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Griffith Uni develops novel wearable device

A team of Griffith health technology researchers has won the iAwards 2020 Business Industry Solution of the Year with a device they created to better identify and treat pain. The Menzies Health Institute Queensland NHMRC Early Career Research Fellow Dr Daniel Harvie and his team of PhD candidate Nick Olthof and Griffith Electronic and Computer Engineering alumnus Dylan Chippindall won the national award after taking out the state prize in October 2020.

Photo: The iTAD, Griffith University, Press Release

Their invention, the Imprint Tactile Acuity Device (iTAD), will soon be tested in clinical trials. The national award recognises their research as an innovative step in the right direction. Dr Harvie said they aimed to solve a significant issue in a practical way, with the cause of persistent pain often invisible, and thus very difficult to treat.

“Tactile acuity is the ability to precisely feel the location and quality of touch on the body,” Dr Harvie said. “This sensory impairment has shown to correspond to changes in the area of the brain that processes information from the body (and) it has been proposed that re-training tactile acuity might reduce pain by reversing these changes.”

The iTAD is a device that delivers vibro-tactile impulses through 12 nodes, imbedded in a wearable strap and is designed to create greater visibility when treating pain.

The new science suggests that changes in the nervous system can be a key cause and the iTAD can help identify and treat those changes in the nervous system, Dr Harvie said. “Using our wirelessly connected tablet, clinicians like physiotherapists can measure how accurately patients can perceive sensations and they can identify people who might benefit from sensory training using the device.”

Not only does the iTAD provide an interface for sensory testing and training games while offering feedback to patients and therapists, but it is also more efficient than its alternatives. The iTAD fills a real gap in the management of a massive problem and it does so in a practical way.

Wearable tech on the rise

The wearable market in Australia is expected to register a CAGR of 14.5% during the forecast period from 2020 to 2025, according to recent research. Smart wearables offer a multitude of features, which include fitness tracking, managing daily tasks, checking emails and making contactless payments, etc. Hence the change of consumer lifestyle and rising awareness of advanced technology will influence the growth of this market.

The Australian wearable market is multiplying due to the faster adoption of advanced technologies into wearable objects such as eyewear, wristband, and watch. These technologically advanced products are used in military, health, and wellness, the fitness of general people.

Moreover, increasing awareness about health consciousness among Australian people is fuelling the growth of this market. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has expanded the role of wearable technologies in the healthcare sector. These wearable products can offer different types of information, which include blood pressure, oxygen levels, quality and quantity of sleep, calorie intake, cholesterol levels, etc.

According to the Digital Report 2020, 21% smartwatch, and 3.2% virtual reality device users are using the internet for their device connections., However, data piracy threats are restraining the growth of this market.

Furthermore, researchers and technology companies in Australia are focusing on Covid-19 contact tracing with the use of wearables. Key vendors in this market are also focusing on this opportunity to grab the market potential during this unprecedented time.

However, the high cost of manufacturing and the shorter lifecycle of these electronics products poses a significant threat to this market. Additionally, wearable device manufacturers often have significant amounts of money on research and development, marketing, the promotion. Hence, this high-cost and rapidly changing technological environment can influence the growth of this market.

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