Behind the Scenes: The Product Development Story of CERTUS

Food safety testing development requires attention to speed, accuracy, cost and ease-of-use.

CERTUS’s vision is to become globally-recognized as an innovative leader in food safety. Their mission is to put smart pathogen environmental control at your fingertips with no additional cost.

CERTUS approached Brooks Stevens to collaborate on the CERTUS Empower, a real-time pathogen testing device. Traditionally, food processing facilities take samples, send them to a lab, and wait days for results. The plan was to develop a product that could produce accurate results in a faster, easier way. 

Empower addresses two barriers food producers face when investing in facility management software: ease-of-use and cost. Empower combines a complete pathogen test workflow with a comprehensive facility management system. The platform allows customers to plan, test, remediate, and track results within their food production plants. Plus, the unit allows customers to perform food safety testing in-house with a much faster turnaround: swab to result in 24 hours.

The product development team took inspiration from “smartphone simplicity” and applied it to the product design. This approach is particularly noticeable in the graphical user interface (GUI) and the user-interface/user experience (UI/UX) design.

Form Inspiration

For this product our designers gathered a wide variety of visual inspiration from a number of diverse market segments based around the customers' keywords of “professional”, “inviting”, and “clean."

Concept Inspiration

Our designers explored many options for the device layout and manufacturing/material selection options. As the engineering team began to have the internals finalized the design team narrowed in on a sheet metal main housing assembly and an injection-molded front face.

Concept Refinement

Once we had selected a concept, our designers began working in the A-Side CAD to guide the engineering team on how we envisioned the final product and assembly methods. During this phase, the engineering team asked our designers to quickly explore concepts: how the test tube holders were presented and the doors articulate. We made sure to maintain our attention to detail with the entire user experience.

User Interface Exploration

As the hardware design and engineering were being finalized our designers began mapping the user experience for both the real world steps needed to maintain a clean facility and the digital interface and workflow that would make up the rest of the system. Data was gathered through expert interviews as well as via input from operators using traditional off-site labs. We presented many rounds of workflow concepts and began to refine the visual aspect of the UI. 

User Interface Refinement

Our design team worked closely with CERTUS’s marketing and branding team to finalize the layout for the UI. It was important that the visual voice was consistent with the core values that CERTUS laid out for the product. Above all, we wanted our users to at a glance know the state of the current tests and if there are any issues in their facility.

User Interface Handoff

Once we locked the workflow and the major graphical elements, we handed over our mockup flies to CERTUS's software development team to implement our design decisions and refined user experience. We were happy to see that nearly all of our design was maintained through to the live product.

Production Launch

The new Empower is disruptive technology for food processing facilities to test their work environments for pathogens including listeria. 

Brooks Stevens is proud to have been involved in the development of both the hardware and the software for the CERTUS system, and hope that the wider food safety industry sees the benefit of an on-site early warning solution to help them better maintain clean facilities, with less effort and guesswork.