A miniature diabetes device that helps to measure glucose continuously through tears while reporting results to a person's smartphone has won the 2015 Dare-to-Dream Medtech Design Challenge.
The BlinkBit is a biosensor plug that is placed in the tear duct of one eyelid and is powered by scavenged energy from body heat, local electromagnetic radiation, and ambient light.
The submission came from Robin Felder who believes that this device would be helpful to diabetes patients who also have dry eye syndrome.
"It's an interesting concept - reminds me of the research funded by Google looking at contact lenses that would continuously monitor glucose," said Dr. Stephanie Kreml, principal at Popper & Co., and a member of MD+DI's editorial advisory board. "It would need to make sure that flow of tears is not obstructed completely and the device makes use of emerging technologies enabling IoT & leverages established ophthalmologist skillset for placing tear duct plugs."
Another judge also drew upon Felder's contention that BlinkBit would work better than Google's smart contact lens, which needed to be inserted and removed.
"BlinkBit might be a better packaging option than a contact lens, especially for kids as it is more robustly in the eye than a lens," said Bill Evans, founder and president of design firm Bridge Design, recently acquired by Ximedica.
Another judge also commented on the target market of BlinkBit.
"Continuous glucose monitoring is a key tool in the fight against diabetes, a major epidemic of our times," said Kadir Kadhiresan," principal in venture investments at Johnson & Johnson Development Corp.
While BlinkBit won the top honor and the $500 award, two others fought it out closely to claim the first and second runners-up awards. They were Wickit, a disposable device meant to counter ventilator-associated pneumonia submitted by Natalie Stottler; and Tethys, a parenteral infusion system that is small and sans an IV pole, submitted by Matthew Morris.
"Ventilator-associated pneumonia is a costly drain on the healthcare system," said Emilly Gilles, technology development manager at Mayo Clinic Ventures. "The Wickit design serves to both prevent infection and provide data analytics that may be helpful in further reducing hospital infection rates. This device has the potential to provide an affordable solution to reducing infections and allow staff to treat the condition for which the patient was hospitalized."
Remarking on Tethys, Kreml noted the device has a "very small design & battery operated and would be useful in limited resource settings."
Stotler and Morris will receive $250 and $100 for their efforts.
Meanwhile, readers of MD+DI have also chimed in. After more than 28,000 votes cast, the winner is Paul Ho for his pTAV device, a percutaneous temporary aortic valve for patients who are suffering from acute aortic regurgitation. Ho will receive a certificate from MD+DI.
Arundhati Parmar is senior editor at MD+DI. Reach her at [email protected] and on Twitter @aparmarbb
To learn more about medical devices and trends in the marketplace, attend the two-day MD&M Minneapolis conference, Nov. 4 and 5 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.