Gabriel Mueller — Industrial Designer

How might we detect neurological changes at an early stage?

Identified Opportunity

Pathological changes in brain tissue may be identified at an earlier stage if there was a corresponding diagnosis tool to be used by general practicioners.


Hemolite is a tool which enables physicians to undertake a quick scan of cerebral blood flows. The instrument applies Near Infrared Spectroscopy to perform this task.


Published in designreport 04|2016

A handheld tool which enables general practicioners to scan cerebral blood flows

Bridging the gap between family doctors and specialised medical centres

An acquaintance of mine used to have an increasing hearing loss for several years, but none of the many doctors he saw found the reason for the illness. Eventually, one of the doctors found out there was a tumour growing right behind his left ear, which put pressure on the auditory nerves. A magnetic resonance tomography revealed the location of the tumour and it could be removed.

Pathological changes in brain tissue may cause non-specific symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, vision changes or depression. This led to following question: What kind of technological solution could help general practicioners, the first doctors to examine patients, in diagnosing changes in brain tissue?


    Finding a new opportunity for the application of Near Infrared Spectroscopy

    Gaining insights from practicioners, radioligists and physicists, i have learnt that Near Infrared Spectroscopy is a renown method in order to scan cerebral blood activities.

    The near infrared light is used to measure the oxygenation of hemoglobin below the skull. In a healthy brain, the light absorption is evenly, whereas pathological changes may affect the concentration of blood in different locations.

    Gaining knowledge by visiting experts in the field of medical imaging

    Standard NIRS method


    A smart, simple tool

    Combining the technology of the NIRS method and the need for a mobile solution which could easily be implemented into the workflow of general practicioners, I realised that a small hand held tool would best meet the set requirements.

    Sketch explorations


    Human factors and product-user communication play a vital role during the design process

    In the ideation phase, I used sketches to explore a variety of possible product architectures and I built quick prptptypes of the most promising ideas.

    I used the mockups to evaluate the size, ergonomics, controls and the interaction with a user interface. Quick 2D illustrations helped me to define the aesthetics of the product.

    Testing mockups

    Devoloping usage scenarios


    Hemolite - a "spectroscope" to scan a patient's brain

    The final design features four spreading legs which unite into a pen-shaped body. A small display sits at the very top of the device. The four legs comprise two times two near infrared senders and receivers.

    The distance between each sender and receiver is sixty millimeters, which allows a scan depth of approximately thirty millimeters. One scan takes about two seconds and the results are shown directly on the display.


    The user interface visualises the captured data

    The small display shows a basic visual interpretation of the cerebral blood flow at the measured spot. If the rotating circular shape is white, the blood flow is in a healthy state.

    Red means too much blood flow (for example intracanial bleeding), grey means too little. All the captured data is collected and can be analysed with a software.

    Presenting and discussing the project

    A 1:1 design model has been built as a base for presentation, discussion and validation.