Melbourne Design Awards - City Design Awards

SignosTM Personal Ultrasound System

Melbourne Design Awards 2010 - Winner

Project Overview

Signos is the world’s first portable ultrasound device providing faster and more accurate diagnosis at the point of care. More of a buddy than a product, this ground breaking ultra compact portable ultrasound streamlines health services and extends the range of care offered by physicians putting patients at ease via accurate on the spot diagnosis. From a paramedic in Sydney, a physician in Texas, a physio at the game in Brazil, a field hospital in Africa this device is always there when you need it.

Project Team


Signostics Pty Ltd
Stewart Bartlett


Design + Industry
Design+Industry Design Team

Designed and developed by the Design+Industry Melbourne Design Team

Project Brief

The benefits of using ultrasound have been well known to clinicians for years, however it was the access to these large ultrasound machines and the lengthy wait of the results that was letting practitioners and patients down, having to be referred to a ultrasound clinic was wasting valuable time in diagnosis. Practitioners needed a system that would provide accurate diagnosis quickly, easily, and cheaply at the point of care.

Signostics came to Design + Industry with a brief to design a totally new product device that would revolutionise diagnostic equipment. Signostics had spent several years in the development of the diagnostic technology. With their cutting edge miniaturised technology they needed a physical product that could deliver their pioneering technology to patients in a truly innovative way. The product delivery needed to be as highly innovative as the technology it was going to deliver to the patients.

Project Innovation / Need

So much more than a high tech stethoscope this technology's unique portability and affordability means physicians can see and diagnose more accurately and faster than ever before. Effectively taking snapshots below the skin, these images and added notes via voice or stylus/keyboard create a trackable patient event history. Additionally the health system benefits from reduced referrals and patient anxiety is reduced via on the spot diagnosis.

This wearable device is always there when you need it. Thanks to the careful ergonomic design of the controls and its wearable format it frees your hands when you need to let go and is instantly accessible creating seamless workflow empowering the practitioner in their daily work. One handed operation via scroll wheel for basic functions or use the stylus for adding appointments, adjusting settings, manipulating/diagnosing images.

Featuring :
• Colour Touch screen/stylus input for post scan data manipulation, image enhancement and text input for recording patient notes
• Immediate results allowing the physician to provide better point of care service. Patients benefit from faster results and therefore quicker treatment and recovery
• Features a microphone for recording supplementary notes and an inbuilt speaker for playback
• Encrypted patient records can also be stored in the unit
• Removable SD Memory card and USB connection allows data transfer to other devices

Design Challenge

Signos is a pioneering ultrasound device and has set the standard for the industry. The major design challenge during the development process was to deliver a brand new product and application to the marketplace.

We knew the significant benefits the ultrasound technology could deliver but what we needed to discover was the best way to deliver that technology to the people would use it. What shape should it be? How will the product be used? Who will use it and how could it improve people’s lives? To answer these questions we undertook detailed user discovery and research, we uncovered that practitioners are always on the move seeing multiple patients per day in various environments. The design would need to be adaptable to meet all the dynamic user needs.

The answer was to make the product wearable so it’s always there when they need it giving diagnosis at the point of care. The wearable design solution not only enhances usability it also extends independence of practitioners outside of the hospital or practice environment giving them more freedom to treat patients in remote and rural medicine situations. Signos is now giving rural practitioners as well as practitioners in remote developing countries a cost-effective opportunity to significantly improve their physical examinations of patients.


98% of parts used are RoHS compliant.

No hazardous materials are used in its construction.

Easily disassembled for service, spare parts and software upgrades to extend life.

Traditionally a patient is referred to a clinic, this translates to transport, consulting rooms using electricity, additional computers and power for large ultrasound equipment. The portability and simplicity of Signos means one step in the process can be removed by allowing the practitioner to undertake the diagnosis at the first point of care.

Compact and low power requirement compared to clinic based systems (pregnancy monitoring) which have a variety of individual transducer wands, Signos has interchangeable transducer heads.