Qube – Overcome the fear of needles | Design Sprint 19

With “QUBE”, product design student Alicia Lorena Müller has designed a product that fills a gap in the market: The goal of her design sprint was to design an aid for children to overcome their fear of needles/injections, which offers both distraction and reassurance in acute situations and can be used as a therapy aid at home.


Trypanophobia, commonly known as fear of needles, is the #1 phobia of all phobias worldwide. According to studies, the number of people affected worldwide has increased from 25% (1995) to 65% (2012).

In Germany, approximately 20-30% of all children are affected, which corresponds to between 2.14 and 3.21 million children.

Trypanophobia manifests itself differently from case to case. However, the consequence is usually the same: an avoidance of injections, infusions, transfusions and all other processes involving a syringe/needle.

The phobia usually develops from the age of five. This is exactly why the Qube addresses children at a young age: To prevent phobia from manifesting in the first place.


At the beginning, it was not certain how a possible product could look like in the end because there are no comparable products on the market yet.

To be able to understand the situation, Alicia interviewed several persons affected and, on the basis of these interviews, identified starting points that could be used to help them overcome their fear.



Finding a name

The Qube is an educational toy that can be used at home or on the go. For children, it is supposed to create a positive link with the process of injection so that they do not develop a fear of needles in the first place. In case of an already existing fear, the Qube is intended to help establish new positive associations and thus alleviate the fear.

The Qube has five sides with playful pictures. Each one shows a different motif that can be discovered. The town musicians make animal sounds, the fireworks light up the “sky.” If the child taps next to the keyboard, the piano plays a melody; the microphone, on the other hand, sings a song. Finally, applying pressure with the syringe helps the fire department to extinguish a fire or the child can watch how a flower rotates thanks to the interaction.

The syringe is the keypiece of the Qube. It has a metal tip that must touch the metal platelet in the provided indentations to close the electric circuit and thus trigger a reaction. To simulate filling and squeezing the syringe, there is a red cylinder inside that disappears or appears by moving the hollow plunger. This makes the syringe appear either full or empty and can be used playfully. However, this process is not crucial for triggering the reaction. It is purely for better association with a real syringe.

At home, the Qube can be stored on its station. The sixth, motif-free side of the cube is placed on the induction surface of the charging station.

The station is connected to the power supply via a USB-C cable and thus serves as a charging cradle for the mobile cube. A built-in LED ring indicates whether the cube is empty (red), in the charging process (orange), or fully charged (green).

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Lydia writes about design processes and our medical design projects.

Originally written by Lydia Münstermann, 18. April 2023. Last updated 02. May 2023


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