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A new approach to illicit drug testing harm reduction efforts. 

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Illicit drug usage in the U.S. has steadily increased over the past twenty years, leading to a rise in drug-related overdoses and deaths. In 2020, overdoses caused the loss of over 81,000 lives and cost the U.S. healthcare system $11 billion.

Image by camilo jimenez

Most Affected Population 

Illicit drug use is most prevalent among individuals in their late teens to mid-20s

The video shows all the tools required to complete a standard drug test strip. Each strip tests for only one cutting agent. 

Current Testing Methods 

Participants tested a fentanyl test strip and spoke about the challenges with the instructions and process.  

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"It is good to know this is out there, but it's not practical"

-User # 1

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"The instructions are so confusing, how am I supposed to know these measurements?"

-User # 2

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"I got a false positive on aspirin, that is concerning"

-User # 3

Participants are actual drug users and have asked for their identity to be kept anonymous.

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Medical Equipment 

Medical equipment often has smooth surface transitions, soft corners, and a limited color palette. 

Image by Abigail Lynn
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Colored Lights

Colorful blue and pink gradient lights are popular at clubs and music events.

Design Language

Loop utilizes design elements from both medical equipment and music/club venues to convey a sense of authority and trustworthiness, while also fitting seamlessly into its intended environment. The color scheme of blue and pink, commonly associated with music and club scenes, adds to this cohesive feel.

Loop is designed to fit into current behaviors. Bathroom placement also allows for this publicly accessible device, to be accessed in a more private area of venues. 

Design Context

A study conducted in the Netherlands found that a significant number of visits to club restrooms are drug-related.

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Initially, my design concepts centered on enhancing the test strip's functionality. However, as I delved deeper into the project's objective of promoting social acceptance and normalcy in testing, I shifted my focus to communal access items such as booths and stations. Eventually, I concluded that a smaller, more private yet publicly accessible station would be the optimal solution. To achieve this, I opted for a curved form and incorporated the visual language of medical equipment to create a station that blended both accessibility and privacy.


Initially, the station prototypes were vertical; however, during user testing, I realized that a horizontal format would be more effective in making the device more accessible and aligning with ADA guidelines.


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Final form 

Similar to a hand dryer, Loop is instilled and hard-wired onto the bathroom wall, using anti-vandalism bolts to secure it in place. (Click)  The eye level is 52" inches above the floor, following ADA guidelines.

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Loop had a camera under the display that tracks hand movement. Once positioned correctly the testing process will start. 

Testing Process and Tech. 

Loop utilizes near-future electronic nose technology, housed and protected by the plastic casing, to analyze the molecular structure of the substance's smell – literally sniffing out danger.

Safe Disposal 

The medical waste disposal unit, when closed, lies flush with the machine. When open, the design, similar to a mailbox, isolates the disposal tray from the waste storage unit, which is housed in the back of the station and accessible only by key.

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Leveraging Data
For Future Efforts 

Illicit substance use is understudied, making it difficult for states and the federal government to understand how to design solutions. In response, Loop anonymously collects results and provides a report to local governments

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