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Design Research Innovation: Finn the Glucose Fish

There’s no reason toys and medicine can’t mix.

So says UC industrial design student Samantha Gustafson whose research into juvenile diabetes has resulted in a unique glucose meter design for young children – Finn the Glucose Fish – that has already won national attention.

Glucose meters (used to measure blood’s insulin levels) are lifelines for diabetics. The devices are often used dozens of times a day by those with diabetes seeking accurate information on the need for an insulin injection or the need to eat or drink (or the need to refrain from) certain food or beverages.

However, right now, even though more 13,000 young people are diagnosed with juvenile-onset diabetes (type 1 diabetes) each year, commercial glucose meters aren’t designed with young children in mind.

Gustafson is trying to change that. For a class project in which she designed Finn the Glucose Fish, she researched existing glucose meters and their functions, the practices and needs of diabetics, and children’s proportions and cognitive abilities. She also gained feedback on her design from diabetics and from health professionals.

Finn the Glucose Fish is the result – a sturdy, brightly colored, fish-shaped glucose meter and lancet design (not a prototype) specifically for children ages 2-8.

The design:

  • Fits the typical hand size of a small child.
  • Is child-friendly in terms of color and form, making it easier for a diabetic child to explain his or her needs to peers.
  • Is designed to provide simple electronic function options and icons suitable for a child, such as easy access and readability to results from the day’s previous glucose tests.
  • And Gustafson’s design calls for Finn to appear as an ever-growing gigapet every time the child has a good reading due to his or her nutritional habits and self-care.

Gustafson’s design has already won her a $7,000 prize from the California Health Association, a consulting/marketing session with IDEO, a prestigious global design and innovation firm, and an invitation to the Health 2.0 Conference in San Francisco.

Related Info:


  • Ashley Kempher, videographer and editor
  • Travis Estell, website editor
  • Clare Ward, narrator

More Information:

M.B. Reilly
Assistant Director, Public Relations
Edwards II, Suite 3300