Juno is a breakthrough platform for high-throughput DNA processing – testing small amounts of DNA samples for scientific genetic studies. It uses an integrated microfluidic circuit (IFC) that automates all the preparation steps for up to 96 samples. The Juno system enables production genomics scientists, both academic researchers and industry, to genotype low-concentration DNA samples from tissue, buccal swabs, formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples, and polyploid organisms. In addition, Juno handles the control and cycling of all existing Fluidigm genotyping IFCs, and features a "walk-away" workflow that takes just 15 minutes to prep while producing data in less than three hours. After loading the test sample into the machine, the elevated touch screen walks users through an intuitive process for a seamless testing experience. In this way, the laboratory technician's job becomes less about managing samples and navigating complex equipment, and more about analyzing test results.
During the development of Juno, the entire Fluidigm brand underwent a design overhaul. The brand identity work happened simultaneously to the product design, which was a major challenge but also an opportunity – as the brand became developed, we were able to add details to the machine to reflect their new identity; concurrently, as we fleshed out the details of this iconic machine, the industrial design decisions influenced the larger brand story. The general positioning for the brand through our strategic research was to simplify the complex quest to understand and apply biology; this in itself was a great thematic challenge in designing a highly intricate genomic DNA processor – transforming something extremely complex into a device that could create excitement and inspiration within the lab, becoming as functional for the technician as it is advanced in its capabilities. Additionally, manufacturability and price point were large factors, as the consumers of this product have preset expectations of what this type of device should look like and cost.
In researching the life sciences industry, we found that design was rarely even considered to be a component in their offerings and process. Companies and products are driven by engineering quality and scientific components; while these instruments have functional capabilities, companies are often failing to consider the experience the user has when engaging with them. For Fluidigm, the challenge was complex: we wanted to reflect their pioneering spirit with a truly forward-thinking design, while fundamentally improving their customers' experience of their brand through their product and digital touch points, and of course, we needed to support in driving the sales of their products. Ultimately, the goal was to create a product offering that reflects the new brand identity of Fluidigm and build their brand equity, but also creates an exceptional and new user experience to their consumers.
The job of the laboratory technician covers much extraneous work such as managing samples, watching over tests, and ultimately analyzing the test results. What Juno offers is one machine that can genotype low-concentration DNA samples, internally manage those samples, and run test results in less than three hours – something that could dramatically alter the way genomic testing takes place. By designing a product offering that is both seamlessly functional and aesthetically inspiring, we can bring new perspective and inspiration into the laboratory setting. More importantly, we can shift the technician's focus from managing samples to analyzing results, and hopefully catalyze genetic breakthroughs.
The ultimate goals for the Juno design were to build brand equity around the new Fluidigm identity, as well as create a premium and seamless user experience for their customers. In terms of branding, the final Juno design is not only beautiful, but also builds a distinct and elevated personality for Fluidigm. The product is inspired by the "Superman" chip that runs it – a highly complex, yet hypnotically intricate set of pathways and ridges that form the basis for its functionality. We utilized these ridge designs in the exterior of the machine, creating machined patterning that run from the front of the machine through the back. The colors, a royal purple and carbon grey, reflect the new brand identity – elegant yet scientific, and distinct from the sea of blues that clouds the life sciences industry currently. We used a rough machining process, which not only adds beautiful detailing to its aesthetic, but also dramatically cut manufacturing costs. The entire machine is divided in half and easily opens for repairs. The back of the machine has open space for cord management, while the front touch screen is elevated for ease of use, almost inviting the user to operate it. Upon powering on, the machine presents a beautiful living cell-like animation, before taking the user step-by-step through a seamless testing process. Not only does Juno position Fluidigm as a human-centered, elevated brand distinct in its industry, but the product creates an entirely unique and highly functional experience for its users.