Janina Hünerberg studied industrial design and medical design at the Muthesius University of Fine Arts and Design in Kiel. For her work, which is marked by its clear applications and strong focus on the user, Hünerberg was select as one of five finalists for the “German Design Awards Newcomer 2020” title, which comes with prize money.
We asked Hünerberg three questions about “mamelle”, a project which sits at the interface between design, digitalisation and agriculture/livestock farming, and which enables the user to optimise measurement and treatment processes.
Mrs Hünerberg, your project “mamelle” is situated at the interface between agriculture and digitalisation. Could you tell us a little bit about the project?
mamelle is a design for a measuring device which allows you to perform instant, on-site diagnosis of mastitis in dairy cows. Mastitis is a very common disease in dairy farming, and it can lead to increased bacterial contamination in milk as well as to the death of the cow. It is treated with antibiotics. In order to select the right antibiotic, you first need to identify the bacteria causing the infection. This is currently done by taking a milk sample to a lab for analysis. From the time the milk sample is taken, it can take several days to get the results back from the lab. Often, while waiting for the lab results, farmers resort to treating the infection based on guesswork – because this is the only way they can respond immediately to the disease. Once the results come back from the lab, the treatment is adjusted as necessary, i.e. the animal is administered an antibiotic which works precisely on the predominant bacterium.
mamelle makes it possible to analyse the milk straight away. It is a single device which is capable of taking samples, analysing the milk and displaying the results. The analysis results are also assigned to the respective cow and udder quarter in order to best document the progression of the disease. An optical measurement procedure is used to identify the type and quantity of pathogens in a matter of seconds. This makes it possible to select the correct course of treatment straight away. The cow can start to recover quickly, and antibiotics are only used if they are absolutely necessary.
What drew you to this issue? Why, in your opinion, is it relevant?
Using antibiotics incorrectly or excessively has long been suspected to cause the growth of resistant bacteria. But this isn’t the only reason antibiotics are controversial in agriculture. Consumers want their meat, milk and other agricultural products to be as free of residues and medications as possible. Treatment with antibiotics is also hard on the patient’s organism.
So, in general, the focus should be on using antibiotics in a targeted manner. By speeding up the diagnosis of mastitis in dairy cows, the use of antibiotics can be targeted more precisely in each specific case. This not only leads to faster treatment, it also means farmers are dealing with the issue in a more conscious way.
In general, the focus should be on using antibiotics in a targeted manner.
What makes your solution special? How innovative and useful would you say it is?
mamelle makes it possible to identify the cause of the infection immediately. In turn, this makes it possible to select a course of treatment which is targeted at the specific cause. This eliminates the need for excessive use of medication, and the cow is able to recover under the best possible conditions.
This design concept shows that it’s possible to use modern technologies and new ways of thinking to dismantle old structures and optimise the way we do things. This is highly useful for both cows and farmers – the faster a cow can get better, the faster it can get back to producing milk and making money for its owner. It also reduces the risk of generating antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Janina Hünerberg was born on 3 January 1992 in Hamburg. In 2012 she began her studies in industrial design at the Muthesius Kunsthochschule, Kiel, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2016. Two years later, she started her Master of Arts in Medical Design. Already during her studies Janina Hünerberg received several renowned awards, among them a recognition at the Bavarian State Prize for Young Designers and the Mia Seeger Prize for a measuring device for on-site diagnosis of mastitis in dairy cows. She also took first place in the Muthesius Prize and in the national round of the James Dyson Award.
Her most important work to date has also been in the field of medical design, including LYBOprotect, an antibiotic plaster for the prophylactic treatment of Lyme disease in tick bites, the non-invasive blood glucose meter BIDOO for dogs and cats and CONTIGO, an orientation aid that helps people suffering from early stage dementia to independently find their way home. Janina Hünerberg has been working as an industrial designer / medical designer at Holm & Laue GmbH & Co. KG since 2018.
Photo: © Martin Diepold/Grand Visions