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Doplor, friendly reminder for a quiet ICU

This technical product uses dynamics visuals to convey sound quality in real-time.

The aim is to increase nurses’ awareness of excessive noise in a friendly manner.

# embodiment design   # data visualization   # healthcare

Group project

Feb-Aug 2019

Contributed to research, data visualization, user test, and exhibition design

Collaborated with Erasmus Medical Centre

Exhibited at Dutch Design Week 2019

Special thanks to my teammates: Jip Schelling, Melek Akan Rob Moleman, Yiling Liu, and the coaching team: Elif Ozcan Vieira, Stefan Persaud



Intensive Care (IC) is a healing place for critical patients, as well as a working place for nurses. The noise in the IC negatively influences patients' recovery and nurses' working performance. To help nurses manage the noise, designer Roel Redert proposed a concept design, Doplor, a device that visualizes the real-time noise level in the IC.

In this project, the team worked on the embodiment design of Doplor.

The project goal is to deliver a testable prototype for the IC environment.



Conduct Field Research, find out user needs in the IC context

The design team visited the IC department and observed how the nurse team cope with their work. Nurses usually sit at the ward window, monitor the data via computer screen and sometimes check the patient status through the window. Nurses need to focus on their high-intense work, they would like to have as little distraction as possible. 


Translate user needs into requirements, Doplor should : 

Call attention in a reasonable range

As a secondary task, Doplor should remind them about the noise level in a way easy to minimize its impact on nurses' working routine, that is, inform about the noise instead of bothering.

Make nurses feel in control

This device should support the nurses in controlling the noise. It should be appropriate for reminding noise in an easy-to-recognize and friendly way.

Need few efforts to use

This device should perform high usability, be easy of learning and operating. 

Function Analysis on Doplor

Doplor is a technical-physical product system that comprises an overall function of reacting to the sound in the IC environment. The embodiment design focus on two transitions: From noise to data, from data to visuals, which can be tested according to technical requirements. The expected functions are related to user behaviours, which will be evaluated via user test. 

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From noise to data

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The nurses communicate frequently during daily work. The more intensive the work is, the higher the volume is.


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Caused by monitoring devices and emergency alerts. Some of the alarms are pre-settled, some are adjusted by nurses.


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Noise caused by unexpected reasons, such as falling objects, collisions, etc.

Incidental sound

Develop sensing & distinguishing system

The noise comes from 3 categories:

Different in frequency, the noise can be distinguished

by the FFT(Fast Fourier Transform) algorithm.


Cite from: NTi AUDIO. (n.d.).

With the open-source electronics platform, Arduino, a sensing system

was built to distinguish the noise categories and DB level. 

From data to visual

Data visualization design

To call attention in a reasonable range, when nurses look at Doplor,

they should be able to perceive the noise information of different levels:

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Quick glance

from a distance

Quick glance

in a short distance


in a short distance

Know the overall noise level

Know the noise condition in different categories

Know the noise change in the current time slot

Concepts of visuals and display form were created.

By testing with nurses, the concepts were iterated.

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The final design is:  Display dynamic visuals on a digital screen. Use office building with human activities to indicate the noise. In addition, sliders were added to give nurses more control over the device.


Usability test in the IC

After the functional test in TU Delft, the final prototype was installed in the IC Department for a two-week usability test. At the end of the test, the nurses were invited to fill in the questionnaire regarding visual recognition, user control, aesthetic, and privacy. The product system operated well during the test. According to nurse feedback, the dynamic visual is understandable and the slider function is not a must.


The screen displays dynamic visuals,

representing the real-time noise status

The nurse adjusted the sensitivity with the sliders.


Sensors mounted on the ceiling, sensing the surrounding noise


Usability questionnaires

Exhibition at Dutch Design Week

Doplor was selected to exhibit at Dutch Design Week 2019. The design team adapted it to fit the exhibition environment. In this version,  we removed the thresholds and changed the visuals to waves and floating boat (which is the original visual design by Roel), to test if people intuitively related the wave to sound level. The sensors were adjusted to be less sensitive about the background noise and speeching, and react more quickly when the alarm sound rings.

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At the Design Week, we received a lot of inspiring feedbacks.

Our brilliant visitors suggested using Doplor in:

noisy office, factory, children hospital, and deaf people's home ...


We are pleased to see it triggering more and more discussions! 

Feel like adding your comments? Don't hesitate to contact us!

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