SMARTdrill GUI Design

Client: Smart Medical Devices Inc.
Role: UI/UX Design


Smart Medical Devices Inc. has created the first ever hand held robotic orthopedic drill. The SMARTdrill gives surgeons real time drilling feedback through an interactive graphical user interface screen. This technology will revolutionize the way orthopedic surgeons operate. It will reduce radiation exposure from repeated x-rays, reduce surgery time and improve patient outcomes by providing real time drilling data.

The original GUI was designed by the engineers for the purpose of product testing so it displayed all the necessary information, but was not visually engaging and was more suited to an engineer persona than a surgeon. Also, as more features were being added, the depth of the UI started to show real weakness.

Original GUI design

We started the design process by observing users in three settings: Attending physicians in a research lab who were completely new to the technology, senior level surgeons in a lab setting who had some exposure to our technology and may have used it once before in a demonstration setting, and senior level surgeons who were on the company’s clinical advisory board who had seen and interacted with the technology from its infancy.

Attending physicians using SMARTdrill in lab testing

All the users were able to successfully use the tool to drill holes, but all experienced some level of struggle with the GUI. We observed and received feedback that suggested the main things we needed to focus on would be hierarchy of data points, button labels, workflow and visibility.

SMARTdrill technology is paradigm breaking in that we are asking surgeons to dispense with what they have been trained to do since medical school— look at the work— and lock their eyes onto a digital screen. Because of this, we needed to make sure that we understood exactly what information was the most important to establish a safe level of comfort with this new practice.

I revised the design of the GUI to visually prioritize the most important data points while still showing all the data. I also designed a toggle feature that allows surgeons to drill multiple holes and clearly see each one’s graph while allowing them to show and hide each hole as desired. This feature also allows surgeons to calculate the cumulative data between selected holes.

New design being used in demonstrations at an orthopedics convention

Surgeons who tested the drill after the redesign gave us feedback that it was clear what information was important and there was far less confusion when looking at the graphs of multiple holes. The toggle functionality was extremely helpful when surgeons drilled multiple holes and wanted to discuss each one. Surgeons also had an easier time interacting with the interface buttons between drilling holes.

in by