International – Considering icons for mobile applications and connected medical devices

It seems like there is a new smartphone, mobile app, or connected device on the market every month. These increasingly “smart” mobile applications, dashboards, and connected devices often rely on icons to simplify the user interface (UI), save visual space, and communicate use-related information to users. This creates a specific design challenge because different user groups (e.g., adult patients, adolescent patients, nurses, physicians) have different experiences with technology and, therefore, might not understand the meaning of even some of the more common icons used today.

Many icons, even those we consider to be very common, can still be subject to misinterpretation because design patterns used in mobile interfaces and connected devices have only been around for a number of years and are not always used consistently. ANSI/AAMI HE75:2009, one of the leading guidance documents on the design of medical devices, recommends that symbols should only be used if they are commonly recognized by the intended user in a specific clinical setting (i.e., 85% of users identify the same symbolic meaning)…