The world of health tech has exploded in recent years, as people have embraced everything from meditation apps like Headspace, through to period trackers such as Flo, and virtual GP services like Babylon.
While developments like these mean that, to some extent, we’re already starting to manage some of our healthcare independently, a new speculative project called Smart Aid Kit is exploring what role design and tech can play in making healthcare more accessible for communities around the world.
The project is a collaboration between Map Project Office, the design studio behind experimental projects such as Little Signals (which was a winner in the Creative Review Annual Awards) and landmark designs such as the train interiors for TfL’s Elizabeth Line, and hybrid design studio and think tank Modem.
Smart Aid Kit is envisaged as a series of tools that allow people to perform basic triage on themselves or others, and act as a virtual practitioner. The tools include its own versions of a stethoscope, spirometer, ophthalmoscope, and skin analyser, which can do everything from detect auto-immune diseases to assess cardiovascular health.
“Together we wanted to showcase a series of simple objects that could perform well and are instinctive to use,” says Map creative director, Emilie Robinson. “As with our other work, we wanted to ensure that although Smart Aid Kit is experimental, crafting the tools physically was important to understand how the designs would look and feel when used.”
Inspired by the idea of ‘primary’ care, the tools’ approachable and functional design features primary shapes and a colour palette that is already commonplace within the world of healthcare. They are brought together in a robust and durable case, which is powered by solar power and requires low energy consumption.
The UI is also lo-fi, with an analogue aesthetic that conveys information in a conversational and digestible manner. The interface is powered by a medical Large Language Model (LLM), an advanced AI model that essentially acts as a virtual GP.
“New and emerging AI-powered technologies carry the promise of a radical overhaul in both healthcare reach and quality,” says Modem co-founder, Bas van de Poel. “With specialised chips enabling medical LLMs to run on the edge, basic triage becomes more accessible than ever. This is a significant step toward democratising healthcare, bridging the gap between technology and immediate, personalised care for all.”