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Crux disposable coloured plastic electronic technology with wifi for inhalers.
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Video of Crux's disposable coloured plastic electronic technology for inhalers
As a technology capability showcase exercise UK-based product design company Crux have been working on a new design of asthma inhaler that incorporates some of the latest technology found in consumer electronics. The low cost of wireless technology, sensors and power sources are allowing disposable medical devices that have the capability to go beyond electronic dose counting and offer benefits such as data upload to the cloud to be viable.
The big stumbling block to overcome in the development of this new, smart asthma inhaler, is its screen. Liquid crystal displays commonly used in other electronic devices are unsuitable for medical applications thanks to their employment of glass, poor visibility in bright light conditions, high power consumption, and their relative level of robustness.
By integrating a new to market thin film switchable plastic display that has been developed by British company Folium Optics makes Crux's smart inhaler a reality. The display can be curved as its under 0.5mm thick and compliant, it doesn't have to be straight-edged and can have any footprint you want. In production it is stamped out of a sheet almost like a label with an added benefit of being disposed of in normal plastic waste. You can compare it to the trademarked E-Ink used on the Kindle but can be manufactured in colour or monochrome. Switchable multi colour screens are also possible with this technology and something Crux have employed in an electronic auto injector design. Currently the display technology is being readied for production by Folium Optics and will be available in 2014-15.
A key benefit of Crux's smart inhaler is it can effectively teach the patient how to use it. For example with an HFA propelled MDI asthma inhaler you need to shake the canister for a given amount of time to prepare the dose. Shaking is required to correctly mix the drug and propellant. With an accelerometer onboard the electronics you can monitor agitation intensity and duration the patient has shaken the canister. A buzzer gives audible feedback alongside onscreen instructions indicating correct usage.
The inhaler also has a wireless link to allow it to be connected to a PC. This allows usage data to be uploaded to either personal or general medical records in the cloud. For instance, a device might be designed to dispense medication for one month and record details about drug usage for that period on board the unit. It will then subsequently be uploaded by a Practitioner when the device is returned at the end of its life. Power usage would be kept to a minimum by only activating storage facilities on the device when a button is depressed to allow the medication to be dispensed. Crux have partnered with Bsquare to develop the software, data encryption and reporting platforms. In its current form the device software reports into Microsoft Health vault.
Crux Product Design Ltd are a growing design and engineering consultancy specialising in medical devices. Crux has offices in Bristol, UK, and Mannheim, Germany, employing 26 engineers and designers. Crux has in-house 3D printing and CNC machining centres specifically for manufacturing medical grade polymers.
Crux Product design ltd is unveiling for the first time its innovative Smart electronic inhaler prototype in Hall 8B Stand K16.
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