Needs finding: following the learning and practising of the Human-Centered Design approach.

For any possible solution to work appropriately, the designers of the solution have to understand the basis of the problem. It is termed as “Empathy”.

Empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.[1]

This is therefore the first and foremost essential step when it comes to Human-Centred Design. This is where one gets the inspiration to pursue a solution for the challenge at hand. 

This week we had time to do this exercise partly through research tools such as interviews and observations. We visited both Muhimbili National Hospital and the Comprehensive Community-Based Rehabilitation in Tanzania. These visits were aimed at finding biomedical challenges in the locality as is the main aim of the studio: innovating biomedical technology to counter challenges in developing countries.

Muhimbili Visit:

At Muhimbili, we chiefly visited the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and general ward (Makuti A). It was intended that we find challenges in the Pediatric ward. 

The main challenge that we talked to the Doctor’s about involved the length board, bubble CPAP, Ultrasound training model, and chest compressor. 

Most details were given on account of the length board. The current length boards have a severe challenge when it comes to portability of the board when in need of doing social outreach or moving within wards. In some cases, there were complaints that the wooden base of the length boards would rot after having siphoned water, or liquids.


The CCBRT visit was more centred on the Prosthetics and Orthotics department. Prosthetics is the evaluation, fabrication, and custom fitting of artificial limbs, known as “prostheses.” Prostheses enhance the function and lifestyle of persons with limb loss.[2] Orthotics is the evaluation, fabrication, and custom fitting of orthopedic braces, known as “orthoses.” Orthotics combines knowledge of anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, biomechanics, and engineering.[3]

The development of prostheses and orthoses at CCBRT is based in two manufacturing methods: Negative casting and 3D printing. The department strived well so far in its own technologies following the cost adoption that they have to adopt for financial feasibility. The only situation in the current setup was the redundancy in 3D printers. There’s a set of two different 3D printers with one set being not feasibly used in the current locality.

The needs finding that was done on this visit were the key founding concepts unto which all prototypes are to be built. This is the essence of the research required.


  1. Empathy
  2. What is Prosthetics?
  3. What is Orthotics?
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