A student has used piezo-electric technology originally developed for European satellites to power a novel wristwatch insulin pump for people with type 1 diabetes.
Dubbed 'COR', the insulin pump was devised by Nicole Schmiedel, an industrial student at the Braunschweig University of Arts in Germany. The prototype recently won one of the three Design and Technology Student Awards at this year's Materialica trade fair in Munich, Germany.
Inside 'COR', a piezo-electric transducer absorbs the energy of even the slightest movement of the person who wears it and converts it into electricity to drive the insulin pump.
The transducer is based on those developed for space programmes where they are used in micro-positioning and vibration damping of optics embedded on satellites, such as those incorporated in the MIDAS instrument onboard the European Space Agency's Rosetta comet chaser.
'I got the idea for the insulin pump wristwatch when I watched a film of a little 8-year old girl with diabetes using an insulin pump and saw what she had to go through to get her daily doses of insulin,' recalls Nicole Schmiedel.
Many diabetics who need multiple daily insulin injections to control their blood sugar use cumbersome syringes. Few use insulin pumps or other newer techniques. Ms Schmiedel wanted to design a system to improve the quality of life for diabetics and allow them to lead as normal a life as possible.
Ms Schmiedel's design looks like a modern wristwatch but contains a pump with sufficient insulin for two to three weeks of use by a type 1 diabetic. The pump is attached to the user via a thin tube and a needle inserted under the skin to allow the insulin to flow into the body continuously, substituting conventional syringe injections.
'COR looks like a watch and not a medical device,' Ms Schmiedel adds. 'When the pump is not in operation the menu switches to watch mode and displays the current time and date. It also includes an alarm clock.'
Piezo-electric transducer technology is based on a physical phenomenon that has been known for a long time but was only researched and developed into a handy technology for space programmes back in the 1990s.
'I was only able to design COR because the piezo-electric transducer technology had already been developed for space programmes and was ready to use,' says Ms Schmiedel. 'The next step is to find a company to produce COR and market it.'
Ms Schmiedel also presented her novel insulin wristwatch at this year's European Space Technology Transfer Conference.
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Category: Medcal Devices
Data Source Provider: European Space Agency (ESA)
Document Reference: Based on information from the European Space Agency (ESA)
Subject Index: Aerospace Technology; Coordination, Cooperation; Innovation, Technology Transfer; Medicine, Health; Scientific Research