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Emergo by UL's HFR&D team

Early-Stage Consulting for Medical Device Development

Applying our know-how and experience in research, human factors, design and regulators’ expectations to help you chart a path forward for new product development.

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Medical device development begins with discovery

Some call it Phase 0. Some call it Discovery. Some call it working at the Fuzzy Front End. We call it the best opportunity you have to uncover opportunities, identify users’ needs and establish the right direction for new product development.

myTSF™ Mobile App screenshot


“ Wearing a TSF for several months can be a daunting experience. The SN vision was to create a companion for the patient on their TSF journey. The team at Emergo immersed themselves in the world of TSF and breathed life into that vision.”

        Read Smith+Nephew case study

Applying a collaborative approach, we can help you chart a path forward. Perhaps you want to explore possibilities to enhance the user experience through innovative solutions. Perhaps you need a defined strategy to guide project prioritization or align business stakeholders to a common vision. Perhaps you want to survey the market landscape for the next big trends or determine where you can create a new trend. In all cases, understanding the opportunity space — including unmet user needs, underserved markets or emerging trends — will be key to your success.

Emergo by UL's HFR&D team


We recommend that you diligently study the area of interest before you start to create, and we can serve a crucial role as your partner in this phase. Specifically, we can provide the right cross-functional team from our large pool of researchers, designers, human factors specialists, engineers and regulatory experts to clarify the following:

  • Outstanding user needs and unfulfilled desires
  • Development opportunities and value propositions
  • Competitive landscape and analysis
  • Trend reports
  • Exploration of early solutions, including ideation and evaluation
  • Use-related risk potential
  • Regulatory pathways and strategy

Our approach to the medical device development process

  • Explore: Research and analyze impacts to the user experience, including safety, scope, feasibility and unresolved user needs.
  • Diverge: Lead collaborative design sessions to explore the “design space” and, ultimately, produce a wide range of practical to blue-sky concepts.
  • Evaluate: Present concepts, such as sketches or prototypes, to prospective users and stakeholders to collect impressions and recommendations.
  • Converge: Select and refine the most promising concept(s) as a starting point for focused product development or broader product strategy.
  • Confirm: Conduct a cross-functional review of concepts with key stakeholders to confirm feasibility and gain alignment on selected directions. This review might determine the need for further research or development to inform decision-making, noting that a design iteration is not a negative outcome but an opportunity to drive excellence.

We approach our work in a practical manner that emphasizes substance and usability over style alone. As such, we see ourselves as the right partner to drive a discovery process leading reliably to winning concepts that promise to meet or exceed functional needs and deliver a great user experience.


Our Discovery activities have crossed a wide variety of applications, for example:

Heartrate monitor

Spending days observing the use of telemetry technology on a medical/surgical unit in a hospital to help determine the safest course of future patient monitoring system development efforts.


Working with parents of infants to determine the desirable characteristics of an infant-sized nebulizer.

Heart with a lightning bolt icon

Conducting observations and interviews of EMTs and paramedics to determine the desirable features of a patient monitor/defibrillator.

Hospital icon

Examining treatment rooms within several endoscopy units and interviewing physicians, nurses and anesthesiologists to determine challenges within and opportunities to improve specific treatments, with a focus on key features of a new piece of capital ablation equipment.


Medical file icon

Conducting observations and interviews of clinicians and patients in dialysis clinics to help shape a vision for home dialysis solutions.


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