Medtech – from smart splints to sonification

14 October 2016

New Zealand’s first ever medical technology showcase opens to the public at SILO 6 in Auckland’s Wynyard Quarter later this month.

School children and the public will see how medical technology is changing lives and healthcare, at Auckland’s newest art and exhibition space in the former waterfront cement silos at Wynyard Quarter.

The interactive SILO 6 Medtech exhibition is led by the University of Auckland’s Bioengineering Institute (ABI) in collaboration with other leading medical technology research institutions from around New Zealand and the TestPod – a group dedicated to making science discovery accessible.

ABI is a world-leader in the innovative development of medical technologies for healthcare.

Each of the six silos will house a different aspect of the exhibition, including at least one hands-on activity that engages both children and adults.

“We aim to engage kids in science in a playful way, by offering hands-on exhibits in collaboration with the TestPod on the different medtech research themes,” says the

Director of the University’s ABI, Distinguished Professor Peter Hunter. “The exhibition is also about bringing everyone involved in medical technology together and giving them an opportunity to network.”

Each silo space includes a patient story related to the research and introduces the team members involved in the work.

In the Diagnostics and Therapeutics silo, there will be touch screens for people to explore how a heart works and how it reacts in a heart attack. They can also check out their own lung capacity and look at a computer modelled version of their lung on-screen.

The future of affordable, accessible healthcare depends on improved, personalised care, for which diagnostics and therapeutics are at the core.

“New measurement methods, coupled with physiological modelling, are vital in reducing the costs of medical care and developing personalised diagnostics and treatments,” says lead researcher, Professor Martyn Nash.

Another Silo displays Interventional Technologies where the team researching the gut will display a virtual experience of the gut and an opportunity to do computer simulated surgery. They will also showcase their research into bio-electric waves in the stomach.

Minimally invasive and robot-assisted surgical techniques are still evolving and there is a huge potential market for improved systems and techniques.

“The limitations of laparoscopic surgery mean there is an urgent need for better surgical planning techniques, improved pre-operative and intra-operative imaging accuracy, and tailoring of operations to patient-specific anatomy and physiology,” says Associate Professor Leo Cheng.

In a special case study in the Assistive Technologies silo exhibition, the public can see the evolution of the smart splint – a leg splint that is no longer an attachment to the body, but more a part of the body and more versatile to the user.

Increasing numbers of people are surviving health conditions and trauma previously considered fatal, but often with significant disability and impairment.

“This signals a crisis for healthcare services and highlights the need for development of smart solutions that allow people to self-manage long term health conditions,” says Associate Professor Thor Besier.

The Telehealth and health informatics Silo will enable the public to use an app that can help them determine if they are eating well, and another activity will test fitness and see how well they can jump.

Tele-monitoring has the potential to improve efficiency of care in hospitals and the community and provide secondary preventative measures for the management of chronic conditions and maintenance of healthy lifestyles.

“It needs both large-scale surveys and remote monitoring techniques to be successful”, says leading researcher Dr Robyn Whittaker.

Tissue Engineering for Regenerative Medicine is another themed exhibition that will give the public the chance to see how researchers build artificial bone scaffolds.

Regenerative medicine has the potential to greatly improve outcomes for chronic disease states and trauma and to increase quality of life and physical activity, by developing biological substitutes for the regeneration and improvement of tissue and organ function.

“Tissue-specific, growth-factor loaded scaffolds, inserted at the site of injury, should provide temporary mechanical support and ultimately enhance cell attachment, growth and subsequent tissue regeneration,” says Professor Jill Cornish.

In the sixth Silo, a music composer from Waikato University, Professor Martin Lodge is working with ABI researchers on Sonification - composing music using the sounds from the heart and the electric waves from the gut, using physiological sensors.

The SILO6 Medtech exhibition includes interactive talks and panel discussions with insights from the medtech industry, clinicians, and researchers.

The launch of the SILO6 Medtech exhibition is on 27 October and the exhibition runs from 29 October to 6 November.

Public opening hours on two weekends are 29/30 October 10am to 5pm and 5/6 November 10am to 5pm. Free entry. School groups will attend from Monday to Friday 31 October to 4 November, 10am-3pm. Evening talks open to the public – timing and speakers to be confirmed.

The MedTech Centre of Research Excellence (MedTech CoRE) is a translational research platform taking basic research into applications for economic growth and healthcare outcomes. Established early in 2015, the MedTech CoRE is funded by New Zealand's Tertiary Education Commission. It is hosted by University of Auckland with nodes across the CMDT partner organisations.


For media enquiries email Suzi Phillips, Media Adviser, Medical and Health Sciences