In 2021, an estimated 107,622 people died in the United States from opioid overdoses, a 15% increase from 2020 (Center for Disease Control). An opioid overdose can be reversed with products such as Narcan, which contain Naloxone Hydrochloride, helping to counteract the massive death toll caused by the epidemic. Unfortunately, few people have the life saving drug accessible when it's needed most for a variety of reasons including portability, fear of being stereotyped, intimidating instructions, and cost
Nove is an opioid overdose prevention device designed for everyday carry, addressing the shortcomings of today's overdose prevention devices. Nove enables anybody to administer and carry the life saving medicine whether you're a family member worried about the health of a loved one, first responder, partygoer, or someone concerned about an overdose occuring around them. The design is discrete, allowing its owner to avoid assumptions of drug usage, small enough to put in a pocket or attach to a keychain for easy accessibility, and designed with intuitive affordances for effortless use. Additionally, the product is designed for injection molding manufacturing processes with affordability in mind.
When someone becomes a victim of an opioid overdose, a matter of minutes could determine life or death. With Nove's ease of use, portability, and affordability, anyone can save a life.
An eleven week project that began spring of 2022, as an undergraduate student at Western Washington University. Nove was catalyzed by research into opioid abuse among commercial fishing industries in Washington state. As the severity of the opioid epidemic became evident around the rest of the United States, the project adapted to suit consumers of every walk of life.
Research Interview InsightsNames and Images have been changed to protect the interviewee's identity
The Opioid Epidemic
The opioid epidemic continues to threaten the health and safety of lives around the world, yet it's estimated that 275 million people used drugs in the year 2019, with 62 million people using opioids and no signs of diminishing use (World Health Organization). In 2021, there were 107,622 deaths in the United States caused from opioid overdoses, a 15% increase from 2020 (Center for Disease Control). This increase is a result of the growing demand for both synthetic opioids to relieve chronic pain and the distribution of illicit drugs such as meth and cocaine.
An opioid overdose can be reversed with products such as Narcan, which contain Naloxone Hydrochloride, a drug that counteracts the effects of an overdose, possessing the ability to save lives. As I conducted research, interviewing members of opioid abuse support communities and volunteers of needle exchange programs in the area it became evident that very few people actually had Narcan accessible. While many of the people I spoke to were affected by the epidemic, regardless of if they were recovering from addiction themselves or had lost a loved one, none of them said they carried the lifesaving drug regardless of their knowledge of its effectiveness.
Naloxone Hydrochloride is administered in two primary ways, either by needle, or nasal spray, requiring only 4mg of the substance to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Understandably people expressed their concerns with injecting a needle into somebody and transferring the solution of Naloxone HCL from vial to syringe. This process was cumbersome, uncomfortable and intrusive. On top of that, it is difficult to find someone willing to carry a needle tipped syringe with them everyday. In contrast, Narcan nasal spray is a much less intrusive option for administering Naloxone HCL, but despite its smaller size and less intimidating interaction, few people are willing to carry it. As I talked with both opioid relief communities and my own community of college students who had all heard about friends and students tragically passing away from mishandled substances at concerts, parties, and other social events, it became apparent why.
For many people,Their hesitancy to carry Narcan stemmed from self image and a fear of being stereotyped. As a volunteer at the whatcom needle exchange program said, "I don't want to carry Narcan on me because I don't want people to assume I am using". Secondly, people expressed that they don't want to carry it around simply because it's cumbersome. In order to prevent faulty sprays, Narcan must be kept in a clear clamshell making it too large to fit in a pocket, unable to clip onto a keychain, and can really only be held in hand or put in a larger bag. Another finding was that although Naloxone Hydrochloride can be purchased for relatively cheap and is even distributed for free at most opioid relief centers, Narcan nasal spray costs around $100 per dose, making the product an impractical option for many.
Nove is an opioid overdose prevention device designed for everyday carry, addressing the shortcomings of today's overdose prevention devices. Nove enables anybody to administer and carry the life saving medicine whether you're a family member worried about the health of a loved one, first responder, partygoer, or anybody concerned about an overdose happening around them.
The design is discrete in visual language, allowing its owner to avoid assumptions of drug usage and demeaning stereotypes. With a minimal and sculptural white form, Nove hides in plain sight as a keychain decoration. However, It becomes easily distinguishable when closely examined by the Nove marking, QR code, and the faint label "Naloxone HCL, 4mg".
Additionally the compact size of Nove allows the user to carry the life saving medication wherever they go. With a built in key loop and slim profile the device fits seamlessly in a pocket, small bag, or keychain. To prevent an accidental spray from everyday wear, the internal mechanism provides a two-step administration process and seals Naloxone HCL inside the canister until its intended use.
In the event of an emergency Nove becomes easy to use and understand with its intuitive features. The exterior of the product only has one visible button, making it obvious for users to identify and press. Once the button has been clicked tabs on the interior of the structure disconnect the cap covering the nasal tip, and allow a large button on the top of the device to extend upward. The large button with the Nove logo acts as the trigger, indicated by the bright orange appearance revealed as it extends. Simultaneously, the cap can be pulled off using either the key loop or affordances created by the cut form, exposing the nasal tip. From there the device is active and can be inserted into either nostril, and with one firm push of the button, 4 mg of Naloxone Hydrochloride is pushed through the atomizer and sprayed into the victims respiratory system.
To ensure the owner's understanding of these procedures, in addition to Nove's intuitive affordances created by color and form, it is packaged with a debit card sized instruction manual for carrying in your wallet. Additionally the QR code on the side of Nove can be scanned for mobile instructions on your smartphone, bringing the user to the Nove website where they can learn more about the opioid epidemic, common practices for safe drug use, detailed product information, and community resources for support and emergency response.
Finally, with consideration of manufacturing costs and durability, Nove is made from a few small injection molded ABS parts including, the cap, plunger/button mechanism, and exterior housing/body. In addition, a small EPDM o-ring keeps 4mg of Naloxone Hydrochloride sealed inside the body. Lastly, a heavyweight orange paracord molded into the base of the cap allows Nove to withstand long periods of wear while on a keychain.
After conducting research which is outlined in the above opportunity section, I began the ideation process with a series of sketches. Throughout the process I was thinking about how a user interacts with the product. Specifically, what forms communicate how to use the product without screaming "I'M A MEDICINE". A large section of the design process was spent creating a product that people would feel confident wearing on their keychain, which is oftentimes visible to the public. More importantly, is the ability for the user to intuitively use the product in frantic and stressful situations.
To ensure Nove was successful in its ease of use I developed several prototypes and asked my peers to use the device. I observed how people naturally held it, what was uncomfortable about holding it, and how people perceived it should be administered. Through this observational research, I tweaked the form and its affordances to accommodate intuitive thinking in time sensitive emergency situations. The result is a device and a corresponding mechanism that allows only one button or course of action to be revealed at a time. When pressing the square button on the side it causes the orange button to reveal itself. The orange features on the product act as instructions when administering the device. The first step after clicking the square button is to pull off the cap, which is identified by the orange paracord. Sequentially, the large extended orange button is pressed, which administers and sprays medicine.
When someone becomes a victim of an overdose caused by opioids, a matter of minutes could mean life and death. With Nove's ease of use, portability, and affordability, anyone can save a life. Whether you're a family member of someone who struggles with drug abuse, student, emergency responder, teacher, or friend, Nove allows anybody and everybody to take action against the opioid epidemic and the countless lives it has and continues to take.