Disclaimer: This site does not provide medical advice. The user interfaces and terminology presented on this page are for non-medical informational purposes only. They are solely intended to convey my work process and output. The content shown here may not match what has been implemented on the da Vinci Surgical System and it should not be used for any training purposes.
The da Vinci Xi Surgical System is a robotic surgical system designed to facilitate minimally invasive surgery. It is commonly used for prostatectomies, hysterectomies, and a myriad of other urologic, gynecologic and general surgical procedures. The system consists of a surgeon's console, a vision cart, and a patient-side cart with four interactive robotic arms. The surgeon uses the console's controls to precisely maneuver a stereoscopic camera and instruments, which are installed on the robotic arms.
On the armrest of the surgeon console is a 5 x 3.75 inch touchscreen that doctors use during surgery. On it doctors can modify settings such as those that affect brightness, volume, notifications and electrosurgery. They may also trigger actions such as reorienting the camera, taking a picture and exchanging instrument control with a surgeon on a second console.
The da Vinci system periodically has system software updates to add new features and fix bugs. For a major one of these updates, the surgeon’s console touchscreen required a significant redesign to accommodate a slew of new features in the pipeline. Given the importance and delicate nature of this UI (it’s the primary touchscreen interface used by thousands of surgeons during robotic procedures), it was a collaborative effort between several departments. This included, but was not limited to, design (where I was the lead UX designer), software engineering, clinical experts, human factors, technical publications and product marketing. Throughout the iterative design process, my UI mockups and interactive prototypes were evaluated in in-house design reviews and user tests with doctors.
There are four armpods, each representing one of the robot’s arms. With the introduction of new advanced tools, more space for buttons and information was needed, so the armpods were made taller and wider.
Size was increased to make it easier for users to tap their intended target.
This is an expandable scrolling panel for buttons that either trigger an action (e.g. take a photo), toggle a setting (e.g. hide/show non-essential notifications) or open an overlay with more controls (e.g. audio controls button opening a panel of audio controls). On the previous dashboard UI, all elements were statically positioned. Problem was, with so much of the pixel real estate already spoken for, the addition of just about any button meant significant UI redesign. The expandability of the new scrolling panel meant many features could be added in future software updates without a UI overhaul.
Each quick setting’s icon/label combination can exist in one of three transparency styles which denote one of three states.
Transparent icon/opaque label = feature is available to use but it is turned off.
Opaque icon/opaque label = feature is available to use and it is on.
Transparent icon/transparent label = feature is not available or ready to use.
The new UI also leverages larger graphics, which tend to be faster to comprehend and are not as susceptible to problems that arise when translating text.
Moving some UI elements like sliders and buttons into overlays made a significant number of pixels available for other features. It also contributed to the dashboard looking cleaner and less cluttered. We made sure though to add dynamic indicator graphics to the buttons so users would not need to dig into the overlays to see a feature’s state, e.g. brightness level. Users would still be able to see this information at a glance on the dashboard.
Data we collected told us that there are some features that are not used frequently, but are often toggled on and off frequently when they are used. One example of this is the Firefly toggle, which is a feature that allows surgeons to identify key landmarks within tissue by causing injected dye to fluoresce. Not all procedures use this technology, but when it is used, surgeons may need to turn it on and off frequently. Before the redesign, if doctors wanted to activate this feature from the console, they would need to navigate to the more comprehensive settings tab. Quick access buttons were added to the dashboard/instruments tab as part of the redesign to make this and similar features more accessible.
The da Vinci system allows two consoles to be simultaneously connected so two surgeons can work together on a procedure. Dual console surgery is sometimes used by teachers and students, other times it is for two peers working collaboratively.
In addition to the feature that allows doctors to pass control of an individual instrument arm to each other, there is also a feature that allows doctors to change control of all instrument arms at once. Before the redesign, it was SWAP ALL. After the redesign it became GIVE ALL or TAKE ALL, depending on the proportion of instruments the surgeon was controlling. The logic for how groups of instruments are exchanged was modified to improve usability and to better serve the predominant use cases we were observing.