• Prosthetic Hand Provides Real-Time Sense of Feeling

    Sørensen tests sensory feedback in the prosthetic hand. (Courtesy Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)Developing prosthetic limbs that can feel has long been a goal of bionics researchers. Now, in “Restoring Natural Sensory Feedback in Real-Time Bidirectional Hand Prostheses,” a paper published February 5 in the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (Lausanne, Switzerland) have added to recent advances in prosthetics that can convey...
  • 3 Strategies for Making Better Batteries

    Batteries appear to be all the rage in Silicon Valley, with innovators taking note that many batteries still rely on a 20th century lithium-ion cocktail that has only improved incrementally over the decades.While microprocessors have exponentially improved under Moore’s Law, batteries have not increased in capabilities substantially, says Mir Imran, a medical device pioneer and venture capitalist who is CEO of San Jose, CA–based InCube Labs. “I’m always looking for new battery technologies,”...
  • How a Double-Amputee Engineer Developed Cutting-Edge Bionic Limbs

    (courtesy BiOM)Looking like they could have been assembled from spare parts for the latest RoboCop, the most advanced lower-leg prosthetics available today are arguably made by BiOM (Bedford, MA). The company's powered artificial ankle is unlike any other commercially available ankle device. The BiOM Ankle System replaces the function of lost muscle and tendon anatomy, stiffening and powering the prosthetic ankle. The idea is to duplicate, as closely as possible, what the muscles do in a...
  • 3-D Printed Device Allows Users Access to Brainwaves

    You probably don't need to start making a tinfoil hat just yet, but an outfit called OpenBCI recently achieved their $200K Kickstarter goal and now plans to move ahead with their open-source brainwave reader project. So what, you might ask, is OpenBCI? To quote their almost-4000-word Kickstarter pitch, “OpenBCI is a low-cost, programmable, open-source EEG [electroencephalography] platform that gives anybody with a computer access to their brainwaves.”In terms of price point, the device was...
  • 3 Big Challenges for Medical Equipment Makers

    As medical device makers face unprecedented opportunities and challenges created by a rapidly-evolving market, they need to consider the following important issues.1. Materials Compliance and International Regulations Device manufacturers must consider the materials and manufacturing processes that go into their products to ensure that they adhere to various regional and global material compatibility regulations. A couple key regulations include the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive...
  • Who's Afraid of the Big Bad BPA?

    There have been plenty of public health concerns raised in recent years about bisphenol A (BPA)—a common building block for the polycarbonate plastic and epoxy resins that serve as workhorse materials for disposable medical devices.But such concerns should not weigh heavily on device designers, says Len Czuba, president of design firm Czuba Enterprises (Lombard, IL).Yes, there have been issues raised over potential BPA links to cancer and reproductive problems, especially because it has a...
  • Scaffold Improves Heart Cell Growth

    When one's heart is damaged by a heart attack or other injury, it can't heal itself very well. This has prompted researchers at Columbia University (New York, NY) and the University of Minho, Portugal, to look for ways to repair the damage. In “Electrically Conductive Chitosan/Carbon Scaffolds for Cardiac Tissue Engineering,” a paper published on Biomacromolecules, the research team reports the results of experiments in growing neonatal rat heart cells on a matrix of chitosan and carbon...
  • Survey: 2014 Is Telehealth's Year in MedTech

    Remote patient monitoring will be the most important medical device trend of 2014, according to an informal survey of MPMN readers.As of about 3 p.m. Pacific time on Friday, 22 out of 59 respondents voted for remote patient monitoring. Second place went to 3-D printing, with 19 votes.The results of the other categories were as follows: six for reinventing diagnostic devices, five for healthcare IT expansion, three for nanotechnology, and one each for next-gen user interfaces and medical imaging...
  • The Secrets of Harnessing Electricity From a Beating Heart

    It seems pretty logical: Hearts beat, movement is energy, and electricity produced off the movement could power an implantable medical device such a pacemaker.But over the decades, there has never been an energy-harvesting strategy that really met medical device designers’ needs—until now. Enter flexible electronics pioneer John Rogers, PhD, of the University of Illinois-Champaign with a super-thin silicone-encased, bendable energy harvester that can be affixed to a beating heart.Rogers and...
  • How I Developed a Device to Treat My Cystic Fibrosis

    Although I am not quite sure how it happened, I have become known as a medical device inventor. I am not an engineer or a physician, and though I’m increasingly referred to as a "biohacker" by the media, I have no idea what the term means.I invented my first device when I was a seven-year-old. Growing up on a farm, one of my chores was to shell peas, and, impatient to get back to the fun of being a kid in the country, I invented a machine to shell those peas faster. Too fast as it turned out,...
  • Getting an Edge on Super-Robust Surgical Blades

    Hutchinson Technology has counted super-precise photochemical etching as a core technology in its evolution over the decades into a $250 million-a-year maker of computer disk suspensions.Now Hutchinson (Hutchinson, MN) is preparing to use the same technology to produce thousands of tiny stainless-steel surgical blades less than an inch in length, about the same size as the disk suspensions that have been Hutchinson’s bread and butter.          An undisclosed major...
  • Cancer-Fighting Nanobot Announced

    Korean researchers have developed nanobots that can detect and attack cancer cells, potentially providing a safer and more effective treatment than chemotherapy. While the idea behind cancer-fighting nanobots is not new, the scientists claim their nanorobots are the world's first to demonstrate capability when it comes to targeting and attacking cancer cells in the lab.The efficacy of the technology has been demonstrated in in vitro studies and on mice. The researchers are confident that...
  • Not Like Your Dad's MedTech Suppliers

    Mark Bonifacio will be discussing medical device contract manufacturing challenges on Tuesday, February 11, at MD&M West in Anaheim, CA.Take a look at the typical contract manufacturing firm now versus 10 years ago, and it is likely bigger and with many more capabilities, says Mark Bonifacio, principal and owner of Bonifacio Consulting Services (Natick, MA).The large medical device manufacturers, seeking to save money by shrinking their supply chains, simply require it. Hopefully...
  • MedTechs Tackle Replacing 'Workhorse' Plasticizer

    Suitable for medical device applications, Teknor Apex's Medalist MD-500-series non-PVC compounds are DEHP-free.The jury is still out over whether phthalate plasticizers such as DEHP really cause health problems in humans, according to Peter M. Galland of Teknor Apex. But publics and governments in the U.S. and Europe have become convinced enough that medical device companies will have to find replacements for them anyway.Confronting growing evidence that exposure to...
  • Nanopatch Could Revolutionize Vaccine Delivery

    Imagine a device that could be used to administer vaccines without the need for a needle.Mark Kendall, PhD, lecturer at the University of Queensland, Australia, has developed such a system. Known as the Nanopatch drug delivery system, the technology is revealed in a lecture video in which Kendall describes the advantages of the system and also how it is used. Employing a spring-loaded applicator, he applies a Nanopatch to the inside of his wrist.First described in a paper published in the...
  • A Search Engine Medical Device Designers Should Fear

    Shodan, “The scariest search engine on the Internet,” according to CNN Money, is a search engine scouring the Internet looking for servers, webcams, printers, medical devices, and all the other devices connected to and making up the Internet of Things. Searches on Shodan provide a stunning amount of information. Would-be hackers find critical systems to attack. They conduct searches by city or GPS coordinates, and discover detailed information on devices and their vulnerabilities. The...
  • How Microtechnology Is Driving Advances in MedTech

    Biodegradable implants and antimicrobial coatings are but some of the results of the medical device materials innovations taking place at sizes that are less than a millionth or a billionth of a meter.That is one of the major takeaways from Thomas Dietrich, PhD, CEO of the IVAM Microtechnology Network (Dortmund, Germany). The organization makes it its business to stay on the cutting edge of advances in microtechnology (involving less than one micrometer), nanotechnology (involving...
  • Keeping an Eye on Google's Glucose-Reading Contact Lenses

    Google has received plenty of attention with its announcement that it is developing a glucose-monitoring contact lens. But other researchers have also seen contact lenses as an enabling technology for finding glucose in tears and doing away with or reducing the need for diabetics to prick themselves with needles.University of Pittsburgh chemistry professor Sanford Asher, for example, has developed three-dimensional photonic crystals that allowed for contact lenses with a dot that changed color...
  • Google Focuses on Diabetes Care

    Google has announced its plans to develop a contact lens that could help diabetics keep track of their blood glucose levels. Spearheaded by Babak Parviz of Google Glass fame, the project could reduce or perhaps even eliminate the need for diabetics to prick their finger to manage their diabetes.“At Google[x], we wondered if miniaturized electronics—think: chips and sensors so small they look like bits of glitter, and an antenna thinner than a human hair—might be a way to crack the...
  • Stent Designers Think Zinc

    The most advanced absorbable stents available today are made from polylactic acid (PLLA). Based on nearly five years of clinical trial data, for example, Abbott Vascular’s bioresorbable Absorb scaffold compares favorably to the company’s metal-based XIENCE stent, the current industry standard for nonabsorbable drug-eluting stents.But what about absorbable metal stents? Based on magnesium, current state-of-the-art absorbable metal stents could eventually give bioresorbable polymeric stents a run...