Finalist 2023


Alessia Tsolakis / Monash University

‘SPOT’ is a handheld melanoma detection device monitoring and recording visual symptoms in changing moles.

Melanoma, a type of skin cancer that develops in skin cells called melanocytes, is projected to be the third most common cancer in Australia. Despite its prevalence, individuals can feel uncertain to independently identify symptoms. In response, I designed ‘SPOT,’ a self-contained mole monitoring device. Assisted by a removable wall mount and digital application, the user is able to compare moles easily at any time, even on difficult to reach places on the body.

Design Brief:

With an increasing number of Australian seeking extensive health prevention and promotion strategies in the comfort of their own home, 'SPOT' aimed to provide a convenient alternative to traditional mole screening services. The core objective of was to develop an innovative and user-centric product which promotes comfort and care through reliable self-assessment.

The expected outcome was to empower users to monitor moles accurately and comfortably, promoting early detection and proactive self-care. Its innovative design will transform the relationship between patients and healthcare professionals, fostering clear communication and reducing anxiety surrounding mole screenings.

This project was developed by:

  • Alessia Tsolakis

Design Process

Centring around a unity of creativity, curiosity and collaboration, the design process embraces immersive approaches to challenge how we can we confidently and accurately self-monitor moles over time. Guided by the ‘Double Diamond’ methodology, I began by thoroughly understanding the needs and aspirations of the end users. Participatory practices through collaboration with melanographers and melanoma patients motivated product development with a clear and supported vision, addressing specific concerns with confidence, and attesting to the significance of specialist communication in my own practice.

My approach to design celebrates tactility, preferring to rapidly mock up in three-dimensional form to drive innovation. Numerous concepts, constructed from cardboard, clay, 3D prints and more, were vigorously experimented to harmoniously blend aesthetics with functionality. The culmination of these efforts led to an ergonomic 1:1 scale prototype, complete with a removable wall mount and digital application adapting both manual and digital techniques.

Design Excellence

The leading question I am faced with as an emerging industrial designer is “what makes good design?”. This open-ended question has boundless answers from innovation to functionality or perhaps aesthetic consideration. I believe good design comes from the ability to target an audience by understanding the nuances of their behaviour and needs. This principle is at the core of 'SPOT'.

'SPOT' empowers individuals to capture moles up close and record data with a simple push of a button. By facilitating visual data collection before the patient steps into the clinic, the device encourages clear conversation and addressing specific concerns with health care professionals. Nurturing a positive relationship with our bodies and health. Moreover, the design can be used in the comfort of the home environment, minimising the stress and vulnerability that can be experienced during clinical mole screenings.

In essence, 'SPOT' sets a great benchmark for Australian design excellence proactively tackling an issue with which we are all too familiar. It goes beyond the “slip, slop, slap” catchphrase and establishes a new standard for melanoma care.

Design Innovation

'SPOT' is an innovative and distinctive product. Unlike conventional skin cancer screening apps or standard dermatoscopes, the device integrates a silicone base that comfortable contours to the skin creating an optimal studio lighting environment for consistently accurate photographs. The integrated LED lighting further enhances its ability to capture clear and reliable images. As a result, 'SPOT' facilitates clear and transparent dialogue with healthcare professionals, addressing specific concerns with confidence. Elevating the accuracy and quality of its diagnostic capabilities.

One of the prevailing challenges with current mole capturing methods is the dependency of another person to examine and validate changes in moles, especially at difficult to reach places on the body. However, 'SPOT' emerges as a revolutionary solution that addresses this limitation, promoting independence and self-reliance. This is achieved through the wall attachment feature accentuating its usability and accessibility. This attribute is particularly significant in diverse living situations, where immediate detection in changes in moles by another person may not always be feasible.

Design Impact

Individuals may feel motivated to visit a clinic as they become suspicious about a mole. However, during their clinic visit, they may lack records of how the mole has changed over time or may struggle to articulate their concerns effectively. With 'SPOT', the data collection process starts much earlier, allowing moles to be identified and monitored from the outset. Its profound impact is evident through the self-assurance, confidence and awareness it fosters. 'SPOT' is the product that would have benefitted my mother prior to the clinician apprising her of the urgency to remove the unidentified melanoma. Observing her today, self-consciousness about the scars, hesitant to wear certain clothing, and constant UV protection, serves as a stark reminder to the long-term impacts of melanoma. 'SPOT' aims to alleviate such experiences by embracing empathic design principles.

Design with sustainability in mind, 'SPOT' allows for an extended product lifespan through removeable and assumable parts. It is not intended to be a single-use disposable item, rather one that evolves with a person over time.

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