Imagine technology that is good enough to wear and safe enough to eat!
Technology innovation specialists at Lancaster University are working on a project to design a range of wide-reaching sensing devices for people suffering with anxiety.
This follows work undertaken by the School of Computing and Communications on an innovative anxiety management and peer support system, known as Clasp, which included a tactile, squeezable stress ball capable of logging anxiety triggers for people with autism.
Now the team are keen to move beyond one-size-fits-all health gadgets and progress to personalised, bespoke devices. They have taken the concept to the next level with a ‘pick and mix’ approach.
“Everyone has different needs,” said Team Lead and Research Fellow Dr Maria Angela Ferrario, “and we discovered, on further research, that the design did not suit everyone – some people preferred a wearable technology and others were concerned about developing system dependence. Everybody is unique with different needs.”
The project, which has attracted Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council funding, will examine digital health tools by ‘deconstructing’ them to their simplest components so they can then be collaboratively redesigned, individually customised and combined to suit specific needs.
The first stage of the new project has seen all materials used in the initial technology go under the microscope at the University’s Chemistry Department.
They arranged a special ‘polymer laboratory’ exploring the potential of new biodegradable, eco-sensitive and nontoxic materials for personalised manufacturing such as 3D printing.
“We have investigated the use of non-toxic, ecologically intelligent, biodegradable and environmentally kind materials for each component and the capability building of such technology in society,” explained Dr Ferrario.
The team have adopted a modular approach to design. Technologies will be broken up into components, which can then be differently combined and built to suit individual needs by choosing different shapes, materials and functionalities, and manufacture them locally through existing 3D printing networks.
The dynamics of personal data capture and sharing, privacy and presentation will also be investigated in the project.
“The development of a Clasp ‘open platform’ will support the design and development of a wide range of personalised digital tactile anxiety management technologies for people with autism and their support network and with application beyond autism, “ added Dr Ferrario.”
The Latest on: Anxiety management
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The Latest on: Anxiety management
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