participate in it?
We heard about it through the announcement by NineSigma. We were motivated to participate in it by the topic – the chance to design for a good cause and help so many people was very appealing and something we wanted to be a part of.
We were motivated to participate in it by the topic – the chance to design for a good cause and help so many people was very appealing and something we wanted to be a part of.
The objective of the challenge was to uncover “low-cost, easy-to-use and scalable solutions” that can speed up the delivery of primary vision care in under-served populations. Could you explain, in simple words, how the tool, that you developed works and fulfills these criteria?
The element of low-cost was a driving factor for the creation of our idea, we wanted to find the simplest, cheapest method so that it really can reach as many people as possible. It was important to us to start with the user-need and context and create ideas around that, rather than starting with the technology. So we imagined a possible eco-system in which this low-cost item would easily be passed from person to person in places far beyond the reach of trained personnel.
We generated several ideas early on, and this stick-like format was very compelling, it was both durable and very portable. It was also very intuitive; without any instruction the user knows to look through one end and would easily discover that turning the knob brings the image into focus. The marking on the side then reports the user’s diopter -simple!
What are the advantages of QuickCheck compared to existing solutions?
While the physics behind this concept have been understood since 1759, the drive for increased accuracy has led to using complex technology to diagnose people’s eyesight, making solutions very expensive. QuickCheck does not use any electronics at all and while not as accurate as modern technological testing devices, it does achieve more-than-adequate accuracy for an initial diagnosis, while being a fraction of the cost.
Could you briefly explain the development process of QuickCheck from the first idea to the production of the actual prototype? What were the major challenges that you met and how did you deal with them?
We did some initial research into the target countries, and how the lack of existing awareness is hindering any existing efforts to bring solutions. We assumed an eco-system where a person in a town or village would be able to hand-out a device to others to take to neighboring villages for self-diagnosis.
Through brainstorming and prototyping we explored five possible concepts that could work, and eventually merged the best elements of these into one. On testing the resulting prototype with a larger number of test-subjects, we found that we were seeing the results we were expecting, but there were many anomalies that contradicted everything else.
Through brainstorming and prototyping we explored five possible concepts that could work, and eventually merged the best elements of these into one.
After some initial visits to local optometrists and experts in the field, we were able to understand the issues with the system and refine our concept. Several prototypes later we were getting consistent results, thus proving the QuickCheck concept as a viable testing device.
Looking back, not being from the eye care industry certainly hindered us in the development stages, but it was that that led us to the idea in the first place; being unshackled by existing assumptions allowed us to create a breakthrough hypothesis based upon the unmet needs of the user rather than technology.
Where do you hope to see QuickCheck in 5 years? Could you think of any optimization of the tool that would need to be developed or could you think of any complementary tool that could be created to be used along with it?
We are going to work with Essilor to help bring this into production, in doing so we will undertake more field trials and improve the usability and accuracy even further. We do see this being just part of a full eco-system and hope to help build a holistic solution that can make a last impact.
Let’s assume you could launch the next innovation challenge related to vision correction and/or protection; what would this challenge be about?
It would be interesting to look for a self-funding business model or eco-system that could bring low-cost frames to developing countries.
Learn more on the See Change Challenge website.