Each week PSFK.com with its partner Boehringer Ingelheim bring you a snapshot of Five Innovative Ideas that are reshaping the health care industry. This week’s innovations include wearable tech for babies and a new procedure for eye surgery using magnet-controlled nanobots.
Diaper Alerts Parents To Babies’ Infections
New York startup Pixie Scientific have developed Smart Diapers, a digital disposable diaper that analyzes a baby’s urine to check for health conditions. The smart diaper has a small patch on the front which contain reagents that have different chemical reactions with urine, interacting with the protein in the sample. Should the levels be abnormal, the color on the patches will change. At the end of each diaper use, a parent uses his or her smartphone to take a picture of the QR-like patch. The accompanying app then analyzes the patches to determine whether the baby has a UTI, if the kidneys are healthy, whether s/he is dehydrated, it can even detect Type 1 diabetes. The app will recommend whether the child needs to be taken in to see a physician, creating a simple and intuitive first line of defense for parents in monitoring the health of their children.
Bionic Leg Helps Patients Recover Their Mobility
The Bionic Leg, from medical device manufacturer AlterG, is the first wearable, mobile robotic exoskeleton for lower physical therapy. The device is a motorized leg attachment, which allows patients to use their leg as they did before they were injured, and greatly assist in the rehabilitation process. The Bionic Leg provides motorized assistance with extension (straightening), and flexion (bending), and can support up to 50% of the patient’s body weight. It enables patients to move with a full range of motion as they would before their injury, without having to rely upon upper body assistance such as canes or crutches.
Magnet Controlled Nanobots Could Change Eye Surgery Forever
A new nanobot, designed by scientists at the Institute of Robotics and Intelligent Systems in Zurich, for minor eye surgery could have the potential to change the way we perform non-invasive surgeries — and make eye surgery safer at the same time. The robot contains no power source, nor means of locomotion; it’s simply a metal rod with a retractable needle, which moves solely with the help of magnets. The setup is essentially a network of strong, focused electromagnets placed all around a patient’s head, which work together to move the needle-bot with extreme precision. By injecting a robot with such a tiny footprint, this could make previously difficult procedures relatively non-invasive.
Tiny Sensor Detects Trace Amounts Of Bacteria
Researchers at EPFL, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, have developed a lever the width of a human hair that vibrates when it senses bacteria’s tiniest metabolic movements. The matchbox-sized nanosensor can scan for the presence of bacteria and tell if an antibiotic is effective within a few minutes, rather than the days or weeks that conventional testing methods require. The vibrations are measured via a laser that reflects off the lever, turning them into an electrical current that can be read by a doctor like an EKG. When the signal flattens, it means the bacteria are dead. The sensor could be used to monitor treatments of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, especially those that are slow to grow and take a long time to test with conventional methods–which involve culturing the bacteria in the lab. The researchers also suggest the technique could one day be applied to cancer treatment, to measure tumor cells in place of bacteria.
Wearable Computer Provides A Second Set Of Eyes
The OrCam is a small camera linked to a powerful wearable computer, which sees what a wearer sees, and through finger-pointing understands what information they seek, relaying auditory feedback through a bone conduction earpiece. Using an intuitive user interface, the device can read text, recognize faces, identify objects and places, locate bus numbers and even monitor traffic lights. The system incorporates a bone conduction earpiece which conveys text-to-speech output, or descriptions of the object pointed at by the wearer. OrCam was primarily designed for the visually impaired, however it may well prove beneficial to people with dyslexia or memory loss as well.
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