President's Design Award: Designs of the year

Medical devices among 10 winners

Winners: The portable ultrasound machine Vscan Access; the medical lancet Safeticet; and the National Design Centre. PHOTOS: AARON POCOCK, GE HEALTHCARE, NSP TECH
Winners: The portable ultrasound machine Vscan Access (above); the medical lancet Safeticet (right); and the National Design Centre (far right).
Winners: The portable ultrasound machine Vscan Access; the medical lancet Safeticet; and the National Design Centre. PHOTOS: AARON POCOCK, GE HEALTHCARE, NSP TECH

Many people associate drawing blood with a painful prick to the finger, but contract manufacturer NSP Tech has come up with a product to make blood tests a little less unpleasant.

The invention is called Safeticet, a medical lancet that pricks the skin more gently than a regular needle.

Safeticet is about 4.5cm long, about the size of a small USB flash drive. Users twist off the cap, press the open end on their finger and a short needle comes out to puncture the skin.

Because of a rotational trigger mechanism invented by NSP Tech, the needle automatically fires once there is a specific pressure level between the device and the skin surface.

In other lancets, a button may have to be pushed. But the user might not have applied enough pressure for the needle to prick deep, so too little blood is drawn; or they might have pressed down so hard that it hurts.

No frills and easy to use, Safeticet is a godsend for people who have to monitor their blood glucose levels, such as diabetes patients who have to test their blood several times a day.


Said to be the world's most painless, smallest and safest pricking device, it was one of 10 Design of the Year winners at this year's President's Design Award.

Design of the Year awards are given to projects completed here or those helmed by lead designers who are Singaporeans or permanent residents.

This year's recipients spanned disciplines from architecture to product design. They include a branding and design campaign for stationery label Bynd Artisan by design studio &Larry and an ultrasound machine by medical products-maker GE Healthcare and Singapore-based innovation design consultancy Chemistry.

Buildings that won the award include two Housing Board Built-To- Order projects - SkyTerrace@ Dawson and SkyVille@Dawson, designed by SCDA Architects and Woha respectively.

Most of the recipients are no strangers to the awards. Mr Larry Peh, &Larry's founder; Woha's founders Richard Hassell and Wong Mun Summ; and SCDA Architects' Chan Soo Khian were previous Designer of the Year winners.

What is surprising about Safeticet is that it is the first medical product made by a 20-year-old company that previously specialised in making electronic products and home appliances.

So far, more than 16 million units of it have been sold worldwide. In Singapore, it is available at Unity Pharmacy and Watsons. It costs $22 for a box of 100 Safeticets, which are not reusable.

The man behind it is NSP Tech's founder Joseph Lum, 54, a maverick inventor who studied up to Secondary 2. He was inspired to build a better medical lancet after noticing that other options on the market were bulky and painful to use.

"At that time, lancets on the market tended to copy one another. There was no breakthrough. Many people had to use one and I thought, 'Why has no one improved it?'"

The firm spent $6 million and about five years refining the design before launching the final version in 2012.

Mr Lum says: "A senior diabetes educator from America told me that Safeticet prolongs life. It encourages more blood-testing because it's no longer painful and that means patients can control their diseases better."

Another medical product that won a Design of the Year award is the Vscan Access, a portable ultrasound machine designed to be used in developing countries where pregnant women may have poor access to medical care. Its manufacturer GE Healthcare wanted to create a device that could detect pregnancy complications early.

Singapore design consultancy Chemistry was roped in to design the simple touchscreen interface that does not require a professional sonographer to operate. In the design process, the firm interviewed midwives and general practitioners to get feedback on various prototypes.


  • 1. Bynd Artisan by &Larry
    2. Enabling Village by Woha
    3. HP OfficeJet Pro 8720 All-in-One Printer by HP Inc
    4. National Design Centre by SCDA Architects
    5. Safeticet by NSP Tech
    6. Samsung "AddWash" by Samsung Electronics 7. SkyTerrace@Dawson by SCDA Architects
    8. SkyVille@Dawson by Woha
    9. Vscan Access by Chemistry and GE Healthcare 10. Wah Son @ Seletar Aerospace Park by ip:li Architects

The firm reduced the many functions of an ultrasound machine to six easy-to-use presets for common procedures the device is expected to be used for.

Chemistry's managing director Bassam Jabry, 42, says: "Our aim was to simplify the process of scanning and allowing midwives who may not be familiar with such a device to quickly learn and gain confidence in using it."

Natasha Ann Zachariah

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2016, with the headline Medical devices among 10 winners. Subscribe