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The medical devices of the future

FAU students have developed a prototype for a portable, battery-operated breathing device for sleep apnoea patients that only weighs 200 grams. (Image: FAU/Piecha)

Students and start-ups present their projects at FAU's Innovation Research Lab

FAU’s Innovation Research Lab (IRL) offer students at the University a creative environment where they can develop ideas and concepts. At the IRL Exhibition, which took place on Thursday 14 July, students from all over the world took part in a competition in which they presented their projects on topics in medical technology and product design. This year 40 teams from 20 universities from all over the globe took part.

IRL – an initiative run in collaboration with Siemens Healthineers and led by Sultan Haider, founder and director of the Innovation Think Tank at Siemens Healthineers – offers students from all subjects lectures and practical tutorials on the topics of innovation management and interdisciplinary innovation in medical technology and product design. IRL is managed by an interdisciplinary core team. The young researchers involved in the initiative investigate technical problems and topics that involve technology, production, marketing, usability and public acceptance, such as prosthetics or measuring blood sugar using a smart phone.

Once a year IRL invites students from all over the world to present their ideas in the field of medical technology at the IRL Exhibition (IRLE). The winning team receives 3000 euros in prize money. 40 projects qualified for this year’s exhibition. The teams came from 8 different countries – Germany, the USA, Portugal, India, China, Turkey, Brazil and Switzerland – and 20 different universities, including the USA’s renowned John Hopkins University.

Sleep apnoea and hand prostheses

Breathing device prototype (image: FAU/Piecha)

The breathing therapy device is designed to replace standard devices that are loud, bulky, uncomfortable and not easily transportable. The prototype was presented at the FAU Innovation Research Lab 2016. (Image: FAU/Piecha)

The students’ projects focus on practical problems. For example, one concept presented by FAU students aims to help people who suffer from sleep apnoea, a sleep disorder characterised by pauses in breathing. If it remains untreated, the condition can cause cardiovascular disorders or high blood pressure. Patents are often treated with breathing therapy devices that they wear during sleep. These devices have many disadvantages: they are loud, bulky, uncomfortable – and not easily transportable. In order to overcome these issues, FAU students Patrick Öchsner, Julia Böttcher, Christin Glindemann and Philipp Seegerer are working on a portable, battery-operated breathing therapy device that only weighs 200 grams.

Another team of FAU students is carrying out a project that aims to improve prosthetics for people who have had a hand amputated. While standard prostheses only allow simple movements to be carried out – opening and closing – multi-finger prostheses make it possible to move individual fingers. Although multi-finger prostheses enable more precise mechanical movements to be carried out, most patients prefer the first, less expensive type of prostheses, as they allow the hand to be controlled intuitively. A significant amount of training is required to learn how to use a multi-finger prosthesis. FAU student Carla Viegas researched how multi-finger prosthesis technology can be improved for her Master’s thesis. She developed an armband with a touch sensor that uses an algorithm to identify different hand and joint movements, making multi-finger prostheses more intuitive to use.

Various start-ups were presented at the exhibition – proof that the ideas are not simply theoretical. The founders developed the concepts for these companies in the Innovation Research Lab and are now applying them in practice. One of the start-ups makes innovative ideas visual in a way that everyone can understand, while another specialises in product design and rapid prototyping, i.e. 3D printing.

More information on IRL is available at www.zimt.fau.de/innovation-research-lab.

Further information:

Sebastian Schroth
Phone: +49 9131 8526861

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