Abstract: Hygienic input devices for medical technology
Date: 15 September, 2018
Description of the problem
Input devices for computers normally consist of mechanical elements such as buttons and control knobs. To ensure that they can be moved smoothly and easily, they are generally designed without seals – in other words, there is a gap between the active element and the housing, which is not very hygienic. Although input devices in the form of touch displays do not suffer from these disadvantages, precision adjustments – such as those that can be made with a control knob – are impossible with a swipe gesture control system. For ergonomic reasons, most operators prefer control knobs for making precision adjustments.
Solution to the problem
An innovative input device in the form of a control knob is bonded over a radius to the operating panel. Not only is there no gap between the control knob and housing, but the radius also creates a harmonic transition that is easy to clean and makes it hard for germs to accumulate.
A further advantage lies in the potential cost savings of this solution. Instead of the large number of mechanical components that used to be required, now only one single part that combines the input and display functions is needed. In addition, the production technologies used are scalable.
Manufacture of innovative input devices that take the form of a protrusion from an operating panel, using printed, flexible electronics. This procedure is also called R3D (Roll-to-3D), i.e. flexible electronic elements from the roll are moulded into innovative 3D form elements in innovative re-shaping processes.
Manufacturers of medical technology who define the specifications for input devices. Design and manufacture are performed using this specification on a customer- and project-specific basis.
No product with identical features exists on the market, although it can be argued that touch displays can perform the input function, albeit not with the same level of precision. In theory, 3D form elements made from solid material and with the same function are also conceivable, though only in special cases for cost reasons.
To develop the technology, we collaborate closely with research facilities and industrial partners and have launched a number of cooperation projects to achieve this.
Since the input devices are sensor elements / OEM components rather than stand-alone systems, cooperation with medical technology manufacturers is essential. This combination, in turn, has the OEM advantage: the component manufacturer does not necessarily require global sales or global service stations – all this is covered by the medical technology manufacturers through their established sales and service network.
The time for this technology has already arrived. Provided that concrete specifications are available, the prototypes that are already being worked on can be designed on the basis of these specifications.
Technological development has been guaranteed by means of cooperation agreements up to the prototype stage, as well as by self-financing of the connection phase up to market maturity. From this point on, concrete product developments for medical technology manufacturers will determine the gradual expansion of production in the context of standard market conditions.