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At-Home HPV Test Kit




Team: Industrial Designer, Design Researcher, Gynecologist, Mechanical Engineer, Prototyper  

Role: Concept generation, user research, storytelling, building modeling, creating rendering

Project Details: A 12-week  professional project designing the patient experience for an at-home Pap smear and HPV test kit client

What was the challenge?

How might we support at-home HPV test experience before, during, and after their care? The patient journey can feel a bit like a conveyor belt. People feel insecure in their ability to do a health exam at home. Complicated, unfamiliar interactions can be discouraging. 

Originally, our client, an at-home HPV test company, was looking for a physical design-driven solution. However, we helped them to reframe the challenge through a patient-centric perspective to rethink the entire at-home HPV test experience. 

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Materials for user research

What was the outcome?

We interviewed 4 physicians and 5 patients. Synthesizing the interviews, we could have 5 initial insights. We learned people seek to understand what HPV is and the need for cervical cancer screening; they would appreciate the extra guidance and education. People value inclusiveness and being represented by the brands they adopt. They want inclusion for themselves and for others who are usually overlooked. People want to feel like they are taking charge of their health. To create trust, you need to empower your users with choices. People are looking for an offering that lets them feel confident in the screening and results. The more we reduce the steps needed to do the test, the more confident our patients will feel. Like many aspects of women’s health, there are overwhelming amounts of cultural and societal stigma around cervical cancer. People seek emotional support.

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What was your research process?

We approached this challenge through a patient-centric lens. We conducted research with a focus on speaking to four Physicians and patients. In order to get rich stories, we designed research tools such as a user journey map exercise to help our participants prioritize important moments during at-home test. We also hosted co-creation sessions with physicians and patients and built a visual mock-up to prototype an improved journey with real patients.

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Double click into physical product usage 

We created the research exercise with the renderings to get feedback from the participants in our first-round interview. For creating rendering we hacked stuff and had prototypes explorations. Our research suggested a product requirement to build the next level of design. People like to have simple interaction outside with one hand, functioning that serves accuracy inside. Design shouldn't make user scared, it should familiar enough but looks trustworthy. People want to sense reassurance that I’m doing the right thing with physical guidance. For example, tactile feedback for the slider button, so the user knows the user released the sponge. However, people didn't prefer the camera option because they don’t want to see their vagina. 

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How to use the device 

Position yourself and insert the device into your body ----- Deploy the sponge. Advance the slider up, towards your head ----- Rotate the slider with your thumb ----- Retract the sponge and remove the device

Prototype iteration

We carefully designed our product to make sure that users could handle the product with one hand, even when they could not see the product directly. Designing the tip was challenging because it is inserted into the body to collect cells from the cervix. Our team designed the mechanism of the retraction and detraction of the sponge to ensure both user convenience and safety. We created design through making. I actively participated in the iterative prototyping process and suggested forms. To support the collaboration of our team, I created and managed the space for sharing daily prototypes to improve the efficiency of our working process. 

Prototyping collaboration in virtual world


Prototype iteration

Final Design

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Smart dial design enables one handed use. Given the location of use; utilization of one hand is essential for general patient stability and ease of use. It is also mandatory for people who don’t have the full range of motion. Single handed-criteria became a must have criteria for the concept.  

The slider interface resonated most with patients and stood out as the clearest interaction; as it mimics  what the device is performing. Therefore, we highlighted the interaction area for our patients. Tactile feedback on slider is designed for the comfort of your thumb. The slope at the top of the device gives the patients tactile feedback indicating how far to slide the dial in.

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The handle is designed to create stability when placed on a counter. Materials adding to the interaction. The back of the handle is rubberized enabling a secure grip. A smooth material on the face enables frictionless sliding motion. The textured slider improves patient control while rotating the dial.

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Not to big, not too small. We created a handle size carefully from iterated mockups. Finger indent for better control. The finger indent supports control during insertion, without being prescriptive.


Tip, small enough not to intimidate. Size matters. Our device has to enable a frictionless insertion, but also instill confidence in its use. Use soft, flexible frictionless insertion material. We know the elements that are protecting the sponge will have first contact with the body. The design supports a soft interface, that won’t hurt.


The sponge is designed to expand. While the shaft is as thin as possible ,the sponge expands to optimize cell collection. It has smooth opening and we design is as a soft shapes even when deployed. The internal structure protects the sponge even during cell collection.

Test and validation


What was the impact?

Patient can take charge of their health. With at-home HPV tests, you can ditch the costly clinic visits, waiting rooms, and awkward conversations. At-home HPV tests are delivered in discreet packaging to protect your privacy. In addition, these tests are a great option because patient can take one at a time when most convenient for you. really worked! We got the surprising email from client after we sent out the working prototpye. Cleint tested with the real patient with the prototpye we sent, and the device could collect the cell that can tell whether patients have a hpv or not. 

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 © All rights are reserved by Heeju Kim 2016

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