Being a teenaged girl is hard enough. Add diabetes to the mix and imagine the emotions at play. A winning designer in the DiabetesMine annual Design
Challenge wants to make diabetes management easier for these young people.
Entrants in the online diabetic community's challenge are
charged with finding creative ways to improve diabetics' lives. The winning app this year is called DiaPETic, and its creator, Emily Allen, knows a little about
young females. Though she's not diabetic, Allen is just 25 years old. She designed the winning app as a master's program project.
is an iPhone and iPod Touch application for young girls. Users create a pet avatar that interacts with them to encourage glucose testing and suggest
strategies for control. As they monitor glucose levels successfully, they earn points they can redeem for accessories for their avatars.
In an interview on the DiabetesMine
website, Allen says she's always had an interest in how the medical industry addresses stress and other psychological factors.
Allen focused on diabetes for her project "because it seems the emotions that go along with diabetes can be all over the place."
"That's because you don't just deal with it in the clinic or 'just take a pill,' Allen says. "You have to be constantly aware; everything you do with
your body matters. There are lots of challenges that other diseases don't necessarily deal with."
Allen says the most important thing for which diabetics need to be rewarded is establishing a testing routine, as 'good' results aren't always in their
Because online games such as Petville and Farmville are popular with teenaged girls, Allen went for the joy of moving to different levels and getting
different accessories. Allen continues to develop the app, such as a new mini-game feature called Paw-Hockey.
So far, Allen has a prototype of the basic app, and drawings for the mini-games. She still wants to expand the food portion of the app and an online
community with multi-player experiences and a support network.
The next step for Allen is to see this virtual reality become a reality.
If people could get excited 40 years ago about pet rocks, if little kids today are begging for stuffed animals with a web code, and if their grandpas
are begging for chickens for their virtual farms, this young inventor might be on to something.
Two other diabetic devices are also winners in the Diabetes Mine competition.
The Pancreum is an "artificial pancreas" that combines tubeless insulin pumping and continuous glucose monitoring with a
glucagon-delivering agent that works as an antidote to low blood sugar. The device includes a Bluetooth-enabled CoreMD and is in early stages of
The Blob is a portable insulin-delivery device that is small enough to carry in a pocket or wear on a neck-chain. The device includes
a coolant for inhabitants of warmer climates. It is seen as an efficient way to transport insulin around.