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Bloodbot, The Vein-Finding Robot

Here is a project from the folks at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College London, and its Mechatronics in Medicine Laboratory, who are bent on developing an “active robot designed to take blood samples from the ante-cubital fossa…”

The Bloodbot identifies the location of a suitable vein by pressing a probe against the surface tissue of the ante-cubital fossa and measuring the force on the probe. The difference in the characteristics of the tissue from its surroundings, in response to the applied force, indicates the presence of a vein.

Once a suitable vein has been found, it inserts a needle under force control. When the needle penetrates the vein (identified by its force/position profile), the control system prevents further insertion, thus avoiding overshooting the vein.

We think they need to combine this robot with VeinViewer for a more accurate, and probably spookier, experience.

The Bloodbot Project…

Flashbacks: VeinViewer Shipped!; First Hospital To Use The VeinViewer ; Video of VeinViewer; VeinViewer Off to Europe; Vein Contrast Enhancer

(hat tip: DVICE)

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Personalized Replacement Voices For Neck Cancer Patients

micmicmic.jpgResearchers from the University of Sheffield, with collaboration of a team from the University of Edinburgh, are experimenting with a voice replacement technique for people who are about to lose their vocal cords. The group partnered with a woman that was going to have her vocal cords removed in a scheduled cancer surgery. Prior to the procedure, her voice was recorded on a computer and then used as a template to create a digitized voice that sounds very much like her. We are 100% for this new technology, as we can’t stand that terrible, scary, artificial voice converter that’s being used nowadays.

The voice was built using around seven minutes of speech from the client, which amounted to 100 sentences. This method is therefore much more practical than established `Voice Banking´ technologies which require two or three hours of recording to build a voice.

The client´s regenerated voice was developed by University of Sheffield Master´s student Zahoor Khan as part of his dissertation, with guidance from research student Sarah Creer, whose doctoral work uses the same technique to improve the voices of people with speech disorders. Their work forms part of the research done within the CAST (Clinical Application of Speech Technology) group, which is a multidisciplinary research group interested in applying speech technology in clinical areas such as assistive technology, speech and language therapy and electronic control systems.

Researchers have since assessed the quality of the recordings by getting listeners to judge the similarity of the simulated voice with the original and by asking Mrs Chapman and her family what they think of the voice. All listeners have thought the regenerated voice sounded very similar to the original.

Researchers in CAST hope to use these personalised synthetic voices in communication aids for people whose speech has become intelligible, speaking for them like a human interpreter.

Bernadette Chapman [the study subject] said: “For many years the Servox machine, or artificial larynx, has been the main means of communication for patients following laryngectomy or for those who have had severe speech impairment. The machine tends to sound very like a dalek and can be very embarrassing to use, especially in public places.”

Press release: Researchers rebuild a voice

Image: soundman1024

(hat tip: The Engineer Online)

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Lab On A Chip: One Drop Of Blood Is Enough For Many Tests

A new microfluidic device from the University of Southampton, called single-cell impedance cytometer, is being reported in Lab on a Chip. The technology promises to perform a white blood cell differential count in a tiny package from a puny sample.

According to Dr David Holmes of ECS, lead author of the paper, the microfluidic set-up uses miniaturised electrodes inside a small channel. The electrical properties of each blood cell are measured as the blood flows through the device. From these measurements it is possible to distinguish and count the different types of cell, providing information used in the diagnosis of numerous diseases.

The system, which can identify the three main types of white blood cells – T lymphocytes, monocytes and neutrophils, is faster and cheaper than current methods.

‘At the moment if an individual goes to the doctor complaining of feeling unwell, a blood test will be taken which will need to be sent away to the lab while the patient awaits the results,’ said Professor Morgan. ‘Our new prototype device may allow point-of-care cell analysis which aids the GP in diagnosing acute diseases while the patient is with the GP, so a treatment strategy may be devised immediately. Our method provides more control and accuracy than what is currently on the market for GP testing.

The next step for the team is to integrate the red blood cell and platelet counting into the device. Their ultimate aim is to set up a company to produce a handheld device which would be available for about £1,000 and which could use disposable chips costing just a few pence each.

Full story: Device being developed for on-the-spot blood analysis…

Abstract in Lab on a Chip: Leukocyte analysis and differentiation using high speed microfluidic single cell impedance cytometry

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Robotic Nurse Assistant Can Carry Patients Around Hospitals


The Japanese are gearing up for a time when there are more elderly folks needing assistance than there are young whippersnappers available to do the chores. The RIBA, or Robot for Interactive Body Assistance, is a 400 pound (180 kilos) device designed by engineers at the RIKEN institute and Tokai Rubber Industries to carry people up to 135 pounds (61 kilos) between hospital beds, wheelchairs, and even toilets. The device is full of tactile sensors to make carrying safe and comfortable for patients, and it can even recognize faces and be commanded via voice to perform basic tasks. The only problems, from our point of view, is the inadequacy of this robot of serving the hefty average American and the menacing demeanor of what looks like a space bear without the personality of Chewbacca.

Here’s a demo video of the RIBA…

Link: Google translation of Japanese info page about the RIBA

More from the Pink Tentacle

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

Post-op Fashion Statement: Designer IV Bags

Designer Olivier Trillon’s concepts make you wonder whether you’d prefer your post op morphine drip in a Yves Saint Laurent or a Chanel IV bag. Seeing how sexy medical gadgetry has been getting lately, perhaps this is a field for the fashion world to embrace with open arms.

More of Olivier Trillon’s works from Trend.Land

(hat tip: Interior design room)

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

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Latest Book Reviews

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

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