3 health technology solutions from student entrepreneurs
These inventions could help a lot of people provided they received some funding.
Tue, May 07, 2013 at 1:50 PM
The NYU Entrepreneurs' Challenge is an annual contest of innovation and business savvy. (Photo: NYU Stern School of Business)
Having a good idea isn't enough to make a difference in the world. You also have to be able to sell that idea to everyone else.
That was the task at New York University's yearly Entrepreneurs' Challenge last week, where students pitch ideas before a panel of judges from NYU's Stern School of Business.
On Friday, May 3, the four finalists for the Challenge's Technology Venture Competition presented their pitches: a bio-inspired catheter, a diabetes management app, a device that can diagnose head trauma by tracking users' eye movements and an app to help researchers organize their data. They had to prove that their projects were more than useful: they had to be profitable, too.
A safer catheter
"Hospitals are no place for sick people," said biomedical student Manuskha Vaidya, explaining to the panel of judges that catheters in particular are a frequent festering ground for infectious bacteria that can seriously weaken or even kill a patient. Most current catheters combat infection with antibacterial chemicals, but the downside of this method is that each antibacterial agent has to be targeted to a specific type of bacteria, and even then, the bacteria will eventually develop a resistance, forcing scientists to develop a new preventative.
The catheter that Vaidya and her colleagues at Bioinspired Devices, LLC, developed doesn't use antibacterials. Rather, the catheter is made of a polymer that "sheds" as it's used, eliminating the collected bacteria inside the tube before it can infect the patient.
This shedding method was inspired by the human skin, which eliminates potential infectants by casting off its surface layer.
FitBit for diabetes
Databetes helps patients with diabetes manage their blood sugar. The app works sort of like FitBit, a popular health management app that prompts users to enter data about the food they eat and the exercise they undertake. Databetes' management system is specifically tailored to the needs of diabetic users, however, and can sync with other Bluetooth-equipped devices, such as blood sugar monitors.
Co-developer Doug Kanter is also a lifelong Type-1 diabetic. To sell the judges on his and his teammates' pitch, he showed the audience a graph of his personal health data gathered over the past 10 years. Since he began using Databetes one year ago, Kanter said, he's been the healthiest he's been in his life.
Faster concussion diagnosis
Oculogica is able to diagnose people with concussions and other head trauma quickly and without subjecting them to costly CT scans or MRIs.
Patients simply sit in front of a screen and watch a small moving image around its edges. A camera atop the screen tracks patients' eye movement as they follow the image, which indicates whether they have suffered a concussion or several other types of brain trauma, including nonstructural brain trauma, which is more difficult to identify because it doesn't show up on radiographic scans.
Oculogica co-founder and engineering student Robert Ritlop, said that an Oculogica scan costs only $500, compared with the $1,000 or more necessary per CT scan, adding that the device is highly applicable in the world of professional sports.
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