Histamine Quick Test
Industrial Design Case Study | small and intuitive: design for a better life
Food test in real time
Defortec is a partner in a research project that investigated the feasibility of a rapid histamine test until 2019. The project partners also include the NMI (Natural and Medical Sciences Institute at the University of Tübingen) and Contexo GmbH. The quick test is intended to enable people with histamine intolerance to determine the histamine content of food quickly and reliably.
Histamine in food is a problem
Around three percent of people worldwide suffer from histamine intolerance, or around a quarter of a billion people. In Germany there are about two million people who have to do without numerous foods. Until now, histamine analyses have been laboriously carried out in the laboratory; individual testing was not possible. Since the histamine content of fish, cheese or wine, for example fluctuates depending on freshness or degree of ripeness, laboratory analyses are of little help in everyday life.
Determine histamine at home?
The research project was designed to investigate whether a test principle developed by the NMI can be transferred into a product so that private users can independently and spontaneously determine the histamine levels of their food.
The project was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics as part of the Central Investment Program for Medium-Sized Businesses (ZIM).
Process design and industrial design
Defortec concentrated on aspects related to industrial design like ergonomics, materials, aspects of production and design. The single-use product is to be manufactured by injection molding with biodegradable plastics. The project, which lasted over two years proved to be extremely complex - not only because of the new test procedure but also because of the demands of miniaturization, mass production capability and the ability to test both liquid and solid foods.
Design Thinking at the start
At the start of the project, defortec invited all project partners to the Design Thinking Workshop, which first defined the target group, their expectations and the use case. The concrete development included extensive series of tests especially with regard to functional and ergonomic aspects. From the CAD drafts new functional models were generated again and again using 3D printing and the use and miniaturization were perfected - after all, the end product should be about the size of an insulin pen.
Usability in focus
The product concept which is currently at the preliminary project conclusion is based on a slim cylinder at the tip of which the solid or liquid samples are taken. The result is optically displayed only minutes later on the integrated test strip. The prototype designed by defortec is very detailed and already optimized for mass production by injection molding. The start of production however, has not yet been determined; NMI is currently working on practical field testing of the process.
It is currently not possible to predict when the histamine quick test will be available as a product suitable for everyday use.
Read about the challenges defortec had to overcome and how the innovative project will continue in the detailed CaseStudy.