Apple iPod v. The Insulin Pump

Amy Tenderich writes one of (if not the) most influential blogs about diabetes, Diabetes Mine. Noting the news today about Apple selling its 100 millionth iPod and praising the exceptional industrial design of Apple products, she asks for Apple’s help in designing better medical devices. She points out blood glucose monitors and insulin pumps in particular (recent model insulin pump pictured above next to iPod). See her open letter to Steve Jobs here.

In the letter she notes that millions of people are tied to their medical devices, and can’t leave their home without them. Unlike the iPod, these devices help keep people with chronic conditions like diabetes alive.

There’s something else these devices do not have in common with the iPod – sensible design and attractive features. Tenderich says “most of these devices are clunky, make weird alarm sounds, are more or less hard to use, and burn quickly through batteries. In other words: their design doesn’t hold a candle to the iPod.”

She isn’t asking for Apple to actually get into the medical device business. Instead, she’s asking Steve Jobs to help jumpstart a little creativity in the space. She has three suggestions:

We have begun by brainstorming a number of actions that you and/or Apple could take to jumpstart this discussion:

* Sponsor a contest by Apple Inc. for best-designed med device from an independent party, and the winning item will receive a makeover from Jonathan Ive himself

* Conduct a “Med Model Challenge”: the Apple design team takes several existing medical devices and demonstrates how to “pimp” them to be more useful and cool

* Establish Apple Med Design School – offer a course on consumer design concepts to selected engineers from leading pharma companies

Frankly, all of these sound brilliant to me, and the press would have an absolute field day praising Apple were they to do any one of them. Apple PR, are you listening?