Verifying theoretical calculations in real-world medical situations has always been a tricky proposition, especially in space-restricted locations such as replacement joints. Recent results from a research collaboration of clinicians, scientists and the industry initiated in 1993 indicate a breakthrough in this area. The researchers developed and implanted a full artificial knee replacement that wirelessly communicates 3-D torque and force data for external computer analysis. MicroStrain developed the sensing and communication technology including a batteryless means of powering the circuitry.
An array of 12 high-sensitivity piezoresistive strain gauges embedded within the implant makes the torque and force measurements. Prior to implantation, the strain-gauge instrumented knee was pre-calibrated. To get the information outside of the body, a micro-miniature, micro-power wireless transmitter sends digital data to an external analytical instrument.
An energy harvesting technique powers the implant that uses a miniature coil and an externally applied alternating field, eliminating the need for batteries. Mounted to the outside of the patient’s shin, the remote powering coil is located away from the knee. Data from the strain gauge measurements are converted into 3-D torques and forces about the knee by the external computer using a stored calibration matrix.
The wireless sensing system measures the twisting, bending, compressive and shearing loads across the implanted knee. Based on analyzing the forces and torques transmitted across the knee joint during normal human activities — such as stair climbing, rising from a chair and walking — researchers will have information for design improvements, to refine surgical instrumentation and to guide post-operative physical therapy. The measurements may also detect activities that would overload the implant.
Truchard will be presented the award at the 2014 Golden Mousetrap Awards ceremony during the co-located events Pacific Design & Manufacturing, MD&M West, WestPack, PLASTEC West, Electronics West, ATX West, and AeroCon.
Robots that walk have come a long way from simple barebones walking machines or pairs of legs without an upper body and head. Much of the research these days focuses on making more humanoid robots. But they are not all created equal.
The IEEE Computer Society has named the top 10 trends for 2014. You can expect the convergence of cloud computing and mobile devices, advances in health care data and devices, as well as privacy issues in social media to make the headlines. And 3D printing came out of nowhere to make a big splash.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.