Thinking Ahead Project 6 | AlliGo. What to do when an anaphylactic shock occurs?

The sixth thinking ahead project is due to Alice McCutcheon. The industrial design student from the U.K. engaged in a relatively unnoted topic during her internship at WILDDESIGN in Gelsenkirchen: the handling of allergy shocks. When affected persons are well informed about their allergies themselves, there is usually no need to worry. But imagine someone having an anaphylactic shock at a restaurant, at school, or at a party. What would you do? In what ways do we need to take action when the affected person is not responsive?

The initial situation

Shortness of breath, rashes, swollen tongue, heart problems, unconsciousness – those are all symptoms that can possibly occur due to an allergy shock. Injections with adrenaline as emergency medication are called EpiPens. The adrenaline narrows blood vessels and broadens respiratory passages. Alice identified product-related problems and opportunities of the syringes and categorized them:

Usabilityhandling is not clear for unaware personsself-explanatory notes, so that syringes are applied
Priceincreased significantly during the past yearsone part of the product should be reusable: no frequent initial purchase
Sustainabilitysingle-use product, wastesubstitutable and recyclable parts
Transporttakes up space and is therefore often left at homefits into pocket, can be attached to other objects
Functionform und function do not go well togetherintegrate technology to support the function

Unawareness causes additional problems in emergency situations: many people panic and don’t know what to do. They often call the ambulance, which does not always get there on time. Forgotten EpiPens or unawareness about their injection impede the situation in addition.

A customer journey and an exemplary persona led Alice to the substantial need for improvement:

  • at home tests raise awareness for own allergy
  • the new product’s USPs are communicated by doctors, for example
  • low procurement time and long durability of the product
  • easy transport and application
  • reminder to replace the medical compound on time and discount for loyal customers

Primarily, Alice’s project goal was to create a lifesaver. A device, that treats an anaphylactic shock immediately, is not left at home and is simple to use for anyone.

The conception

Brainstorming and sketching led Alice to three concepts.

Concept A

This design resembles the visual appearance of a broad pen. That way, it might reduce inhibition of usage. The use can be put into three simple steps: a cap needs to be pulled off at the tool’s end, then it is held against the allergic person’s thigh and the tool’s other end is pushed – just like pushing a pen’s bottom. In doing so, the adrenaline is being injected. A circle on the instrument’s surface shows the status of the dose rate.

Concept B

The second device is broader than the first because it holds two dosages available for injection – which are often needed. This tool works intuitively as well: the skin colored part shows, which fraction belongs to the thigh. A protective cap needs to be removed before usage. The buttons‘ labels „dose 1“ and „dose 2“ are self-explanatory for users. A QR code gives access to urgent information like emergency contacts.

Concept C

The third design has an oval form and several additional features. With a clip on the back side, the device can be attached to pockets – very useful during transport. One needs to open a hatch on the back side and position the syringe within the tool before use. In order to unlock the instrument, the end needs to be pushed for two seconds. Subsequently, an audio instruction sounds and describes the further procedure to inject the dose into the thigh. It is even taken care of a second dosage: the procedure can be repeated when necessary.

The final details

The next step to reach the goal: prototyping to optimize ergonomics and to converge fitting human sizes. Alice used mood boards to come closer to the desired appearance. She even thought about marketing aspects: she designed a logo, expressed brand values and product associations. The brand goals:

  • Allergic persons shall have an active lifestyle without restrictions.
  • Clear communication and instructions lead to a calm user experience.
  • Users shall feel safe: even uninvolved persons are going to be able to help.

After the final finish of the concepts, Alice reached the project goal: the final design.

The result

The final product AlliGo combines the best approaches from all three concepts:

Appearance: the form is rectangular with rounded, smooth edges. Features for a safe usage: there is a small window on the front side that shows whether the medical compound was administered completely. A light circle above shows the status of injection. The application process is visualized on the back side. To insert the syringe, the hatch needs to be opened by shifting a red slider.

Transport: the device is protected at all times: AlliGo, the syringe and the medical compound can be carried all together in one packaging.

Key features: AlliGo is charged inductively. The syringes are still thrown away after the usage – but the instrument is being kept.

Another outstanding special feature: the device is connected to an app. The app enables the user to receive alarms when the present medical compounds expire soon. The other way around, an alarm can also be sent out: declared emergency contacts and an emergency doctor are called automatically when an emergency button is selected. Near Field Communication reminds the user to take AlliGo with him or her. Personal medical data about the specific allergy can be saved, if desired. That way, helpers, relatives, and doctors are immediately informed in emergency situations. A training raises awareness for users about the correct handling of their lifesaver.

More safety for the persons concerned and a correct handling of anaphylactic shocks by all involved persons – AlliGo takes care of it. Thanks to Alice for this creative achievement!

If you like this concept or single aspects of it, or if you think we should continue working on it, please let us know. We look forward to receiving your feedback at or via the e-mail button below.

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Jule writes about design processes and our medical design projects.

Originally written by Jule Opp, 11. January 2021. Last updated 13. January 2023


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