26 Jan 2016 Google Glass inspires Dragons’ Den doctors to develop lifesaving wearable technology
DEVELOPING any product takes vision, and two Welsh medics hope their innovative wearable technology will give fellow anaesthetists an improved line of sight on the job.
Inspired by Google Glass, Dr David Williams, from Carmarthenshire, and Dr John Dingley, from Swansea, have developed Vivi, which enables anaesthetists to check patients' vital signs data within their field of view, thereby allowing them to focus on precision work such as inserting intravenous lines or administering an epidural.
"At the moment you have to keep looking over your shoulder at monitors every few minutes," said Dr Williams.
"If I can have that information (within my field of view) it means I can keep more attention on my patient."
He said Vivi would be particularly useful while treating patients in the back of an ambulance or helicopter. The duo work at ABMU’s Morriston Hospital and lecture at Swansea University's Medical School, and also founded Bay Innovations, with support from the university.
They also appeared on BBC's Dragons' Den back in 2009 to pitch ShakerScope, a device powered by shaking that lights up medical instruments for use in remote, off-grid locations. They left empty-handed but still commercialised the product, which has been deployed in Haiti and Afghanistan, among others.
Dr Williams, aged 48, of Llanelli, said their inventions usually started with a chat over a cup of coffee. "This is followed by a bit of frantic activity in our home workshops," he said.
He and his 52-year-old colleague, can turn their hands to micro-electronics, computer programming, 3D printing and patent writing. This has enabled them to develop proof-of-concept prototypes and liaise at a high level with design and manufacturing professionals.
Dr Williams said they had now created a pre-production Vivi prototype, which would need to pass a series of checks and certifications before potential manufacture. He added that Vivi could connect to smartphones and had real promise as wearable technology for athletes such as rowers, mountain bikers and skiers.
Their inventions are being hailed as a great fit for the £600 million ARCH Programme. ARCH (A Regional Collaboration for Health) is a unique collaboration project between the three partners Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (ABMU), Hywel Dda University Health Board and Swansea University.
The ARCH project is driving innovation to improve patient healthcare and develop talent to skill up the next generation of medics, researchers, academics and innovators.
Professor Keith Lloyd, Dean and Head of the Medical School, has praised the work of the two Swansea doctors adding: “It is very important for Swansea University’s Medical School to help unleash the bright ideas and innovation in the NHS.”
Professor Marc Clement, who is Executive Chair at Swansea University’s Institute of Life Science and Dean of the university’s School of Management as well as member of the ARCH Programme Board, said that university collaboration with health boards was already underway, and that innovation is one of the cornerstones of the programme.
Professor Clement said: “ARCH will help the region have a global reputation for best practice, healthcare and patient wellbeing and provide world-class healthcare delivering skills, talent development and innovation.”
A short video on the development of Vivi is available here.