Rubber Bands – The next big thing in wearable sensors?

RubberbandsWhen you’re ten years old, pinging rubber bands across the classroom is fun. Getting caught doing so by your teacher is not. However you have to admit it’s kind of a novel use for those flexible little bands. Now Irish researchers may have upped the game by finding another, even more novel application for them.

The team at AMBER, the Science Foundation Ireland-funded materials science centre, and the School of Physics TCD, working with researchers from the University of Surrey, have discovered a method of creating wearable sensors from shop-bought rubber bands. If you were listening back in class, you’ll remember that rubber doesn’t normally conduct electricity. However, the researchers whose findings have just been published in ACS Nano, a leading international nanoscience publication, discovered that by adding graphene the rubber bands became electrically conductive. In tests, the bands were strongly affected by any electrical current flowing through them if the band was stretched, which means tiny movements such as breath and pulse could be sensed by the technology.

The potential of graphene to be used in wearable sensors was noted by our TTA Editor-In-Chief, Donna, in her Pointer to the Future item back in 2011, Nanosheets and graphene: powering sensors, computers. Because rubber is available widely and cheaply, this latest development could open up major possibilities in the manufacturing of wearable sensors worldwide. Which means we can all look forward to finding graphene infused biosensors in everything from our bras to our bionic underpants.

Read more:

Posted in Ireland, Pointer to the future, Sensors, University Research | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Irish Human Computer Interaction Conference 2014

2014 marks the 8th Annual Irish Human Computer Interaction (iHCI) conference, Ireland’s leading forum for work in all areas of Human Computer Interaction. The conference theme is “Shaping our Digital Lives” which reflects how technology influences our home, work, play, and life, and the challenges in designing and deploying innovative and collaborative technologies which shape our lives. The conference will take place on Monday 1st and Tuesday 2nd September 2014 at The Helix, Dublin City University. Read more or register at iHCI 2014

Posted in Connected Health, eHealth, Events, Health & Wellness, Ireland, Sensors, University Research | Leave a comment

Irish Government Commits to National Health Innovation Hub in 2014

The Irish Government has just announced that a National Health Innovation Hub will be established in 2014, following the success of a Demonstrator project in Cork and an independent evaluation of its role. The Hub aims to support Irish businesses in the pharmaceutical, medical devices and ICT sectors – which together account for over €140billion in annual exports. It is hoped its creation will allow the Irish health system to gain easy access to innovative companies who can provide solutions to the problems that it faces, making it cheaper and easier to deliver better health-care to more patients.

Read more: Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Posted in Connected Health, Health & Wellness, Ireland, Pointer to the future, Policy | Leave a comment

‘Honest Broker’ Health Data Service for NI

An Honest Broker Service (HBS) for Health and Social Care (HSC) in Northern Ireland is to be set up. The aim is to enable non-identifiable health data to be shared to maximise health service benefits which can be gained from it. It will enable the provision of anonymised, aggregated and in some cases pseudonymised health and social care data to the DHSSPS, HSC organisations and for ‘ethically approved health and social care related research’. Read more: DHSSPS Business Services Organisation 

Posted in Big data, Connected Health, eHealth, Long-term conditions, Northern Ireland, Policy | Leave a comment

NI Health Minister views Ekso GT Exoskeleton Suit

The Ekso Wearable Walking Exoskeleton (EWWE) is a wearable, battery-operated bionic exoskeleton that enables patients with lower extremity weakness or paralysis to stand and walk on level surfaces. It has been recently viewed in NI by Health Minister, Edwin Poots. Northern Ireland’s blind adventurer and athlete Mark Pollock, demonstrated the device. Mark who became the first blind man to reach the South Pole,was left paralysed after falling from a window. He is a recognised champion for paralysed people all over the world.  The Belfast Telegraph has a nice piece on Mark’s experience wearing the suit. DHSSPS Press Release

Posted in Northern Ireland, Pointer to the future, Robotics | Leave a comment

Sligo Man Gets ‘Bionic Eye’

The first commercial telescopic eye implant outside the USA trials sector, has been implanted in an 80 year old Sligo man’s eye. The tiny telescopic implant uses sophisticated micro-optical technology to magnify central vision images. This provides improved ‘straight ahead’ vision. Read more: The Irish Independent 


Posted in Ireland, Pointer to the future, Robotics | Leave a comment

Launch of Western Trust Mental Health App

The recently developed ‘My Mind’ App is now available. The free My Mind App can be downloaded by searching “My Mind” in iTunes. The App allows users to access evidence-based, up to date information about their condition and the services available to them. It is exclusive to mental health services in the Western Trust area and features videos of local health professionals offering practical information to support the client’s journey to recovery. The App highlights Mental Health Services that can be accessed in the Trust area including contact details for local support groups and organisations. Read More: Western Health Trust

Posted in Medical Apps, mHealth, Northern Ireland | Leave a comment

Report: Views on NI Telemonitoring Services – April 2014

The Patient and Client Council have asked a number of people about their experience of the Northern Ireland Telemonitoring Service. A total of nine people were interviewed and all were ‘overwhelmingly positive’ about the service. A report has now been produced summarising the responses.

The BMA however remains unconvinced and BMA Northern Ireland GP’s Committee Chair, Tom Black said that although the BMA were supportive of the pilots to see if they could help patient care, ‘any additional workload into primary care as a result would need to be properly planned, managed and resourced.’

Read more: Patient and Client Council Blog


Posted in Events | Leave a comment

Study: Knowledge and perceptions of connected health in Northern Ireland

A recent study published in the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice set out to examine the public’s knowledge and perceptions of ‘Connected Health’ in Northern Ireland.

A questionnaire was administered by face-to-face interview to 1003 people in shopping centres across Northern Ireland. Topics included public knowledge of Connected Health, opinions about who should provide Connected Health and views about the use of computers in health care. Unsurprisingly, most respondents had never heard of Connected Health (92%). However, following a ‘standard definition’ the majority felt that it was a good idea.

Read more:  The Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice (subscription access only)

Posted in Connected Health, Northern Ireland, University Research | Leave a comment

Big Data Week in Belfast 2014

In May 2014, and for the first time, Big Data Week will be coming to Belfast. The series of events will showcase ‘some of the premier legal, business and technical insights into Big Data from speakers from across Britain, Ireland and Northern Ireland’. For more information visit the event website.

Posted in Big data, Events | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Health and Social Care Webportal – Citizens Workshop

The Health & Social Care Board (HSC), Public Health Agency (PHA), Patient Client Council (PCC) and five Health Trusts are working together to build a single ‘One-stop Shop public-facing website’. It is envisioned that this will include information on all Health and Social Care services in Northern Ireland.

This will include accredited information on a wide range of health topics including preventative and self-management advice, service locator, standards to expect when receiving care, complaints information, contact information, links to Community, voluntary groups and support groups.

If you are interested in hearing more about the portal and giving your views, a citizen engagement workshop is being held in Belfast. You can register for it here. Further details:

When:    Tuesday 29 April 2014

Where:   Grosvenor Hall, Belfast Central Mission, 5 Glengall St, Belfast

Time:     The Workshop will commence at 12:30pm (lunch provided) and conclude at 4.30pm.


Posted in Events, Northern Ireland | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Health Minister Launches Two Northern Trust Software Systems

Health Minister Edwin Poots has launched two new hospital IT systems which aim to improve patients’ health and save lives through the appropriate use of medications. Developed by the Pharmacy and Medicines Management Department in the Northern Trust, the two systems are the Live Automated Microbiology Pharmacy Surveillance System (LAMPS) and the Electronic Medicines Reconciliation System (EMRS).

LAMPS seeks to improve patient outcomes through the appropriate use of antibiotics to treat infection. The system operates in real time in both acute hospital and community settings to detect changing trends in antimicrobial resistant organisms. Monitoring trends enables appropriate and effective prescribing by clinicians and improves patient safety.

EMRS supports safe, effective, medicine use throughout the inpatient journey allowing patients’ medication details to be recorded in a uniform way in real time without the need for paper records. This reduces the risk of error, improves patient safety and ensures that patients are on the right medication to enable optimal management of their health.

Read more: HSC Innovations

Posted in Connected Health, eHealth, Northern Ireland | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poots talks Connected Health at Mobile World Congress

Health Minister Edwin Poots has addressed delegates at the ‘mPowered Industries’ strand of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona today.

The Minister said; “Chronic diseases are one of the biggest challenges facing health systems today. The need to better manage people with these conditions outside of the hospital setting is widely recognised. Mobile technologies play a crucial role in educating and monitoring people within their home environments and offer many solutions to improve chronic disease prevention and management. Read more: DHSSPS press release

Posted in Connected Health, eHealth, Northern Ireland | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

SBRI Competition – Medicines Adherence

medicinesThe Northern Ireland Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPSNI) in partnership with Technology Strategy Board, working with the Northern Ireland Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) and Invest Northern Ireland (InvestNI), is launching a Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) competition to stimulate the development of innovative technology solutions to optimise patient health and social care outcomes through improved medicines adherence.

The total funding available for the first phase of the competition is £550k (inc. VAT) and the maximum funding for any single contract in the first phase will be £75k (inc. VAT). Further funding may be available if Phase 1 identifies sufficiently robust and viable proposals for Phase 2.

Phase 1 opens on Monday, 3 March 2014 and the closing date for applications is 12:00 noon on Wednesday, 14 May 2014. The deadline for registration is 12:00 noon on Wednesday, 7 May 2014. A briefing event for businesses interested in finding out more about the competition will be held from 10:00am to 12:00 noon on Monday, 10 March 2014 in Belfast. Read more: SBRI



Posted in Connected Health, Policy | Tagged , | Leave a comment

New study to investigate benefits of online treatment of anxiety and depression

The Trinity College Dublin (TCD) School of Psychology has begun the search for participants in a trial to see whether anxiety and/or depression can be treated online. Read more: Silicon Republic

Posted in Events | Leave a comment