Beginning in June 2018 Cobalt implemented an accelerated NPD (new product development) process to develop the product to a first working prototype in just 7 months. To do this Cobalt established a highly collaborative involvement with magAssist's Suzhou-based team, with almost daily contact and numerous extended working visits (at least before COVID!). Following the initial stage and through 2019 magAssist continued development of their motor and patented impeller. Once Cobalt had set the console design direction, we began GUI development.
Extensive qualitative research of heart surgeons identified the need for clear and hierarchic information. From this, we developed a screen-based user interface that unambiguously displays critical information; and intuitive, precise control through the touchscreen and physical/haptic rotary controller. Meanwhile the console design and engineering CAD continued, culminating in the production of further prototypes and another in-person visit to magAssist. Remaining elements, including the adjustable motor arm, the motor enclosure design (with its distinctive cooling fins), right through to packaging design continued over the following months.
By early 2020, the first animal trials were successfully completed using live sheep. Since then magAssist has continued clinical trials and compliance proceedings for medical certification. Cobalt continued to support the project within a broader spectrum of work, with marketing support / animations, accessory design and production engineering refinement. Our work has also extended into other critical cardiac-care devices for magAssist, becoming a strategic development partner for the growing brand. To meet magAssist’s ambitious goals, almost every one of our staff had some involvement in this project in one way or another. So it was a special feeling in August 2021, when we learnt that the device had saved its first human life; a Chinese woman having a successful heart transplant after being kept alive for 12 days until a compatible donor heart was available.