Mirion Technologies partnered with THRIVE to design a ground-up mobile companion app for their new-to-market AccuRad Personal Radiation Detector (PRD), capable of establishing a real-time connection between the device and smartphones, serving as the lifeline between on-the-ground first responders and their command centers.

A new entrant in the personal radiation detector category, the disruptive platform far exceeded Mirion’s goal of achieving a 10% market share in its first year, winning 50% of the Department of Homeland Security’s $121 million IDIQ contract with the Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) “Securing the Cities” initiative, as well as onboarding key accounts with the U.S. Capitol Police, The Los Angeles Police Department, and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.

Drive for Disruption.

Mirion Technologies, a global leader in radiation safety and science for over 70 years, is a leading provider of detection, measurement, analysis, and monitoring solutions to the nuclear, defense, and medical industries. Mirion sought to expand its footprint in the radiation safety industry by entering the competitive personal radiation detector category. Mirion understood that disrupting a category starts with the user experience and engaged THRIVE to take a human-centered approach to the digital design of the Accurad mobile application, eschewing Mirion’s long-established technology-led approach.

People First, Technology Second.

Knowing what your customers and end users want is crucial to making your experience design initiatives powerful engines for growth. THRIVE brought the empathetic mindset Mirion needed to enter the category successfully, blending ethnographic and design research techniques to gather the disruptive insights necessary to drive market-winning innovation.

To understand how to deliver meaning and value to First Responders, we set out to understand them in the context of their everyday professional lives, actively involving them as participants in the design process. We spent hours in the field with law enforcement professionals and agencies, patrolling New York City, riding along with Florida’s State Troopers—and interviewing and observing them—to understand their needs, values, and experiences. Storytelling, enactment, and co-creation techniques accelerated the companion app’s digital development, helping us to understand what was relevant to First Responders and where to focus.

Based on this research, ten user stories (Epics) emerged as the critical source of truth for delivering value to the end-user (forming a backlog to work through during design sprints), from learning how to use the PRD effectively to receiving notifications and being aware of the amount of radiation detected to communicating events to command and monitoring centers.

Design for Precision and Clarity.

To be intentional with our development process for the companion app, we made our insights actionable by embodying them in a complete set of product requirements and three Design Principles: Human Touch, Scientific Precision, and Clear Mission. 

First Responders don’t want products with flashy, non-functional ornamentation. They care about intelligibility, how easy it is to understand the data, and how straightforward the product is to use. The design principles created a foundation for our visual and interactive design exploration, resulting in an intelligent, precise, structured, and intuitive design theme we coined “Approachable Clarity.”


Make it Fast and Collaborative.

Operating in two-week development sprints, our process was highly integrated, with THRIVE’s researchers and designers working closely with Mirions leaders and developers as a single, unified team. We moved rapidly, establishing an information architecture and interaction flows with a sharp focus on clarity and simplicity, critical for end users dealing with a high-stakes, high job-induced cognitive load. Iterative rounds of low-fidelity sketching, wireframing, and click-throughs helped us fail fast and explore the technical execution of functions and features, such as setting up remote reach-back communications, alarm thresholds, and modifying settings.

Balance Simplicity with Information Integrity.

Data visualization was the most critical part of the mobile app development process. We explored multiple ways to present complex radiological event data, condensing it into aggregates and summaries to make it more digestible without stripping away mission-critical situational data. It had to be very easy for First Responders to comprehend the information and take the required action at a glance. We adopted a minimalistic approach as our strategy focused on presenting key data points with aesthetic appeal, accuracy, and clarity to enhance the effectiveness of the data communication.

Simple design was the ruling factor; minimal touch and a straightforward, intuitive interface were vital for a user group dealing with split-second decisions and potentially life-threatening scenarios. Visual concepts of the Approachable Clarity design theme focused on clear information presentation, making the data stand out using a high contrast, mainly black-and-white display scheme with easily identifiable and distinctive iconography for alarms using color and shading variations with simple, impactful typography. A nuanced visual hierarchy guides the user’s attention seamlessly to crucial information first, with the primary calls to action highlighted in blue with rounded corners to encourage interaction. Finally, our designers iterated on the visual tone and behaviors of the Approachable Clarity concept, creating prototypes in Figma to interactively demonstrate motion and ensure we were delivering an omnichannel experience that seamlessly integrated the digital and physical worlds of the PRD.

Reducing Complexity Via Education

One of the most significant challenges in designing the companion app was overcoming the adoption barriers. Our contextual research told us that a critical barrier for agencies to switch from an incumbent product to a new device was the training load required to bring First Responders up to speed with the latest technology. Mirion needed to seamlessly onboard organizations and users operating the AccuRad rapidly, ensuring the best level of understanding of the device, its capabilities, and the actions to take in case of an alarm. 

In close collaboration with Mirions experts, we developed interactive training content consisting of fourteen tutorials and videos to train the whole organization, from field monitoring teams to radiation safety authorities and operations management, to communicate seamlessly during a real-world event with the AccuRad App. The step-by-step walkthroughs kept the process simple, taking people along on the user journey and demonstrating how to safely and efficiently localize a radioactive source in different scenarios. An interactive evaluation bookended the training and certification process, with results sent directly to training supervisors via the companion app.

Seamless Design to Development Hand-off

Our agile, three-way collaborative approach (Mirion-THRIVE-Developer) allowed us to work quickly and ensure seamless design, development, and feature integration in the final app design. We provided Mirion’s developers with thorough documentation, including a high-fidelity interactive Figma prototype and a comprehensive set of guidelines and component libraries so they could easily track and follow every single line of logic from screen to screen. While this is standard practice for THRIVE, it helped our Mirion partners zero in on effective design execution, maintain design intent, eliminate any unnecessary back-and-forth in development, and simplify the new product introduction process.

“Thanks to partnering with the THRIVE team, we are an awardee in a $121 million dollar IDIQ contract with the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) program, and that’s just the beginning! THRIVE nailed the First Responder experience to make it discreet, foolproof and easy to use.”

Matthew Maddox, Vice President of Marketing, Mirion Technologies, Inc.

“As a new entrant in the personal radiation detector market, we wanted to bring a disruptive product to market to address the real-world challenges first responders face with radiological threats, and I believe we achieved that with the AccuRad PRD.”

Mike Freed, Chief Operating Officer, Mirion Technologies, Inc.

“The emergency responders and public health officials charged with detecting and dealing with radiation face consistent and shifting threats every day. We understand how difficult this can be and are proud to offer a PRD that is capable of responding to these challenges and that supports efforts to keep our emergency responders and the public safe. ”

Keith Spero, Director of Homeland Security & Military Sales, Mirion Technologies, Inc.