Urinary tract infection detector wins Analog Devices Hackathon

Analog Devices Hackathon
Analog Devices Hackathon winners 2017. Image: Edwina Gore

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15 November 2017 | 0

A urinary tract infection (UTI) sensor won the second annual Analog Devices Hackathon, which took place in Thomond Park this week. which set out to examine how the company’s technology could be used to improve Assisted Living and enable more people to live independently.

For the hackathon, six teams of 10 students were set the challenge of using Analog Devices International (ADI) technology to develop assisted living solutions for older people or those living with a long-term illness or disability.

The winning team comprised of students David Brotons and Jack McEllin, who were joined by Analog’s Jake Greaves, Glenn Gall, Gearoid Moore and Andreas Callanan.

The team presented a sensor that could be placed inside a toilet bowl capable of detecting urinary tract infections. While the primary value is in preventing the high medical costs associated with late diagnosis of a UTI, another benefit is preventing falls and the associated costs.

“Falls among the elderly are a leading cause of serious injury and incapacitation, and are often the deciding factor in whether an elderly person is moved to a residential care facility,” said team member Andreas Callanan.

“Multiple scientific studies have shown that UTIs are a leading cause of falls among the elderly – one study showing that 44% of patients admitted to a fall were suffering from a UTI. Detecting UTI’s in older people can be difficult as a wide variety of symptoms can present. An infection can lead to confusion, weakness even hallucinations and of course encourages a person to visit the toilet more frequently. All of this increases the risk of falls, particularly at night time when elderly people are most vulnerable. If the UTI is detected early it means treatment can be initiated quicker and prevent life-changing events such as a fall.”

The winning concept proposed the use of a flush-washable, Internet-connected toilet insert, making use of capacitance sensing technology to detect nitrite content in the urine, a key indicator of E. Coli bacteria (the main bacteria present in cases of UTI). The time and urine characteristics of each toilet visit would be logged and analysed by a server. The frequency of each visit, changes in toilet use behaviour and the nitrite content of the urine itself would be used to flag behavioural changes that merit further investigation by the primary care provider.

Other entries included a network of carers in the community that could respond to sensor alarms set off in neighbours’ homes; a robot to dispense medicine with finger imaging and retina detection software to deter misuse as well as an escalating audio alarm to remind patients to take their medicine; and an ECG wearable vest to monitor cardiac activity and upload data to the cloud, thereby reducing time consuming visits to clinics or hospitals.

Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, Pat O’Doherty, VP Analog Garage, said: “Analog Devices is pivoting away from just being a component company, so it was great to see the effort put into devising complete solutions – from considering what software stack would sit on the technology, to the analytics, to connectivity to the cloud. The theme of assisted living was very relevant. Everyone could connect and related with it – so many had personal stories to share.

“We were impressed with how the teams took the time to figure out the problem first. This is how the innovation process starts and reflects what we do in Analog Garage. Simply flinging technology at solutions doesn’t work – the technology will be rejected.”

The company will now examine the feasibility of developing the winning concept into a saleable product.

 

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