Creating a Tangible Product Vision for Takeda

DEARY, our package-based home self-medication ecosystem for cancer patients.

Creating a Tangible Product Vision for Takeda

  • Carolina Villalobos, Team Lead Industrial Design, designaffairs
    Carolina Villalobos Team Lead Industrial Design, designaffairs

designaffairs and the AIPIA Smart Packaging Challenge: Showing Takeda the critical role Smart Packaging can play in tackling pain points across the healthcare ecosystem.

The challenge:

So I need to tell you a story. A really good story…
We just went toe-to-toe with some of the biggest design agencies in the world. And we beat them. We won! Let me tell you more…

Takeda Pharmaceutical, one of the world’s leading drug manufacturers, teamed up with the Active & Intelligent Packaging Industry Association (AIPIA) to organize a Smart Packaging (SP) design challenge. Given that our mission here at designaffairs encompasses smart design as a core principle, we decided to go all-in for this challenge. We assembled our best team, brought our best thinking and creativity, and our decades of experience in innovative design to the task.

A reminder: the global SP market is set to grow by 5.4% over the next decade, reaching $52 billion by 2025.

Back to the challenge. From dozens of applications, the judges pre-selected 13 proposals ─ including ours. We knew it was going to be difficult to win, as we were competing with well-established global companies with go-to-market SP solutions for the pharmaceutical Industry. Nonetheless, our mission was clear: we wanted to show Takeda the critical role Smart Packaging can play in tackling pain points across the healthcare ecosystem, including:

  • The physical, emotional and social needs of patients
  • The operational, R&D and sustainability needs of drugs manufacturers
  • The spatial and personnel needs of the hospital or healthcare partner

From product research and user insights to logistics transformation and material innovation, our creative process was entirely remote.

Creative Process 1: User journey, pain points and opportunity areas - using the collaborative online whiteboard platform
Creative Process 1: User journey, pain points and opportunity areas - using the collaborative online whiteboard platform "Miro".

One of the most powerful moments within a creative project is when the team is so engaged in the process that simple doodles and sketches communicate the essence of the product, and everyone understands exactly how to translate this vision into a refined visualization.

Creative Process 2: Concept sketches, interaction principles and ecosystem relationships - using the collaborative online whiteboard platform
Creative Process 2: Concept sketches, interaction principles and ecosystem relationships - using the collaborative online whiteboard platform "Miro".

In short, we don’t sketch to impress but to communicate.

The outcome:

The outcome of our team’s efforts was a concept we called DEARY, a package-based home self-medication ecosystem for cancer patients. It consists of personalized medication vials with embedded RFID sensors that connect to a smart syringe and a digital assistant.

DEARY, our package-based home self-medication ecosystem for cancer patients.
DEARY, our package-based home self-medication ecosystem for cancer patients.

Once the prescribed dose is delivered to their home, the patient can use a digital assistant to authenticate and confirm the origin and ownership of the medication. Before each injection is administered, the information embedded in the vial sensors is confirmed by the syringe in order to ensure safe delivery and to protect the patient from expired or fraudulent medication.

The patient is never alone: the digital platform visualizes a step-by-step injection process, collects data on previous body parts injected and reminds the user of areas to avoid. At any moment, the patient can review his or her medical history, record secondary effects or treatment reactions, chat with an AI buddy if they have any concerns, and even reach out to the responsible doctor for future appointments or individual discussions.

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UI Workflow: DEARY Assistant

As sustainability and the correct disposal of electronic and hazardous waste components is a critical consideration, our DEARY packaging was conceived with a circular product lifecycle. Once a dosage has been completed in line with the prescription, the patient is guided through the digital assistant to repack the waste in the package and post it back to the responsible entity. When the patient’s doctor has approved delivery of a new prescription, the platform places the order and the logistics for the next medication is efficient and customized. By integrating the patients into Takeda´s ecosystem, data analytics that drive future product innovation and offerings become available, while DEARY becomes the enabler for a sustainable packaging strategy in the pharmaceutical industry.

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Our pitch during the design challenge. Presented by Carolina, Team Lead Industrial Design at designaffairs.

Takeda described our concept as the “best solution in patient centricity” and chose DEARY as one of four overall winners in the design challenge. We now look forward to collaborating closely with the company as we seek to make tangible their visions for the development of patient-centric products and services. For designaffairs and Takeda ─ and indeed for healthcare stakeholders around the world too ─ the future just got a little bit brighter.

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