Big QuestionsOur work related to complex challenges.

The Challenge

Design an over-the-counter, drug-free alternative wearable device for chronic pain sufferers.


A first-of-its-kind device called Quell, a wearable that provides 100 percent drug-free relief from chronic pain.

Quell stimulates the sensory nerves, triggering the body’s natural pain-relief response and blocking pain signals in the body.

Chronic pain changes everything. Symptoms associated with chronic conditions can make activities that were a normal part of life—getting regular exercise or even a good night’s sleep—difficult to bear.

NeuroMetrix, an innovative health-care company based in Waltham, Massachusetts, developed Quell® to help treat chronic pain in people suffering from nerve, arthritic, back, leg, and foot conditions. Using a revolutionary technology called wearable intensive nerve stimulation (WINS), this device triggers widespread relief and, in a clinical study, reduced chronic pain and use of medication in thousands of users.

NeuroMetrix came to IDEO to help create the industrial design, interaction design, and mechanical engineering to bring Quell to the consumer market. Quell is a device that is placed in a sports band with a lightweight, slim design that fits comfortably on the upper calf and delivers therapy for chronic pain in the body. Its patented OptiTherapy™ technology is customized and automatically adjusts the therapy dose for optimal relief. An accompanying app, developed by Atomic Object, allows users to track treatment sessions, measure and understand the quality of their sleep as it relates to their pain, and personalize device settings.

IDEO’s work with Quell went beyond creating the product to something bigger—reframing chronic pain. For people who are in a constant state of suffering, the ability to take some measure of control allows them to feel more like active participants in their treatment plan, and to regain confidence.

IDEO’s expertise in leveraging consumer insights around our neurotechnology and application to pain relief translated into a lightweight, high tech product design that seamlessly fit into our end users’ lives.

Shai Gozani, M.D., Ph.D., and President/CEO of NeuroMetrix

Consumer Goods and Services
Medical Products and Services
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