We are a translational research group, focusing on getting new technology to market fast. It takes 10-15 years on average to develop one new medicine from initial discovery through regulatory approval. We aim to push our technology from the lab and into the market within 1 year. We achieve this through several strategic choices: 1) we selectively work on projects that have translational value, 2) we align our research with industry partners and work towards technology transfer from the onset of the project, and 3) we bypass several regulatory challenges by innovating on existing, FDA-cleared, devices.

Below is an updated list of key technologies developed by our team:

Intuitive Control of Prostheses and Orthoses

Current electromyographic-(EMG)-controlled prostheses and exoskeletons do not allow for fine force regulation. That is, current control strategies provide only binary, all-or-nothing, control based on a linear threshold of EMG activity. We have developed a software package capable of robustly predicting an individual's intended kinematics from neuromyoelectric signals. Our software enables patients to finely regulate their motor output in order to manipulate fragile objects. Our software features low latency times and state-of-the-art accuracy that improves over time. This technology is no longer for sale; the technology has been exclusively licensed to Biologic Input Output Systems Inc.

Smart Control of Smart Devices

Interaction with assistive smart-home technology (e.g., lights, speakers) traditionally involves wall-mounted switches or device-specific remotes. These interfaces require users to physically move to specific locations in their home, which prohibits seamless interactions and is not inclusive those with mobility issues. Voice commands are the primary movement-free interface, but voice commands are interruptive to the ambiance, require extensive processing of sensitive data, are not inclusive to individuals with speech and hearing impairments, and yield only a single formulaic outcome with delayed feedback. We have developed a smart wristband capable of detecting a user’s intention and translating it into control of assistive smart-home technology. Importantly, we can detect a user’s intended hand motion even if the individual cannot physically move due to neuromuscular or musculoskeletal impairments (e.g., paralysis, arthritis). This technology is available for licensing. Inquiries should be directed to Huy Tran (huy.tran@utah.edu) through the University of Utah PIVOT Center.

Rapid Diagnostics and Rehabilitation of Fine Sensorimotor Function

Evaluating hand dexterity is a critical aspect of assessing assistive/rehabilitative technology and informing patient care. Current upper-limb dexterity assessments primarily target gross motor function and do not directly measure the ability of an individual to finely regulate their grip force. An increasingly popular test of fine motor function among researchers is a fragile-object test, in which participants are instructed to lift and transfer an object while minimizing their applied grip force. Our technology, dubbed the Electronic Grip Gauge (EGG), brings the fragile-object test into the clinic so that patients, doctors, and therapists can rapidly disentangle sensory and motor deficits of fine motor function in a quick and seamless way. Patients and occupational therapists can use the EGG to help patients rehabilitate their fine sensorimotor hand function after a life-altering neuromuscular disability. This technology and associated software can be purchased today. For product demonstrations and pricing, please contact Dr. George (jake.george@utah.edu).


Portable and Customizable High-Voltage Transcutaneous Stimulator

Most neural stimulators do not have a high enough compliance voltage to pass current through the skin. The few stimulators that meet the high compliance voltage necessary for transcutaneous stimulation are typically large benchtop units that are not portable, and the stimulation waveforms cannot be readily customized. We have developed a portable, programmable, multichannel, noninvasive neural stimulator that can generate three custom bipolar waveforms at ±150V with microsecond temporal resolution. The design is low-cost, open-source, and validated on the benchtop and with a healthy population to demonstrate its functionality for sensory and motor stimulation. Sensory nerves can be activated using electrocutaneous or transcutaneous stimulation, and muscle activation can be achieved by stimulating the muscles directly or the motor neurons that innervate the muscles. If you are interested in assembling your own device using our open-source design, or interested in purchasing an assembled version of this device, please contact Dr. George (jake.george@utah.edu).