Industrial Design bids farewell to Professor Bambang Oetomo after 10 years

After ten years of collaboration with TU/e engineers, Sidarto Bambang Oetomo is leaving ID as part-time Professor on June 2. He was involved in the projects of SmartJacket and Mimo which resulted in Hugsy – a kind of cross between a mattress and a blanket that vibrates softly in the - recorded - rhythm of the mother’s heartbeat.

Here is a recap of the work he has been involved in, taken from the Cursor TU/e. The neonatologist in the past decade has worked together with students and researchers of especially the ID group Designed Intelligence. “When I became part-time Professor at Industrial Design in 2007 in the framework of a joint venture between the MMC and TU/e, I decided that the reduction of pain and stress, the enhancement of the comfort of incubator babies, had to be the chief aim of this joint venture.” 

In his opinion, one of the things that are essential is to give children in incubators the feeling that their mothers are nearby. “Research has shown that particularly holding a baby on the chest, which we also call kangaroo care, has a positive influence on the development.” In order to mimic that trusted, familiar feeling in the incubator, experiments were conducted by students led by Bambang Oetomo involving a small pillow, the Mimo, with a built-in heartbeat. That process eventually resulted in the Hugsy: a kind of cross between a mattress and a blanket that vibrates softly in the - recorded - rhythm of the mother’s heartbeat. The sense of proximity is increased further by the scent of the mother that is retained in the Hugsy.  

Another, related, research line involves measurement equipment. To measure the child’s heartbeat, breathing and oxygen intake, the baby often carries a whole load of sticky electrodes connected to the monitors via wires. This makes it awkward to lift the baby out of the incubator for a reassuring cuddle. In addition, fitting and replacing the electrodes is a painful as well as a stressful experience. One of the first and most important designs made under Bambang Oetomo’s guidance was the SmartJacket of then PhD candidate Sibrecht Bouwstra, whereby the electrodes are incorporated into a kind of baby suit. “At the time the SmartJacket rightly obtained a great deal of attention”, says the professor. “Subsequently the concept was developed further in a series of steps to an entirely wireless system that is now called the Bambi-Belt.” As no parties stepped in to put this finding on the market, Bambang Oetomo’s son Fabio urged him to do so himself. Now that he is retiring, he will get started within the resulting company, Bambi Medical, which is led by his son." 

We at Industrial Design, would like to thank Sidarto Bambang Oetomo for his work and contribution to our department, and wish him all the very best with his future endeavors.  

Read full article in Cursor