Frontend designs and mobile application


The first mlCF proof of concept study started in February 2016 in Finland. The aim of this iterative, agile prototype development was to learn more about user needs and acceptance based on tests and feedback. The project included a co-created design of a mobile interface enabling users to capture ICF-related structured information and to provide a “Functioning Profile” of the user.

Adults with physical disabilities, such as stroke and spinal cord injury (n=47), and children with cerebral palsy or communication disabilities (n=11), participated in several workshops to inform the frontend design for adults and children, respectively. To test the application in real-life situations, the adults (short grown people, n=19) downloaded a beta version from Appstore or PlayStore to their own mobile phones or tablets and used it for a week.  The children (n=11) used it in school. Users were then interviewed to determine their experience.

All users, except one adult, found the prototype easy to use, accepted it and had a favourable response, because it enabled the description of life situations. They would especially use mICF if it could be connected to their health record and to all electronic health and social service systems that they use. Adults would use the application when applying for benefits or before engaging social or health services. They recommended navigation to be improved and bugs fixed. A tutorial, more visually-attractive summary reports and the ability to visualise changes over time, were requested. Children were excited to use the application as a tool for their voices to be heard.

In the meantime, one of the mICF partners, Swirl Design, developed an innovative methods and techniques for human-computer interfaces (HCI) referred to as spatial user interaction (SUI). It is a significant advance of the conventional graphic user interface (GUI) that was invented with the paperless office metaphor, and that presents interactive items (icons, files, folders, windows, menus) on a flat screen. Whereas it was adequate in the past to work with 30 items on a computer screen in an office, the virtualized world of the future poses a much bigger demand. There is much more content available and the data structures are extended – hundreds of contacts, thousands of photos, and multi-year timelines of media or conversations, for example. Furthermore, in the everywhere-anytime world of mobile technology, screens are smaller, interactions more frequent and shorter –a glance of a few seconds, sometimes.

Swirl Design solves this problem of too much information on a small screen and, importantly, how to give the user more control and access to information. It changes the paper metaphor of flat and passive data waiting for a click, by making the interaction dynamically responsive to the user: more natural, intuitive and immersive. Swirl’s focus is the ‘prosumer’, namely the professional worker that wants to use a consumer device for productive work and is willing to learn new skills to increase efficiencies and capabilities.

The range of interaction techniques offered by Swirl Design comprises:

  • Swirl for smartwatch: how to control 150 icons on a watch (also tablet or TV) screen – and beyond what is apparent: each icon can be visualized on two-thirds of the screen at a time – useful for long ordered lists, pictures ad icons, also emoji keyboards.
  • Snips: small nimble information packets readily available on a smartwatch: published data points, such as from a CHW to a service user, to have everything in place anytime
  • Glimpse: a novel interaction technique for interaction in less than three seconds, typically used for Snips.
  • Pollical, a mini control pad for handheld tablets: for single handed operation, to hold and control the device, while effectively navigating an ordered data structure.
  • Recursion, for touch screens: a visual, seamless navigation through hierarchical data structures (into and out of) – the back button is not needed anymore.

Each technique is characterized to these facets: how to have maximum control of the underlying data structure within the constraints of the screen to visualize the process. Swirl Design can provide a solution with the features:

  • Integrated into the device, a tablet or smartwatch
  • Designed for quick and minimal interaction (few seconds)
  • Two-way communication with a host system
  • Custom configurable for the specific application

The success of Swirl Design is a sharp focus on the most crucial aspect of user interaction and how to solve that problem with a method that can be easily adopted and widely used.

The interface for mICF developed by Swirl Design, one of the our partners