Medgadget was recently invited to attend the imec Technology Forum (ITF) conference in Antwerp, Belgium. One of the highlights of the conference was the demo floor where imec, which is a non-profit R&D innovation organization, had the opportunity to show off some cool technologies from their research teams, spinoff companies, and partner organization.
While the event wasn’t purely health/medically focused, there was a significant emphasis on applications in these fields, both during the speaker sessions and on the demo floor. Here are some of the notable demos we saw from the floor:
Tetrahertz (THz) Spectrum Imaging
Compared to traditional X-ray radiography, THz imaging produces similar results, but is much safer because it uses non-ionizing radiation. THz waves have much potential for cancer imaging, as cancer tissue tends to be visible on medical images most clearly when zapped with radiation waves in the THz spectrum. THz imaging could also find uses in dental imaging and colonoscopies when paired with traditional camera imaging.
Miniaturized Ultrasound Transducers for More Portable Medical Devices
While ultrasound technology has been around for many years, truly ultraportable ultrasound devices don’t really exist, as the transducers need to be a large enough to be clinically useful. Imec has managed to shrink the transducer’s footprint to a component that is just millimeters in size. Aside from smaller ultrasound imaging devices, these new transducers could find their way into next-generation wearable diagnostic devices, neurostimuators, more immersive AR/VR (through contact-free haptic feedback), and much more.
Eye-Tracking Glasses to Aid in Research of Neurological Disorders
Imec unveiled a wearable device concept that integrates wireless eye-tracking technology into a standard pair of eyeglasses. Check out our previous post that explains all about this cool concept.
Contact-Free ECG Array and Radar for Driver Health Monitoring
We spend a lot of time in our cars, time which is constantly putting us at risk for potentially fatal accidents if a driver becomes impaired due to drowsiness, fatigue, or even a sudden health issue. Imec has developed somewhat of a smart car seat that consists of an array of capacitive sensors capable of monitoring a driver’s ECG, heart rate, and breathing rate. Additionally, millimeter-wave radar technology is mounted on the dashboard to provide the system extra confidence in measuring heart rate and breathing rate based on detecting chest movements.
Because the electrode array is so dense, uses higher power sensors, and contains intelligent algorithms to filter out noise and motion artifacts, the electrodes don’t need to make contact with the skin, so the driver can be wearing even a heavy jacket. Imec sees this technology being used in a variety of applications, from daily driver health checks to post-accident driver assessment to support for autonomous driving.
All-In-One Chip For Multiparameter Vital Sign Monitoring
Imec showed off updated prototypes of the Health Patch device that we’ve covered over the past couple years. They shared with us one medical application they are investigating in which the patch is paired with a miniaturized dialysis machine that the Dutch Kidney Foundation is developing. The portable dialysis machine would be used in a patient’s home while he or she is sleeping, and the patch would monitor the body’s fluid levels and other vitals to trigger the dialysis machine to automatically turn off.
Organ-On-Chip Device to Improve Drug Candidate Screening
Imec unveiled an advanced organ-on-chip device that could be used to improve the screening process of drug candidates. Check out our previous post that explains all about this novel lab-on-chip.
Compact, Disposable Flow Cytometer
Typical cytometers and cell counters usually have a large footprint due to the various optical components necessary to accurately detect biologically relevant information. Imec has developed a cytometer that replaces expensive optics with photonics. The result is a significantly more compact and less expensive device. The integrated visible photonics and flat optics technology in the imec cytometer has many potential life science applications.
We’re excited to see how these new devices will continue to develop and hopefully become commercialized! If you’re a life sciences company that might be able to utilize any of these technologies, get in touch with imec. They’re eagerly looking for ready tech partners!
Link: imec homepage…