Mimo: A non-pharmacological solution for comforting preterm neonates

Preterm neonates often suffer from pain, distress and discomfort during the first weeks of their lives. While residing in special Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICUs) that are designed for optimal care, they are subject to numerous interventions ranging from a simple diaper change to surgery. Although pharmacological pain treatment often is available, it cannot always be applied to relieve a neonate from pain or discomfort. Therefore, new non-pharmacological solutions are required to reduce the discomfort experienced by these babies during the first weeks of their lives. In this 3-month design case we came up with a novel solution called Mimo, that provides comfort through mediation of a parent’s physiological features to the distressed neonate. With a user-centered, iterative design approach we designed and implemented a first prototype of Mimo, involving users in every stage of the design process. The results of the final pilot study with neonates in a NICU showed that the concept is promising enough to pursue a full-scale clinical trial.

This project in keywords:

iterative user-centered design, brainstorming, user studies, affinity diagram, requirements gathering and analysis, storyboarding, video prototyping, paper prototyping, high-fidelity prototyping, Arduino programming, user evaluation, usability testing, field studies, observation

What I did:

This was a 3-month group project during which I had different roles. I was involved in the initial brainstorming to come up with novel solutions, conducted interviews with nurses working in NICUs, analysed the requirements and created storyboards. In the prototyping phase, I created the high-fidelity functional prototype: from programming the Arduino microprocessors to soldering sensors and electronics on circuit boards. In the final phase, I took part in the evaluation of Mimo in NICUs with neonates. I also, co-wrote 2 papers on Mimo.

One was presented at the International Conference on Global Health Challenges in October 2012. You can download the paper here.

The other one was published in IEEE Journal of Biomedical and Health Informatics; you can find the article here: Mimo Pillow – an Intelligent Cushion Designed with Maternal Heart Beat Vibrations for Comforting Newborn Infants.

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Stan Ackerman’s Institute – User System Interaction, Eindhoven, The Netherlands in collaboration with Maxima Medical Centre, Veldhoven.


In this project I worked with Mariana Serras Perreira, Daniel Tetteroo, Frank Versteegh, Wei Chen and Sidarto Bambang Oetomo, M.D.