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Sleep and Respiratory

Under the hood

Connect with us

Connect with us

"To design is to devise a course
of action aimed at changing existing situations into preferred ones."

-Herbert Simon

Strategic design is at the heart of the things we create that make meaningful impact on people’s lives. When it comes to healthcare and wellness, design often makes all the difference in whether a therapy is effective, quality of life is good, and people can live their lives to the fullest. This issue kicks off Under the Hood: a new semi-regular series where we uncover insights and stories from Design professionals and others who imagine and realize the solutions that help us sleep better, breathe better, and live healthier lives.

Under the hood

An interview with Josh Greenberg of Philips Design

Who is Josh Greenberg and what makes you tick?  

For the past 10+ years, I’ve been part of a dedicated team of researchers, product, UI and experience designers supporting Philips Sleep and Respiratory portfolio. While I’ve worked across the portfolio, I I‘ve been directly involved in almost every patient interface mask initiative since 2007.

 

I grew up in a science household – mom a marine biologist, dad a chemist—but I always knew I wanted to create. I started in engineering but soon moved on to design – specifically product design – as a way to make a difference in the world. Some early experiences in the children’s product category really laid the groundwork for what I believe makes effective design: a user centric approach.

What do you mean by a user centric approach to design?

It is a philosophy. Design driven by the needs of the user. I am talking about the opposite of design for design’s sake, of bells and whistles that serve no clear, strategic or functional purpose. Design focused around the experience of a user’s interaction with the products – as a guiding light for success. This means user testing is front and center in all of what we do: Primary user research. Focus groups. Concept testing. Market feedback. We strive to find unmet user needs and insights into our customer’s daily interactions.  It requires a balance though – and I feel lucky that my background in engineering helps understand technical constraints. I am comfortable in the multicolored world of art and science and see the black-and-white world of engineering; this gives me confidence to find the compromise or middle ground between ideas and reality.

What is an example of this design principal in practice — that you re most proud of?

DreamWear. This started as a blue sky blue vision project. Future of sleep. Future of patient interfaces. We have and had a great – team – really smart people working on this.
Philips DreamWear mask
"Our goal to reduce stigma for sleep apnea sufferers so they can go through life feeling like they are improving health instead of treating an illness. To make them feel normal, and not like sick people, to make them feel that they are taking control of their health, not treating an illness."

What was the Dreamwear design concept trying to solve?

When someone is diagnosed with sleep apnea, it can be pretty traumatic — life changing and scary. They have this mask that now becomes a part of their routine, their life.

 

“My wife either has to look at me in this thing every night, or I keep her up all night with snoring?

“I’m going to visit grand kids and they will be scared of me.”

“I’m dating, how on earth can I wear this?”

 

Our goal to reduce stigma for sleep apnea sufferers so they can go through life feeling like they are improving health instead of treating an illness. To make them feel normal, and not like sick people, to make them feel that they are taking control of their health, not treating an illness.

How did the design achieve this?

Air flow to the top of head — a design that takes the hose off the front of the face. This simplifies the front aesthetics of the mask, takes weight off the nose and mouth, so there is a huge comfort factor. And it allows what we call 360 degree sleep; if you have the hose under your arm if you turn 360 degrees eventually hose will wrap around your body. But with a 360 degree swivel on top, can roll around un-encumbered. The hose is far less likely to get captured by your arms or torso.

 

With DreamWear, we designed for a person, not necessarily a patient. Our goal was something minimal, austere, low profile, that exposed as much of the face as possible. We looked for simple forms that both work within engineering constraints and with contours of the human face, which pull complexity away from of eyes-nose-mouth and draw the eye back– to free the face, so to speak. 

What does design success look like?

I have a personal story for this one. About 6 months after DreamWear was launched, my dad was diagnosed with sleep apnea.  He was given a mask and in short order was complaining about how awful it was. The DME then provided him DreamWear. He called me up the very next night told me how amazing it was. My mom got on the phone to thank me too. It was a personal focus group that really hit home ―in a good way. This was very rewarding. This is the reason I am in Design. My focus is not on making pretty objects; I care about trying to make people’s lives better.

 

When I look back at the mask portfolio from the first ones I worked on to the latest, it is so clear and obvious improvements in what we are doing. Success is: change the way people interact with our products. We are trying to improve people’s lives – answer their clinical needs but also answer their emotional needs.

What does the future of patient interfaces and look like?

We are continuously improving our approach to design, where there is always a way to make life better is one our mantras. We explore materials, form and function from a Design perspective searching for that next disruptive innovation to empower customers to improve their daily lives

We are continuously improving our approach to design, where there is always a way to make life better is one our mantras. We explore materials, form and function from a Design perspective searching for that next disruptive innovation to empower customers to improve their daily lives