2019 MDEA Finalist

gammaCore Sapphire™

gammaCore Sapphire™ is the newest generation of a hand-held, personal treatment option for people with migraine and cluster headache pain. Patients can treat themselves and begin to feel relief in as little as 15 minutes through the non-invasive and painless delivery of electrical stimulation to the vagus nerve.

Migraines and cluster headaches are debilitating conditions that impact all aspects of a person’s life. Many sufferers of these conditions are not satisfied with current treatments with concerns ranging from inconvenience to inconsistent relief. gammaCore Sapphire™ provides a safe and effective adjunctive therapy that when used with other treatments can reduce the amount of cluster attacks. Its non-invasive stimulation of the vagus nerve (a nerve that plays an important role in pain regulation) does not rely on surgery, but is able to provide relief through the skin. gammaCore Sapphire™ gives users a fast and reliable treatment to a debilitating condition.


In addition to a refresh of the gammaCore design identity, HSD worked with electroCore LLC to design the newest generation of gammaCore that targeted the use problems identified in the previous release. Together, the design and engineering team targeted dosing and charging to create a more user-centered operation. Goals of the project included determining a system for dosing that allowed for easy refills and re-use as well as a charging method that was an easier and more intuitive user experience.

Design Process

Formative interviews were utilized throughout the process in order to gain user insight on aesthetic form development, ergonomics, and user experience. An abundance of preliminary foam study models were made at the beginning of the design process. Multiple concepts were chosen and paired with various user interface designs to be tested with users. HSD walked through use scenarios with users to understand where, how, and how often the device would be used, providing insight into the holistic user experience of the product.

User Experience

Using the data from the formative studies and prototypes, HSD was able to greatly enhance the gammaCore user experience. A side slider membrane was implemented to allow the user to easily adjust the intensity of stimulation by sliding up and down over a tactile area of the enclosure. The stimulation level would be recorded and displayed before the user initiates the next dose. Including inductive charging capabilities to the travel case allowed it to double as the charging dock for easy transportation and storage. This eliminated any charging ports on the device further enhancing the minimal form aesthetic. Dose refilling was a major factor in user experience as well as an important recurring revenue stream for the client. An RFID tag is sent to a subscribed user in order to easily initiate a “refill” in the device electronics giving the user the amount of doses prescribed by his or her doctor.


The streamlined design utilizes a dead-front display, a leading trend in consumer medical products. This display style gives the gammaCore a clean aesthetic appearance that only shows the user necessary information in the use process. The gammaCore’s minimal design aesthetic combined with easy-to-use interaction creates a unique, user-centered device. Details from the in-mold decals used in the molding process to achieve the right look and tactile feel to the inductive charging case designed to eliminate charging ports and improve user experience reinforce it as a high-end product at the front of its field.