I’ve noticed that a number of new medical products that have recently come out are employing a significant amount of black as the color for trim components and accents, and in some cases for the majority of the housing itself. From a patient’s perspective, this is not a good thing. Black is a good color for providing an aesthetic that suggest “high tech” (which is why I suspect it is being used). It projects sophistication, elegance, and precision. But in a medical environment, the use of black puts patients psychologically ill at ease. Symbolically, it is the color of death.

If you pay attention to a hospital environment, you’ll notice a lot of equipment is designed using soft, pastel colors, mostly greens and blues, maybe light greys. This is because those colors are calming to patients. The designers responsible for those designs knew what they were doing. I fear that designers familiar more with the consumer product space are moving into medical device design, and are not adapting their consumer-based approach to the needs of the health care environment.

If you were being admitted for a serious surgical procedure, which of these would you rather see coming down the hall at you?:

black ultrasoundblue ultrasound