By LAURA LOREK
Reporter with Silicon Hills News
On Sunday, the UT Village featured a series of panel sessions on topics such as 3D printing, connected vehicles and big data. During a reception in the evening, UT students and faculty showed off a variety of inventions from electronic skin tattoos to a new whooping cough vaccine in the ballroom of the Radisson Hotel & Suites Austin downtown.
Ashish Deshpande, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, leads a group of students developing the HARMONY robotic exoskeleton. The robot is designed to provide physical therapy for people who have suffered from a stroke or spinal cord injury.
“It’s a one of a kind robot,” Deshpande said. “We believe there is a big need in delivering better therapy for people.”
The robot provides targeted therapy for the upper body, particularly the shoulders and arms. It’s designed to help people regain their motor skills so they can feed themselves and groom themselves, Deshpande said. The robot has one patent pending and the group is looking for partners and investors to take it to market, he said.Also in the healthcare area, Nanshu Lu, UT assistant professor of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics, leads a group that has created an electronic skin tattoo. The sensor is thinner than a Band-Aid and it can collect all kinds of information on the body’s functions from hydration to heart rate. It’s a platform technology, backed by National Science Foundation grants, that Lu calls the Epidermal Sensor System.
“The beauty is it acts like a secondary skin,” Lu said. “It can stay in the same position for multiple days.”
The big challenges now are coming up with a small power supply and a wireless data collection system, Lu said. Then the devices will be ready for mass production, she said. Her lab plans to commercialize the technology as a mobile health monitoring system.
“The system is multi-functional,” Lu said.
Another team at UT created “Project Ranger: The Next Revolution in Light Microscopy.” They’ve been working on the project to create an ultra high-resolution microscope.
“This lets you see things you normally can’t see inside cells,” said Martin Poenie, associate professor in molecular cell & development biology.
The key to the high resolution is polarized optics, he said.
UT financed the project which has patents pending, said Tom Baughman, program director for life sciences in the Office of Technology Commercialization at UT. The technology allows research to examine live cells under a microscope, he said.
UT researchers have also discovered a better vaccine to prevent whooping cough. It’s an antibody-based treatment.
“This is a more targeted and effective treatment than the current vaccine,” said Josh Laber, PhD candidate in chemical engineering.
Other innovations on display included the UT 3-D Printing and Vending machine, Single Frequency Cellular Communications, Waste to Crude technology and GPS-based Augmented Reality.