Exciting innovations in health care

Wednesday, 04 August, 2021

Exciting innovations in health care

We take a look at some of the exciting developments happening in the medical device space.

Robotic surgical assistant

The ROSA Knee System is a robotic surgical assistant that enables surgeons to carry out knee replacement procedures with greater precision and a higher standard of care. The system produces data to help optimise patient outcomes.

Designed by surgeons for surgeons, Zimmer Biomet’s ROSA Knee was awarded the Orthopaedic Product Innovation of the Year at the 2021 Healthcare Asia Medtech Awards.

“We are excited to win the Orthopaedic Product Innovation of the Year award and extremely proud of all the good work that our ROSA team has done to bring the ROSA Knee, a unique and holistic robotic solution, to Zimmer Biomet’s suite of integrated digital and robotic technologies,” Zimmer Biomet Asia Pacific Group President Sang Yi said. “We see this award as further validation of ROSA Knee integrating robotics technology with our industry-leading knee implants to help surgeons personalise surgical procedures for their patients.”

Artificial heart technology

Monash University and BiVACOR are leading a consortium of universities, hospitals and industry to develop and commercialise the world’s first durable total artificial heart.

With $1 million in federal government funding via the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), the Artificial Heart Frontiers Program will develop and commercialise new devices through the use of novel, innovative technology. The BiVACOR Total Artificial Heart is an implantable total artificial heart based on rotary blood pump technology. Similar in size to an adult fist, it is small enough to be implanted in many women and some children, and is capable of providing enough cardiac output to an adult male undergoing exercise.

The heart’s design incorporates magnetic levitation (MAGLEV) technology — the same principle used in high-speed trains — and includes left and right vanes positioned on a common rotor to form the only moving part, a magnetically suspended double-sided centrifugal impeller.

Printable ‘artificial retina’

University of Sydney researcher Dr Matthew Griffith is developing a printable device that acts like a retina. The electrical device is made from multicoloured carbon-based semiconductors, using absorbed light to fire the neurons that transmit signals from the eyes to the brain.

Dr Griffith's low-cost, printed device. Credit: University of Sydney

The device can be printed using the same, low-cost method as newspaper printing, with a high-speed roll-to-roll press. It is intended that the device will be printed onto soft and flexible surfaces from water-based inks that contain nerve growth factors and then inserted into a patient’s retina by a surgeon.

Dr Matthew Griffith researches within the Australian Centre for Microscopy and Analysis, which is led by Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research – Enterprise and Engagement), Professor Julie Cairney. Credit: University of Sydney

Dr Griffith hopes to ultimately apply this technology, a type of neural interface, to restore sensory function to those with spinal cord injuries, and to treat people with neurodegenerative diseases.

Talk with Ted

Talk with Ted is an online learning module from Dementia Australia’s Centre for Dementia Learning, developed with Deakin University’s Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute.

Ted is an avatar with artificial intelligence — he has the symptoms of dementia and his behaviour and mood changes are based on real-life situations. Learners can Talk with Ted to:

  • improve communication skills, and increase confidence, skills and knowledge when supporting people with dementia;
  • practise talking with someone who has dementia symptoms in a safe and realistic environment, via simulated scenarios;
  • recall what has been learnt and apply new skills into practice.

Talk with Ted was the winner of the 2020 Victorian iAward in the Not-For-Profit and Community Solution of the Year category, awarded jointly to Dementia Australia and Deakin University's Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute.

Metallic antiviral face mask

Australian materials technology company Xefco has developed a patent-pending antiviral textile technology, MetalliX, reported to be the world’s first thin-film antiviral copper treatment for textiles.

With testing and development support from Deakin’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM), Xefco’s technology will be incorporated into HeiQ Materials’ medical-grade face masks.

HeiQ’s MetalliQ mask contains an ultra-thin pure copper coating applied via a high-tech vapour deposition process, which converts a minute amount of copper into vapour, allowing it to be deposited evenly to surround each fibre.

Independent studies conducted by the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute) showed that materials treated with MetalliX inactivate SARS-CoV-2 in as little as five minutes.

Sunsafe with Sunwatch

Dr Noushin Nasiri, Head of the Nanotechnology Laboratory at Macquarie’s School of Engineering, has developed a wearable device that can detect harmful ultraviolet rays and give personalised sun safety alerts to wearers.

“The Sunwatch gives you personalised and precise advice for your skin type,” Dr Nasiri said.

The Sunwatch is easy to use, Dr Nasiri explained. The wearer enters their skin type into the device, which measures UV rays and then suggests actions on an LCD screen. Advice includes ‘put on sunnies’ or ‘wear a broad-brimmed hat’ or ‘go in the shade’.

A prototype of the Sunwatch. Dr Nasiri said it’s smart, accurate and reliable, and in a country such as Australia, it could be a lifesaver.

AI solutions for the blind

Melbourne-based technology developer RealThing Ai has developed a unique human dialogue and intelligent reasoning product, called RealSAM, for people living with low vision and blindness. It is delivered exclusively through voice activation and used to control everyday technology such as mobile phones and smart speakers.

RealThing has been awarded $1m of funding by the Australian Government to accelerate the development of its technology.

The RealSAM platform and voice interface has changed the lives of vision-impaired users around the world. The funding will be
used to further develop the solution and install the AI onto a mobile phone, so it can operate untethered to the internet.

Medical-grade smartphone monitoring tool

Emyria’s medical-grade monitoring tool can capture vital signs such as heart rate, heart rate variability and atrial fibrillation using only a smartphone camera. The application runs on Apple and Android phones, opening up opportunities to remotely capture objective health data.

Allowing clinical teams to remotely monitor safety and efficacy data in trial participants, Emyria plans to use the tool’s capability in its upcoming drug development programs.

Emyria has received a Class IIa ‘software-as-a-medical-device’ registration with the Therapeutic Goods Administration. The application has potential in a variety of medical and consumer health monitoring settings where medical-grade remote monitoring can improve the care of patients with complex needs.

Smartphone camera home cardiovascular monitoring application software.

Main image caption: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Gorodenkoff

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