Many individuals and families want to monitor their own health at home and in their communities. Trips to a clinic or hospital can be inconvenient and intimidating, leading to delayed treatment. Such visits also expose people to potential infection. Telehealth accelerated during the COVID-19 crisis. Tracking population data helped public health officials respond to the pandemic.

Content from the exhibition Design and Healing: Creative Responses to Epidemics, curated by MASS Design Group and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum


Cue COVID-19 Test, 2020
The Cue COVID-19 Test detects the RNA of the virus that causes COVID-19. The accuracy of this portable test is similar to that of a laboratory test. The user inserts Cue’s lower nasal swab into a cartridge, which connects to the Cue Health Monitoring System. Results are sent to a mobile smart device in about 20 minutes.

An at-home Covid-19 testing device consisting of a nasal swab, a cartridge, and a box placed beside a mobile phone which displays the results of the test on its screen

Cue Health, Inc. (San Diego, California, USA, founded 2010); Plastic, electronics; Courtesy of Cue Health, Inc.


M50L Fingertip Pulse Oximeter
In April 2020, Dr. Richard Levitan observed that many COVID-19 patients in New York City were becoming afflicted with pneumonia before experiencing severe symptoms. Dr. Levitan advocated the use of pulse oximeters at home. These low-cost, over-the-counter devices detect low oxygen levels and encourage patients to seek treatment sooner.

Yellow and gray rounded rectangular device with opening to insert a finger and an LCD screen on the top

Biolight (Zhuhai, China, founded 1993); Plastic, electronics; Museum purchase


Kinsa QuickCare Smart Thermometer, 2018
The Kinsa phone app pairs directly to the Kinsa smart thermometer, permitting the user to receive advice from an in-house clinician regarding body temperature and other symptoms. The app also aggregates anonymized data about users’ temperatures.

A blue lollipop-shaped digital thermometer posed with a smartphone displaying its corresponding app

Kinsa Inc. (San Francisco, California, USA, founded New York, New York, USA, 2012); Plastic, electronics; Courtesy of Kinsa Inc.

This map from March 2020 anticipates outbreaks of COVID-19 in some parts of the country.

A grey-toned map of North America indicating where fevers were occurring across the US in March 2020 in blocks of yellow, orange and red detailing anonymized data from its smart thermometer

Infographic: Kinsa, Inc.


Wearable Sensors, 2017–21
John A. Rogers, a physical chemist and materials scientist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, creates medical-grade wearable devices. These devices can be applied to optimal parts of the body (unlike a wristwatch) and can be used to track a wide range of body processes. Sensors designed to monitor COVID-19 track coughing, vocalization, and temperature.

White oblong sensor in soft, rubbery material

COVID-19 coughing and vocalization sensor; John A. Rogers (American, b. 1967); Silicone, electronics; Courtesy of John A. Rogers, Cooper Hewitt Responsive Collecting Initiative

A clear rectangular rubbery sensor with bronze-colored circuitry in squiggly lines and squares

Neonatal ECGs and skin temperature sensor; John A. Rogers (American, b. 1967); Silicone, electronics; Courtesy of John A. Rogers

A plastic white disc with round brown circuitry at its center and indentions around the circumference in purple and yellow

Sweat loss and sweat chemistry sensor; John A. Rogers (American, b. 1967); Silicone, electronics; Courtesy of John A. Rogers

A rubbery white square with rounded edges, raised squares, and thin black openings

Full-body motions in infants sensor; John A. Rogers (American, b. 1967); Silicone, electronics; Courtesy of John A. Rogers

Clear rubbery sensor with a circular component at left and a rectangular one at right printed with a yellow band a sequence of numbers

Hydration level of the skin sensor; John A. Rogers (American, b. 1967); Silicone, electronics; Courtesy of John A. Rogers

Purple rectangular sensory in rubbery material with raised ridges and a rectangular protrusion at its center

Hydrocephalus flow monitoring sensor; John A. Rogers (American, b. 1967); Silicone, electronics; Courtesy of John A. Rogers


Catch HIV Testing Device Prototype, 2018
HIV is a treatable illness if caught early. Catch, designed by Hans and Farah Ramzan, is an HIV test that is as easy to use as a home pregnancy test. Users slide the antibacterial sleeve over their finger. Pressing the device draws blood up through a pipette and channels it onto an absorption strip. Catch is under development for manufacture.

Side view of a pair of light-skinned hands holding a white device, with a thick, flat bottom extending into a squat tube, between the index fingers of both hands

Hans Ramzan (British, b. 1994), Research by Farah Ramzan (British, b. 1998); Plastic; Courtesy of Hans Ramzan


DoorMate Touch Tool, 2020
This tool allows people to avoid touching doorknobs, keyboards, and buttons. The hook is designed for pushing or pulling door handles. Nearly 11,000 units have been given to local hospitals, schools, and police stations in Norwich, UK.



Sigma Touch Tool, 2020
This small brass device is designed to latch onto a key chain. The hooked surface is for pulling door handles and the subtle protrusion is for pushing buttons.

Squiggly bronze shape similar to a number 3 with a round opening at its right

Craighill (New York, New York, USA, founded 2015); Machined brass; Museum purchase


FEND Airway Hygiene, 2020
FEND was conceived by David Edwards, a biomedical engineer specializing in the science of inhalation. FEND creates a mist of water and salt that coats the nose and trachea. By keeping the upper airways hydrated for about six hours, the salts enable clearance of inhaled allergens and pathogens, including COVID-19. FEND is being used in homes, schools, film studios, and hospitals in the USA and India.

A dark-skinned woman closes her eyes and inhales from a white hourglass-shaped mister held several inches from her face, from which stems a thin cloud of white steam

Tabletop FEND: Tom Devlin (American, b. 1964) and David Edwards (American, b. 1961); Calcium-enriched saline solution; Tabletop: ABS plastic and silicone; Pocket: polycarbonate, ABS, and polypropylene plastic; Courtesy of FEND


Ventizolve Naloxone Kit, 202
Ventizolve is a portable device for treating opioid overdoses with naloxone. A bystander can insert the applicator into the nostril of a person who has overdosed. Ventizolve embraces a harm-reduction (rather than criminalization) approach to the opioid pandemic. The package is comfortable to hold and free of the stigma associated with carrying a syringe. It can be identified by touch from inside a bag or backpack.

A light-skinned left hand holds a curved lozenge-shaped green-blue plastic device containing naloxone in a loose grip. The device is about the size of their palm and has text on the surface

ANTI (A New Type of Interface) (Norway, founded 2008); Dne Pharma AS (Norway, founded 1900); Plastic, pharmaceutical substances; Courtesy of ANTI, Cooper Hewitt Responsive Collecting Initiative

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