• New Prosthetic Hand Provides Wearer with a Sense of Touch

    A newly developed artificial hand and its neural interface convey touch information to the wearer. The device, which includes 20 touch sensors, was recently demonstrated by a research team with members from Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Veterans Affairs Medical Center. A video (embedded below) shows a 48-year-old Ohio man using this prosthetic hand to pick up cherries and remove the stems without crushing the fruits.Spearheaded by Dustin Tyler, PhD, of Case's Department of...
  • Creating Bone with 3-D Printing and Hydrogel Scaffolds

    Two groups of researchers are working to create bone using considerably different strategies.One of those groups, headed up by Kevin Shakeshaff, a professor at the University of Nottingham, is endeavoring to use 3-D printing to crate accurate bone replacements that using cells harvested from the target patient.To accomplish that feat, Shakeshaff uses a printer to create a scaffold in the desired bone geometry that is later coated with stem cells.A similar scaffold-based approach has been used...
  • Top Medtech Stories of 2013

    Qmed rounds up the stories that attracted the most attention this year. Stories in the list describe everything from layoffs to a mechanic who became a medical device innovator.Three Medical Device Manufacturers with the Highest Profit Margins. Medical device manufacturers that have significant marketing, manufacturing, or regulatory benefits are often able to dominate the industry. Over the last year, three companies have stood out from the competition for their strong performance, two of...
  • Eric Topol on How to Prevent Heart Attacks with Nanosensors

    Scripps Health (San Diego) chief academic officer Eric Topol, MD is heavily involved in many of the enabling technologies such as wireless sensors, nanotechnology, and consumer-powered and consumer-inspired technologies that are set to transform the medical device field in coming years.Talk to Topol, a practicing cardiologist who is one of the most-frequently cited medical researchers, and it isn’t hard to picture a future when some of the traditional medical devices so lauded today will play a...
  • Putting the Science in the Molding

    Molding is prevalent throughout the medical device industry. But to achieve consistency and repeatability in the fabrication of molded components and devices, some manufacturers prefer to employ scientific molding. In the following conversation, Jeff Randall, vice president of engineering, and Brunson Parish, senior process engineer at MRPC (Butler, WI), share their thoughts about how to take the guesswork out of molding.MPMN: What is scientific molding and how does it differ from conventional...
  • Getting the Most Out of Product Development and Contract Manufacturing

    A medical device company can be well-served when medical device engineers start out the gate with agreed-upon product requirements that have a minimal chance of changing down the road, says Chris Devlin, senior director, research and development at Microline Surgical. Product requirements are not a trifling matter; they can make or break a product or even a company, Devlin explained last week during BIOMEDevice San Jose To that end, R&D engineers should collaborate with the company’s...
  • How a Dad Designed a Power Wheelchair for His Son

    A Chicago man has successfully modified a power wheelchair so that his mostly incapacitated toddler can actually use it—with his feet.Shea Kanani Ako’s 2-year-old boy Alejandro suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, a genetic defect in that kills neurons in a person’s spinal cord anterior horn and causes muscular atrophy across the body and an inability to move or breathe on one's own, according to reports in Hack a Day and Hawaii News Now. (Shea is an O'ahu native.)Blue Cross Blue Shield...
  • The Basics on Making Sure Medical Device Materials Are Safe

    Thor Rollins frets about things that most average people, even most average medical device professionals, don't think about: “Some people don’t understand that there is a difference between extractables and leachables,” says Rollins, a biocompatibility specialist at Nelson Laboratories.“Extractables are chemicals that can come off your device under exaggerated conditions,” Rollins explained during a Wednesday talk in the Tech Theater at BIOMEDevice San Jose. “Leachables are compounds...
  • 5 Ways Medtech Firms Can Ensure Quality

    High-quality medical devices are a result of systematic planning, skilled multifunctional resources and a culture of quality — in other words, money—but the consequences of poor quality are much more expensive, says Vipul Sheth, vice president of quality, coronary cardiovascular at Medtronic.Speaking Wednesday at BIOMEDevice San Jose, Sheth lamented that few actually want to spend large sums of money to ensure quality.“But while quality may not be free, poor quality is way more expensive...
  • A CIA-Inspired Approach to Medical Device Cybersecurity

    Cybersecurity is emerging as a key consideration for medical device engineers. The growing number of medical devices with wireless functionality is contributing to the trend, leading to real risks to patients’ well being safety and privacy, explained Mike Ahmadi, CISSP, global director, medical security at Codenomicon at BIOMEDevice San Jose.Ahmadi illustrated those risks by using the CIA triad of confidentiality, integrity, and availability.Confidentiality. In this security model,...
  • How Usability Testing Prevents Horror Stories

    Strangled babies and irradiated patients provide some recent examples of why medical device designers cannot assume their products will be used the way they think they are going to be used, says Edith Folger, senior software quality engineer at Boston Scientific.Folger, speaking Tuesday at BIOMEDevice San Jose, recounted Angelcare Monitors Inc.'s recent recall of 600,000 baby monitors after two reports of infants who grabbed the power cord of the device, wound it around their...
  • What Qualcomm Has in Common with Google and Microsoft

    The information technology world was dominated by Microsoft, then Google, and perhaps Apple or Facebook or something else next. So is Qualcomm trying to do the same with healthcare—an industry worth $6.5 trillion, according to an estimate from the Emergo Group?There seemed to be a great deal of talk on Tuesday of Qualcomm taking over the nuts and bolts of the digital health revolution during a presentation by Qualcomm Life’s senior vice president Rick Valencia.Speaking in the Wireless Medical...
  • Fogarty at Top of Medical Device Innovation Pantheon

    Balloon catheter innovator Thomas Fogarty, MD, is handily winning an informal Qmed poll that asked readers to pick the top innovator in the medical device industry. As of Wednesday, Fogarty had 14 out of 42 votes cast, followed by Medtronic founder and pacemaker innovator Earl Bakken, who came in second with 10 votes. Behind him with six votes was Alfred Mann, a physicist who has worked in the medical device space for decades. All three can definitely be counted among the medical...
  • Path to Better Hip Implants Outlined in Proposed Standard

    A Pennsylvania company thinks more research standards are in order to correct the metal-on-metal hip implant problems that have caused medical device companies so much trouble in recent years.Ever since its recall in August 2010, DePuy’s articular surface replacement (ASR) metal-on-metal hip implant has been grabbing headlines. An internal groove in the cup, designed to provide space for surgeons to insert a tool to position the implant within the patient’s hip, limited the cup’s surface area....
  • 3-D Printing Revolution Expands to Batteries

    The 3-D printing process has more potential than ever to transform medical device manufacturing, now that researchers have figured out how to 3-D print miniature batteries.Researchers based at Harvard University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created and tested materials, or “inks,” able to function as electrochemically active materials. The materials also had to harden into layers in just the right way so they could be stacked up in layers during the 3-D printing—...
  • Apple's Latest Acquisition Could Be Medtech Game Changer

    Recently acquired 3-D sensing technology could make computing giant Apple an even more disruptive force when it comes to healthcare technology.Purchased by Apple for a reported $350 million, PrimeSense has technology that can capture the nuances of a 3-D environment, and is so accurate that it can detect the pulse of people positioned in front of it.The motion sensor company is best known for its work with Microsoft in developing the Kinect system, which enables users to control the gaming...
  • 2-D Tin Could Be Next Transformative Supermaterial

    Graphene, the most buzz-worthy supermaterial of the past decade, may have some new competition.Physicists at Stanford University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory think there is potential to produce a material known as "stanene" that might operate at 100% efficiency at room temperature. This essentially means that the material could avoid converting any energy to heat.In the Physical Review Letters, the researchers explain...
  • Getting Designers and Clinicians to Work Together on Medical Devices

    Medical device engineers at Cincinnati-based Kaleidoscope have been living the dream for the past year through a partnership with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.Developers have occupied space amid the offices of the roughly 22 pediatric surgeons at Children’s, collaborating closely with the doctors and others at the hospital to come up with device ideas and create them.The initial focus has been with pediatric surgeons, but will soon spread to other groups at the hospital....
  • Glasses That Let Nurses Get Under Your Skin

    A Silicon Valley company called Evena Medical is betting that smart glasses will help nurses when it comes to the classic problem of finding a vein in an obese or elderly patient’s arm.A nurse can put on Evena’s Eyes-On Glasses System and clearly see the veins underneath the skin. The recently unveiled glasses are but another example of “smart glasses” such as Google Glass potentially changing the way health practitioners perform their jobs.The next question is whether the hospital...
  • How a Nanotechnology Platform Could Let Diabetics Skip Insulin Injections

    A small ultrasound device could painlessly deliver insulin, potentially giving type-1 diabetics an alternative to giving themselves several insulin injections daily. Developed by researchers at NC State and UNC-Chapel Hill, the technology uses nanoparticles made from poly(lactic-co-glycolic) acid that contain insulin within them.The scientists coaxed the particles to form a “nano-network” that helps control the release of insulin. They accomplished this feat by coating a portion of the...