How Innovative Design Principles Are Revolutionizing Gene Sequencing

A look into the design of PacBio Revio

April 25, 2023

In June of 2021, the PacBio team approached Whipsaw to design its next-generation gene sequencing system. The result: Revio. By advancing concepts from a previous version, integrating a new design philosophy, and defining an all-new interaction model, we delivered strategies for precise outcomes with the user experience at the forefront of its design. Accordingly, Revio excels in both gene sequencing and corporate investment.

Advancing Concepts and Integrating Innovative Design Principles

During the design and development process for Revio, we took a critical look at PacBio’s previous sequencing technology. PacBio wanted to improve workflow efficiency, introduce new sequencing features, and define a new design language centered on the user.

While problem-solving, our award-winning design thinking and product design approach, led us to focus on new outcomes for PacBio by partnering with their R&D lab. There, we identified an opportunity to alter the interaction points of the machine, allowing better alignment with users’ day-to-day activities and ability to process samples. We captured these user touch points and the initial model of the physical sequencing machine with interactive renderings of the concept. The interactive digital prototype was then used to explore opportunities and generate valuable feedback from users.

Revio Gene Sequencing System

Through our process, we refined a final solution that shifts data input from the instrument interface to the PacBio SMRT Link web app, which offers researchers greater flexibility in creating, managing, and scheduling experiments asynchronously, even providing the option to do so remotely. To initiate a sequencing run, users simply place their NFC-tagged sample plate and consumables onto the work deck, which then automatically loads their experiment details on the display screen for confirmation. This process adjustment reduces setup time to less than one minute. When running, sequencing takes place in the lower area of the machine, allowing researchers to access the work deck to set up back-to-back runs for increased operational efficiency. With Revio, researchers can generate up to 1,300 human genomes per year – 15X more than what was previously possible.

Innovative and Inspiring  Design

Working within the same dimensions and frame as the previous model, our team helped increase Revio’s presence in a lab environment with a revived exterior and refreshed internal work deck. We channeled Revio’s precision and sophistication into its aesthetic treatments. The industrial design team clad the equipment in bold, architecture-inspired superficies with a sleek black glass door opening to an all-white work deck interior, a nod to present-day lab environments.

Revio Exterior

Revio’s exterior is a stark contrast to trends from other technology in the industry. The team purposely used this simplified tone to create a powerful presence in all lab spaces. The monolithic block of black glass juxtaposed with whimsical pops of color adds to the machine’s form and function. Revio’s notable status light provides a moment of asymmetry in an otherwise dominating design, indicating the different stages of processing and allowing users to see the status of their experiment up to 20 feet away from the machine.

“As you approach [Revio], you get a little bit more information with every step,” states Walker Harden, Whipsaw Director of User Experience Design. “Of course, you can see all information on SMRT Link remotely, but if you’re within line of sight, you can look over your shoulder and get some quick information from the status light. Meanwhile, if you’re walking around the lab, you can check on sequencing progress.”

Revio External Display

Revio’s external display features customizable naming, so labs can inject a dose of personality, instead of relying on index cards and sticky notes taped to the front door panel. An addition to a cleaner look, custom-named machines are much easier to remember than an ID code. Plus, it directly addresses the existing user workarounds in a nicely considered and integrated way. Whether the naming conventions are inspired by Marvel characters, Star Wars Jedi, Pokémon, or are purely creative, these are a refreshing indicator to users in the lab or those visiting. The revived design creates a strong user relationship that continues to build trust and ownership in the process and its heroic outcomes.

“Design isn’t just about aesthetics, it’s about creating tangible value that resonates with your audience. Revio’s Q4 2022 launch success proves that investing in great design yields exceptional ROI.” - Walker Harden, Director of User Experience Design

Revio continues to exceed industry expectations. Some of Revio’s first customers are the Human Genome Project: Baylor College of Medicine, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Wellcome Sanger Institute, and Washington University in St. Louis. Revio is gaining traction in the bioscience sphere, with 76 orders in the fourth quarter of 2022, the most successful product announcement in PacBio’s history. At Whipsaw, we strive to expand our design profile in unique industries to create cutting-edge innovation. Revio will help bioscientists create scientific solutions of the future, and working to help accelerate these solutions is an honor. Revio demonstrates intentional design for advanced solutions, cost-effective efficiency, and showcases our commitment to exceptional design that transcends business value.

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