SensArs - Neuroprosthetics

 

Made to help amputees feel again from their missing limbs, SENSY from SensArs is a interesting prosthetic device available worldwide, made to restore life-like sensory feedback from the prosthesis of amputees or from the limb of patients with damages to the peripheral nerves. The neuroprosthetic is implanted within the residual nerves of the amputees, or the healthy part of their nerves to restore the natural flow of the neural sensory information.

Those who have lost their limbs in unfortunate events would thus be able to return a bit more to their previous way of living, perhaps easing them slightly from the mental and body fatigue of their accidents. This also helps subjects feel more natural again, tackling the problem of the phantom limb syndrome that may possibly arise. Over the course of a one-month therapy program with neurostimulation, scientists managed to considerably reduce phantom limb pain in one of the patients who complained of having it and in the other, the pain disappeared completely.

The prosthetic leg device, SENSY, is able to sense various parts such as foot touch, pressure, and knee joint angle with its external sensors. These sensed signals are then transmitted back to the nervous system using a set of stimulation electrodes implanted into the tibial nerve.

 

SENSY consists of an implantable intraneural electrode for sensory nerve stimulation, an implantable stimulator and an external smart controller. This smart controller, which is the “brain of the system” can be connected to the sensors embedded in the prosthesis or to a sensorized glove or sock, and receives information from the prosthesis and transduces it in the language of the nervous system, instructions of stimulation, which it sends to the implantable stimulator.

In other words, Artificial sensors are implanted to connect to intact nerves, stimulating response in the brain as if there was an intact nerve in a limb. The sensors are connect to wires simulating an actual nerve, and those wires are implanted and connected to actual nerves within the body. Between the artificial sensors and the residual nerve is an implantable neurostimulator which is bidirectional, sending and receiving signals from both the intact nerve and the artificial sensors.

The device was created with several options of usage:

  1. Being simply a sort of neural sensory pacemaker if the user does not have prosthetics
    • an excitable device like a sensor which also sends a signal to the nerve.
  2. Being a sensorized prosthetic
  3. Being a sensorized glove or sock over intact limbs but with nerve damage
    • These socks and gloves contain sensors within the fabric which act essentially as sensitized skin, also sending signals to an implanted device which communicates with the intact nerves

To make this device, the scientists tested attached tactile sensors to the sole of commercially available prosthetic feet, and collected knee movement data. They then placed tiny electrodes in volunteers’ thighs, connecting them to residual leg nerves, trying to introduce eletrodes inside the nerve to allow the restoration of a more natural sensory feedback.

The research team then made algorithms to translate information from their sensors into current impulses that the nervous system reads, delivering them to the residual nerve. The signals from the residual nerves are conveyed to the person’s brain, which is thus able to sense the prosthesis and helps the user to adjust their manner of walking accordingly.

From the test they received positive feedback from volunteers of the device, with many mentioning it was less mentally strenuous to use and also gave patients more confidence in themselves.

PROS:

I think the device is good as it gives those who have unfortunately lost a limb a chance to return to the way of living before their accident. Those who have lost their limbs in accidents most probably face the stress of losing a limb they were previously reliant on, and now, instead of having to change their entire lifestyle, they could still continue the path they were moving on. Usual prosthetics may help in providing some comfort by helping the users in feeling whole again but it may also go so far, as the senses in the lost limb are not felt by the user. This device helps users to come close to feeling as though they had never lost their limb, easing their pain.

I think SENSY is also incredible as it works in various ways. The adaptability of the device ensures a large range of users reap the benefits from their products, as those with varying problems from having nerve damage to missing an entire limb are all covered with SENSY.

Perhaps SENSY can go one step further and work with researchers studying how to make more human-like artificial skin to make the prosthetic even more similar to an actual limb. One example of an interesting skin made is by RMIT, that can electronically replicate the way human skin senses pain. The device mimics the body’s near-instant feedback response and can react to painful sensations with the same lighting speed that nerve signals travel to the brain.

Features of the electronic skin:

  • Stretchable electronics: combining oxide materials with biocompatible silicone to deliver transparent, unbreakable and wearable electronics as thin as a sticker.
  • Temperature-reactive coatings: self-modifying coatings 1,000 times thinner than a human hair based on a material that transforms in response to heat.
  • Brain-mimicking memory: electronic memory cells that imitate the way the brain uses long-term memory to recall and retain previous information.

“It means our artificial skin knows the difference between gently touching a pin with your finger or accidentally stabbing yourself with it – a critical distinction that has never been achieved before electronically.”

Hence, if they are able to work with RMIT, they could most probably create an artificial limb akin to a real one, allowing amputees get back their limbs and feel no difference.

All in all, SENSY is amazing as it is able to in a way replicate an actual human body part using technology and allow users’ neural signals to work with this artificially made device. Considering this, it feels as though advances in technology is bringing us one step closer to a world of cyborgs. Perhaps in the near future, one can easily replace damaged limbs for better artificial ones.

 

 

Sources:

https://www.sensars.com/

https://eithealth.eu/news-article/sensars-neuroprosthetics-the-future-of-nerve-stimulation/

Prosthetic Leg with Neural Sensory Feedback Shows Benefits for Patients

 

Concept and Product

Artificial Skin:

https://www.rmit.edu.au/news/all-news/2020/sep/electronic-skin

http://www.sci-news.com/othersciences/materials/electronic-artificial-skin-08824.html

https://www.slashgear.com/new-artificial-skin-could-let-robots-react-to-pain-like-a-human-07637038/

https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/electronic-skin-can-sense-touch-pain-just-like-human-skin/article32534591.ece

 

https://venturebeat.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Arable_8.jpg?w=1200&strip=all

 

The Arable Mark 2 is an all-in-one weather station, crop monitor and irrigation management device. The device installs in minutes, deploys with the push of a button, and requires no maintenance. Able to synthesize climate and crop data, the solar-powered device allows users to gather actionable insights for their crops in all growing conditions. Data observed would then be combined with historical data to deliver Point Forecasting – a unique machine-learning algorithm for accuracy, which then provides daily predictions.

 

 

Features of the Arable Mark 2

The Arable Mark 2 has a full sensor suite which delivers more than 40 climate and plant metrics. This includes Temperature, Humidity, Pressure Solar Radiation, Precipitation, Daily Evapotranspiration (ETc), Chlorophyll Index, NDVI and more. It can tell from looking down at the crop if it needs fertilizer or water, and it detects the presence of rain, temperature changes, solar radiation, and what is happening in the soil. It also has increased sensor accuracy and expanded cellular connectivity compared to its original, not mentioning extended battery life and a protective UV coating to withstand harsh conditions.

It is also able to capture scientific-quality measurements across locations with the only platform to combine meteorological and plant data in one place.

After data is collected, users are able to access their real-time field data easily using their mobile phones, on a website and API with Arable’s intuitive, user-friendly software platform. These data collected is then combined with a previous data. Then, using a highly accurate machine learning algorithm, the platform provides hourly and daily predictions up to 30 hours or 10 days ahead. Covering 12 climate zones, Arable’s global network of 30 calibration-validation sites ensures the Point Forecasting provides accurate and reliable data for each user’s needs.

 

Installation and Maintenance

Simply use a metal pole and add the Mark 2 above to ensure it is in optimum height, then check that the sensors on the bottom of the device are pointing north. Firmly press the top button on the Mark 2 for 3 seconds to initiate deployment. Blinking blue lights shows the device is connecting. After a few minutes, all four lights around the Arable logo with illuminate green, meaning the deployment sequence is complete.

To maintain healthy charging potential, simply use a clean cloth to wipe the solar panel of the Mark 2 of any dust or debris.

 

HD STORY N°5 - ARABLE MARK TOP DOME CORE

 

In other words, the Arable Mark 2 is a device that offers an integrated analytics platform with weather monitoring and plant health data all under one roof. It provides straightforward, plant-based measurements that are relevant to each individual users, allowing them to make informed decisions with unprecedented ground-truth accuracy, delivered in real time.

 

Pros

The Arable Mark 2 is a convenient and effective device for farmers and crop owners and also would be useful for the Singapore government’s plans to do urban farming (planting vegetables and other food crops on rooftops of HDBs). Since crop farmers have to take care of large and wide piece of lands, sometimes in varying places, the Arable Mark 2 allows them to be able to monitor their crops easily, and make changes or take precautions based on the paired predictive analysis software. Thus, this would aid them greatly in ensuring they reap good yields from their crops, as the software would provide insights on actions to take to ensure their crops grow healthily.

Since the Mark 2 is an all-in-one device, users also need not buy an array of different sensors to check on their crops. Instead, just this single device helps them to get all the data they require. This helps them to save the problem of having too many sensors to check, or too many regions to check.

Its easy deployment and low maintenance also adds to the convenience for the users, and the device’s strong coating allows it to pull through different environments, letting the users save time and efforts to clean these individual sensors.

The device being able to show real time information also is a good feature as the users will thus be able to take immediate action should any unexpected changes or situation occurs. Rather than only realizing possible problems later, real-time data can help with finding out the root of potential problems immediately.

 

Cons

The device is attached to a single pole which is stuck into the ground, and thus, I would raise the question of whether heavy winds and rain may potentially shift the device out of alignment. As mentioned in the Installation segment, the sensors on the bottom should be facing north for accurate data collection. However, strong winds may easily change this.

Another thing is this device system is highly dependent on cellular network and thus would not function in areas where signals and networks cannot reach. If the network in a particular area is bad, it may also potentially affect the data collected and cause inaccuracy.

 

Sources

Arable – Decision Agriculture

Arable Mark 2

https://agtechfinder.com/directory/d3ag/arable-mark-2

Arable launches a new generation of IoT tools for data-driven farming

https://www.newsbreak.com/news/1524900434442/arable-launches-new-mark-2-sensor-to-monitor-climate-and-plant-conditions-on-farms

What Arable learned bringing the IoT to farmers

 

Made to be non-invasive, the Sensimed Triggerfish is a continuous ocular monitoring system that uses a small telemetric sensor on disposable contact lenses. It is used to monitor glaucoma patients who are at risk of progression by capturing spontaneous changes in their eyes, allowing physicians with important information on their patient’s condition.

 

Monitoring the patient’s eye for 24 hours, the Sensimed Triggerfish provides a full image of the patient’s eye during their normal day. Since vision loss occurs at different rates for different people, this device allows doctors to help determine if the loss in vision is progressing at a fast or slow pace. Unlike normal optical appointments, the contact lenses provide the physicians with access to the changes in pressure, and volume of the patient’s eye, and also if there are any stress.

This allows specialists to visualise the patient’s IOP( intraocular pressure ) continuously. As mentioned Swissmed.Asia:

The data provided by the SENSIMED Triggerfish® complements punctual tonometer measurements and offers a qualitative profiling of the patient’s IOP for up to 24 hours. The pattern reproducibility of an individual patient’s profile allows for the optimisation of the glaucoma management*.

The Sensimed Triggerfish also helps doctors to determine the right treatment for the patients. There differing treatment levels for glaucoma, ranging from simply using eye drops to invasive surgical treatment. Thus, doctors would need to evaluate the severity of the situation before deciding on the appropriate treatment. This would be done effectively using a 24-hour monitoring system to follow the patients condition.

Patients would wear the device for a maximum of 24 hours, along with an adhesive antenna worn around the eye. Data is wirelessly transmitted from the contact lens to the antenna, and this data is then received by a portable data recorder worn by patients. This recorder then transmits the data via Bluetooth to the the physician’s computer.

Pros:

The pros of this device is that it is non-invasive and can record and report changes in real time, allowing for quick response to any situation and also providing doctors full coverage of the condition of the patient. Unlike before, where patients have to repeated return to the clinic for multiple checkups, the device is more convenient for glaucoma patients, allowing them to have fewer physical checkups, yet still knowing their physicians are well-aware of their situation. It also does not interfere with their day to day activities.

In my opinion, the Sensimed Triggerfish is a great device as it targets the problem at hand directly, with a small convenient wearable device. Instead of large machines that need to be situated in clinics that patients have to repeatedly travel to use, such devices allow patients with more freedom amidst their checkups and diagnosis. This could definitely be extended to other health problems, such as diabetes. Patients who require often medicines would greatly benefit from wearable health devices.

One example would be the TheraOptix, created by Harvard Medical School. These are a pair contact lenses made to dispense medication directly into the eye of the patient over periodically over the course of days or weeks.

Such lenses could be paired up with the Sensimed Triggerfish, allowing patients to say goodbye to inconvenient continuous usage of eye-drops and repeatedly traveling to clinics for check ups. Since the elderly are at higher risk of glaucoma, this reduction in traveling and movement would be useful for them, as they would not be required to exert themselves as much as before.

I also really like the idea of the device being a pair of contact lenses that would be hard to be distinguished by others if they did not pay attention. While it is true the antenna makes the wearer stand out, perhaps if the technology advances further for the data to be sent directly to the portable data recorder, it would allow patients to have a smooth day without any glances from passersby. This may not be the intent of the device (to make the data recording inconspicuous), but medical devices being smaller and less obvious would perhaps allow users to feel more at ease and comfortable without the unneeded attention.

Cons:

Some small cons of the Sensimed Triggerfish is that it has no optical correction, and thus patients with degrees may have to either carry on their day with blurry vision. Dry and red eyes is also said to be a common problem, though this could be solved with some eyedrops.

While the above two cons mentioned may bring some discomfort, I believe the pros of the device currently outweighs these cons. Allowing physicians to full data of the patient means that these patients would also receive better and more appropriate treatment. Thus, the Sensimed Triggerfish still proves to be a useful tool in this sense.

Yet, we must consider that the device may not be very suitable for their target audience. Since the target audience are patients with glaucoma, which are mainly elders, is the contact lenses suitable for those of much older ages? I believe those around their 50s would well benefit from this device and be able to use it with ease. However, those older, perhaps 65 and above, may not be able to wear the contact lenses well.

Those who seldom wear contact lenses may also find themselves using more time to wear the device rather than visiting the clinic. It may also not be comfortable for those who are not suited for contact lenses.

All in all, I think this device can be considered a breakthrough in health devices but definitely has more room to improve and expand on.

 

 

Sources:

Triggerfish and other news in brief

https://www.sensimed.ch/sensimed-triggerfish/

https://swissmed.asia/shop/diagnostics/sensimed-triggerfish-24-hour-iop-monitoring/

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/aos.13456

https://amp.interestingengineering.com/new-contact-lenses-deliver-drugs-directly-in-the-wearers-eyes

AI-powered contact lenses give new meaning to 20/20 vision

Sensimed Announces Approval of the Sensimed Triggerfish in Japan

In class, we were tasked to think of gestures one would use with their phone to change the lighting of the room. We were then asked to make sketches of these gestures.

Together with Sylvia, Daryl and Wan Hui, the four of us thought up different ways to switch up the lighting; using physical gestures, voice/sound, and on screen.