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Award-Winning Medical Device Innovation at Battelle

Challenge 

Each year, MD+DI invites innovators, entrepreneurs, students and the broader healthcare community to submit ideas for the medical device of their dreams. The “Dare to Dream” contest asks entrants to envision a new medical device uninhibited by financial or regulatory concerns. The goal is to spur bold, innovative ideas that will push the industry to rethink what is possible in the medical device realm. Entries are judged on creativity and design, market viability and their potential impact on healthcare. 

Solution

In 2013, 2014 and 2015 Battelle developed three very different medical device concepts designed to push the boundaries of current technology. The team interviewed healthcare professionals to better understand the challenges and developed potential technology solutions. By leveraging subject matter experts across Battelle, they also ensured that the potential solutions would be technically feasible.  

UV Fiberoptic Hospital Bed (2015)

This high-tech hospital bed uses shortwave ultraviolet light (UV-C) to provide effective 360-degree sterilization of the bed and room between patients. The goal is to reduce the incidence of hospital-acquired infections while also reducing the workload for hospital personnel. The bed is composed of a polymer frame coated with an antimicrobial, super-hydrophobic polyurethane coating, which reduces bacterial adhesion, promotes rapid beading of water on the bed frame, and makes cleaning easier for hospital staff. UV-C lights are integrated into the frame and into fiber optic woven materials for soft components such as mattresses. When the lights are turned on remotely, the entire bed emits UV-C light that provides effective sterilization for all bed components and for the surrounding room. This enables more complete sterilization of surfaces with complex geometries with much less work by hospital staff. 

graphic rendering of a UV self-disinfecting hospital bed

Conformal Electronic “Smart Suit” (2014)

Designed to help seniors retain strength for successful aging in place, the Smart Suit is a responsive garment that will improve muscle tone, strength and balance when it is worn. Conformal electronics are woven into the fabric of the material. When these electronics are activated, the suit stiffens to provide gentle resistance similar to the resistance encountered during movement through water. The operation of the electronics allows resistance to be controlled and targeted to different muscle groups. The garment is constructed from stimuli-responsive composite fabric with piezoelectric and thermal-mechanical properties. It is able to adapt to the user’s unique body type to accommodate users of different sizes, ages, physical abilities and fitness levels. It can even be worn under clothing to provide added resistance during regular daily activities. The Smart Suit could improve the health of a wide range of users, including elderly individuals who need to improve strength and balance to maintain independence. It could also be used for targeted physical therapy, during training by performance athletes or to improve fitness levels for military personnel.

concept drawing of Battelle's Smart Suit

At-Home Pediatric Diagnostics (2013)

The goal of this entry was to find a way to reduce the number of pediatrician and ER visits for low-level, common childhood illnesses. The envisioned diagnostic device allows parents or other caregivers to perform a guided pediatric ear exam at home and communicate the results with pediatricians. The device is equipped with sensors and cameras to take tympanometry readings, photographic images and temperature. While the exam takes place, it entertains the child with soothing animations. Once readings are taken, they can be sent via a connected smart phone app or computer to the pediatrician or to a central diagnostic center for a medical diagnosis. If the clinician determines that the results are positive for an ear infection, a prescription for antibiotics can be sent to the preferred pharmacy indicated in the app. 

graphic showing how our at-home pediatric diagnostics work

Outcome 

The Conformational Electronic “Smart Suit” won the Dare to Dream competition in 2014. The At-Home Pediatric Diagnostics device and UV Fiberoptic Hospital Bed were each named Top Ten finalists for the years they were submitted.