Core77 Design Awards
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inne by Feral is a biotech startup based in Berlin, with a mission to help women track their fertility in a more accurate, convenient way.
The inne minilab is the world's first at-home fertility monitoring system, using your saliva. It is an innovative product that combines biochemistry, technology, and design, equipping women to measure the fertility hormone progesterone, at home. By measuring hormone levels directly in saliva, it enables convenient, non-invasive, and accurate data to predict and confirm ovulation to determine fertility status daily, throughout the cycle.
Certified as an In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Device (IVD), the minilab consists of a compact optical Reader, a daily saliva test (lateral flow-based immunoassay), and an iOS App powered by an intelligent algorithm. All elements are designed to make the daily routine as convenient as possible, clear in interactions, and purposefully inconspicuous in appearance.
VISION & MISSION When we think about the female reproductive system we see beauty and we see logic. We are pushing the boundaries of science, technology, and design to help women see the same. We see it as our mission to help women tune into their bodies and make informed decisions about their fertility and overall female health.
INNOVATION The inne minilab is the world's first at-home fertility monitoring system, using your saliva. It is an innovative product that combines biochemistry, technology, and design, equipping women to measure the fertility hormone progesterone, at home. By measuring hormone levels directly in saliva, it enables convenient, non-invasive, and accurate data to predict and confirm ovulation to determine fertility status daily, throughout the cycle.
SIMPLE & CONVENIENT Certified as an In Vitro Diagnostic Medical Device (IVD), the minilab consists of a compact, portable optical reader, a daily saliva test (lateral flow-based immunoassay), and an iOS app powered by an intelligent algorithm. All elements are designed to make the daily routine as convenient as possible, clear in interactions, and purposefully inconspicuous in appearance.
Within a flexible 4-hour testing window, the inne strip is used to collect saliva for 30 seconds. The collector is then folded in, activating the saliva flow (within our patent-pending immunoassay) with a click, and inserted into the inne reader. This automatically starts the measurement, indicated by a "breathing light." Within minutes, results are seamlessly synced with the app via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
The inne reader has a single, discreetly placed button that is used only for infrequent interactions such as pairing during setup. All reader events are communicated via a UI light within the slot, allowing light to gently seep out of the opening (for setup/updates) or directly onto the strip to signal the start & end of a measurement when a Strip is inserted.
DESIGN PHILOSOPHY At inne, we strive to move the needle forward in FemTech through innovating in the field of fertility tracking, and soon, contraception - two industries where women have had to settle for outdated technology for far too long. Despite fertility being a booming industry, it can be quite predatory, with countless companies presenting the same repackaged solution (urinary ovulation devices). Meanwhile, non-hormonal contraception still single-handedly consists of the basal body temperature method, as it has for a century.
The inne team dedicated 3+ years to develop a modern-day alternative that we felt women long deserved. We intentionally worked with a design and brand philosophy that consciously sidesteps the pinkification, baby phone-design type cliches too often associated with this category of products. Instead, we have opted to use a combination of well-considered forms in the minilab consisting of a mix of soft surfacing and textures that are approachable, contrasted with sharp elements to convey a sense of quality and reliability. The hard-edged elements, such as the cutout for the strip slot and bottom friction pad, serve to draw attention to the reader's interaction points and orientation.
APPROACH Ok, so we measure hormones? Those little things that everyone has heard of but few actually understand what they are or do? And not only are we interested in measuring hormones in saliva, but we want women to do it themselves intuitively and effortlessly on a daily basis, by developing & adopting a routine for self-discovery - the inne moment.
In order to successfully serve our target group with the minilab, we constantly ask ourselves - how can biochemistry be made intuitive, effortless, and easily adopted into a daily routine?
Intuitive - the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning. Effortless - requiring little to no physical or mental exertion. Routine - a sequence of actions regularly followed.
Intuition and effort both define how easily a routine can be developed and maintained. Therefore we have been very passionate about creating an experience that is easy to understand in onboarding and a daily routine that requires very little from the user to maintain. Self-discovery is a journey and not a sprint, so we needed to make all daily interactions with our hardware simple and delightful to live with every day for the long haul. Similarly, the inne App has been designed to deliver an uncluttered view of cycle data with clear features to guide the user to insights and events throughout the cycle.
When developing the inne minilab with these key principles, our team had to break down every function, requirement, and interaction so that components could be arranged along the way to create a seamless experience. It is, after all, an entirely new product category without comparison, including several innovations, so every touchpoint and decision deserved a closer look!
GUIDING QUESTIONS How can we create a piece of laboratory equipment that fits into women's daily lives, everywhere? What should it look like or feel like to use? How do we ensure the correct amount of saliva reaches the strip without creating a mess? What will our user's partners think of it? How can we make our users feel proud of using inne? What is the best way to educate the women using inne with actionable insights? What is the overarching form language of a quasi-medical device without projecting the clinical experience of products aimed at treating or diagnosing conditions? After all, fertility is not a condition, it's a part of being human, and we required that the experience reflect this radical truth.
On the other hand, there are symptoms and events related to fertility that ARE medical in nature. So at the same time, it's also a very serious product as it can touch upon so many sensitive aspects of women's health. These are a tiny portion of the type of considerations which guided the design process and form language of the minilab 1.0. undefined
FERTILITY HORMONES 101 Apart from being a source of physiological and psychological change throughout our lives, the beauty of looking directly at hormones is that they are not influenced by a hangover or by getting out of bed which can be the case with the basal body temperature method (BBT). This is why we went to great lengths to design our system around a highly sensitive immunoassay to uncover the hormones directly.
The rhythm of a woman's menstrual cycle is controlled by several hormones. At the end of the follicular phase, estradiol briefly peaks, triggering the brain to release luteinizing hormone (LH). This LH spike activates a series of events that result in the release of the egg from the matured follicle in the ovary. This is known as ovulation. Following ovulation, the follicle develops into the corpus luteum, which is responsible for producing the hormone progesterone. Progesterone concentration increases during this time, peaking in the mid-luteal phase. During the late luteal phase, the progesterone concentration begins to decrease.
By monitoring progesterone levels across your cycle, the inne minilab is able to predict and confirm the user's ovulation day. Apart from tracking ovulation via progesterone trends the inne app also allows users to track cervical fluids, symptoms, and events to further help identify patterns of change in fertility and wellbeing.