Product: Dictaphone PowerMic II

UX design of a microphone for physician dictation and editing

Engagement: Design workshop, UX design, formation of a design team, and customer research with physicians

Product: A microphone for physicians to dictate and process patient notes using Physician's Workstation (Dictaphone is now part of Nuance). You can even buy the PowerMic on

"Hal conducted a usability study on my products. He was very flexible about the approach, ensuring we got good value for the money spent. He communicated his findings to internal stakeholders in a very effective manner, influencing people's thinking without creating defensiveness on anyone's part. This is an art, and matters as much as the usability findings themselves if you're looking to change a product for the better.”
– Dave Pearah, Senior Director of Product Management, Dictaphone

Details: We helped Dictaphone design a new microphone to allow more efficient dictation. It includes controls for dictating, navigating, reviewing, and editing speech recognition-generated documentation about patient encounters. To further enhance usabliity, the microphone includes navigation controls so users do not have to move between it and a mouse.

We formed a team including a visual designer, an industrial designer and a model maker to work with the client’s hardware and software engineers.

The project started with a Design Workshop to refine requirements. Participants used markers and stickers to indicate features and placement on wood blocks representing the microphone. We used those mockups to generate our first prototype, made of Fom-Cor cutouts attached to existing microphones (shown at the top of the page with the final product).

Mockups of the microphone

In the Design Workshop, team members showed features they wanted to include (left). A model maker helped us explore not just the look, but the feel of the microphone (right).

We reviewed further refinements for comfort and access to the controls and tested it with radiologists in a local hospital.

This successful product is in use with and without the Dictaphone/Nuance software. The best part: Seeing it in use in a doctor's office!

Other projects for Dictaphone: Physician's Workstation for Web and a handheld device and a number of related software tools.

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Contact Hal Shubin at 617 489 6595,, or fill in this form.