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Defibrillator Design Challenge

Three designs highlighting defibrillators on walls incorporating an EKG line, a man's torso with shirt pulled open to reveal AED, and a stylized heart with blood spatter

Defibrillator Design Challenge

Promoting the use of life-saving devices through artwork

Project status

Pilot/study with results


Austin Kilaru, MD, MSHP 

Allison Sellers  

Penn School of Design

Innovation leads


Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, University of Pennsylvania





External partners

Amtrak 30th Street Station 

American Heart Association 


Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is a major public health problem that affects an estimated 400,000 people in the United States every year. Applying an automated external defibrillator (AED) to patients who have experienced cardiac arrest can save lives. However, little is known about where these devices are located and how to find them. 


To increase awareness and enhance the visibility of AEDs in public spaces, we launched the Defibrillator Design Challenge in 2014. The public was invited to create, submit, and vote on virtual designs for eye-catching AED artwork on Facebook or Twitter. 


Over eight weeks, 119 designs were submitted by participants from across the country. More than 2,000 individuals cast votes in favor of their favorite artwork, and the designs were shared more than 48,000 times on Facebook and Twitter. In the end, five contest winners were chosen.  

The Defibrillator Design Challenge proved the feasibility of using crowdsourcing to promote awareness about AEDs and their locations. It also provides a framework for using design and contest architecture to promote important health messages.