Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 34

Wearable Accelerometer Could Reduce Falls for Seniors
Wearable
light-touch
device
Force estimation
Japanese researchers have developed
and tested a prototype device - wearable
on the fingertips - that incorporates
the concept of light touch to
enhance the sense of balance. If widely
implemented, the device should significantly
reduce incidence of falls amongst
seniors. The findings are published in
the journal Scientific Reports.
As we age, our sense of balance can
become impaired. The resulting increase
in postural sway in turn increases the risk
of falls and consequent injuries. Meanwhile,
older people make up a large and
increasing proportion of the population
in highly developed countries. This
makes efforts to reduce the effects of postural
sway ever more imperative.
Aids such as canes and walking frames
help a great deal, but research suggests
their use or misuse in certain circumstances
such as on stairs or stepping into
or out of vehicles can actually exacerbate
the problem with sense of balance
and increase the risk of injury.
To address the challenge of human balance
in the elderly, in recent years a great
deal of research has focussed on the phenomenon
known as light touch. Even with
eyes closed, a subject that lightly touches a
curtain or piece of paper draped in front
Vibrotactile feedback
Overview of the proposed wearable light-touch
device for human balance support.
of them with just their fingertips is given
enough of a stimulus cue to reduce their
swaying. This happens even though a curtain
or piece of paper cannot deliver any
postural support in the way that a cane or
walking frame can. Researchers with
Yokohama National University (YNU) and
the Prefectural University of Hiroshima
wanted to test a way to create a virtual light
touch (VLT) system to achieve the same
result - in effect creating a virtual curtain.
The first step was a basic VLT system
that incorporated a small device that fits
over a fingertip of a subject - much like
wearing a thimble - and delivers a vibrotactile
nudge when they begin to sway.
Assessment of swaying in this first attempt
at a VLT was performed by a 3D motion
capture system akin to what is used by special
effects professionals in the movie
industry. Initial tests on subjects with this
proof-of-concept system showed results
equivalent to the use of a physical curtain.
" The use of such a large and complex
motion capture system is no more practical
in daily life than a curtain, " says
Worn on the fingertips
like a thimble, it helps
reduce postural sway.
Yokohama National University
Yokohama, Japan
Keisuke Shima, associate professor at
faculty of engineering of YNU and lead
author of the study.
" But the tests on live subjects showed
that the concept worked, " adds YNU
researcher Mami Sakata, a co-author of
the paper. " The next step was to transform
the VLT into a system that could be
used in everyday life. "
The researchers swapped out the
motion capture system for an accelerometer
- an electromechanical device that
measures acceleration forces - similar
to what is found in most smartphones.
The vibrotactile nudges were still delivered
by the vibrotactile thimble device.
The accelerometer-and-vibrotactilethimble
VLT system was then tested on
150 volunteers ranging in age from their
sixties to their nineties and again found
that postural sway was reduced as significantly
as a physical curtain.
The acceleration-based VLT setup is
immediately practical as a balance aid in
everyday life. It involves a simple, lightweight
and compact sensor and motor.
It should enjoy widespread adoption
amongst elderly people.
However, the researchers want to
improve their system further by making
the device even more lightweight and
compact, and to enhance its reduction
of postural sway. For this latter enhancement,
they will need to explore precisely
how the still poorly understood lighttouch
effect works to support human
balance.
For more information, visit www.ynu.
ac.jp.
Portable COVID Test Delivers Fast, Accurate Results
The single-chip system is a
complete functioning
electronic circuit.
University of Illinois
Champaign, IL
A new coronavirus test can get accurate
results from a saliva sample in less than 30
minutes, researchers report in the journal
Nature Communications. Many of the components
of the handheld device used in
this technology can be 3D printed, and
34
Intro
Cov
the test can detect as little as one viral particle
per 1-µL drop of fluid.
" We developed a rapid, highly sensitive
and accurate assay, and a portable, batterypowered
device for COVID-19 testing that
can be used anywhere at any time, " says
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
chemical and biomolecular engineering
professor Huimin Zhao, who led the
research. Though it is still in the prototype
stage, the device is estimated to cost less
than $78 and the reagents and other materials
needed for testing would amount to
$6-$7 per test, the researchers found.
www.medicaldesignbriefs.com
ToC
+
-
A
Current coronavirus testing technologies
are complex, expensive, time-consuming
and require bulky equipment
and expert analysts, whereas the new
device can be operated by anyone with
minimal training who is careful when
loading samples, Zhao says.
The innovation was made possible by
the recent discovery in Zhao's laboratory
of a system for making artificial restriction
enzymes that can be programmed
to recognize and cleave specific genes in
an organism's genome. In the new
device, these enzymes carry DNA guides
Medical Design Briefs, July 2021
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Medical Design Briefs - July 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Medical Design Briefs - July 2021

Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - Intro
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - Cov4
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - Cov1
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - Cov2
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 1
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 2
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 3
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 4
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 5
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 6
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 7
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 8
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 9
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 10
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 11
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 12
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 13
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 14
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 15
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 16
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 17
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 18
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 19
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 20
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 21
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 22
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Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 24
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 25
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 26
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 27
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 28
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 29
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 30
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 31
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 32
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 33
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 34
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 35
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 36
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 37
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 38
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 39
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - 40
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - Cov3
Medical Design Briefs - July 2021 - Cov4a
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