The 19th annual Create the Future Design Contest for engineers, students, and entrepreneurs worldwide, sponsored by COMSOL, Inc., and Mouser Electronics, drew more than 500 innovative product ideas from engineers and students in countries from around the world. The Medical category itself received 70 outstanding entries from 16 countries. Analog Devices and Intel were supporting sponsors, and Zeus sponsored the Medical category. The contest, which was established in 2002, recognizes and rewards engineering innovations that benefit humanity, the environment, and the economy. Winners were selected from the seven categories: Aerospace & Defense, Automotive/Transportation, Consumer Product Design, Electronics/Sensors/IoT, Manufacturing/Robotics/Automation, Medical, and Sustainable Technologies/Future Energy. In addition to product ideas at the concept or prototype stage, contestants could submit designs for commercial products introduced to the market within the last 12 months. The winners were announced at a special one-hour virtual presentation in September. The webinar can be viewed here. The grand prize winner receives $25,000, while the first-place winner in each category receives a Hewlett-Packard workstation computer.

This article introduces the Medical Category winner and four Medical Category Honorable Mentions. Congratulations to all who entered. All of the entries can be seen here .

Halo Speculum — Invented by a Female for the Female

Tamatha Fenster, MD, MS, FACOG Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery, Director of Biotechnology & Innovation, Fibroid & Adenomyosis Center; Assistant Professor of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Weill Cornell Medicine, New York Presbyterian;
Mitchell Tung, Sr. Industrial Designer, OneWorld Design & Manufacturing Group;
JJ Lees, Founder, President, Artisan Medical Devices

The history of the speculum dates back to the 1840s when “the godfather of gynecology,” Marion Sims, performed dozens of surgeries, without anesthesia, on enslaved women using a spoon he bent backwards.

“As a gynecologist for the past 15 years, the speculum that I use to perform exams on my patients is millimeters away from the original model,” says Dr. Fenster. “Why have a bill that opens up and down, when a female introitus has a circumferential opening? Why have cold hard metal when women have tremendous sensitivity in the vaginal canal? Why have one basic shape, when body habitus and pregnancy can alter anatomy from patient to patient. We knew women deserved better, so we created the Halo speculum.”

What are the potential benefits? The Halo speculum is composed of overmolding soft silicone sleeve on flexible surgical steel sheet and medical-grade nylon handles. The design allows the speculum to be rolled up as small as a tampon. When placed in the vagina, it gently expands and retracts the sidewalls. This way, it does not need excessive stretch to retract the sidewalls like the duck bill. The spiral accommodates all diameters of the vaginal canal regardless of the size of the patient, increasing ease of the procedure for both the surgeon and patient.

The composition of the Halo speculum incorporates multilayer technology. The outer silicone layer provides comfort, and the inner layer of flexible surgical steel sheet provides secure structural support. As proven in the team’s lab and the operating room, the speculum does not collapse with a moving patient.

Halo’s versatility extends well beyond the conventional speculum use cases. For vaginal procedures like vaginal morcellation during hysterectomy and electro-surgery during cervical cancer procedures, the steel and silicone make it possible to perform these procedures safely in the vaginal canal without injury to the sidewalls. The vaginal cuff can easily be closed, as the Halo provides perfect exposure of the top of the vagina. No additional hands are needed to hold the speculum as it is completely self-retaining. The Halo replaces all metal retractors with one simple one-size-fits all design.

Given that the Halo provides perfect exposure of any woman’s internal vaginal anatomy, it can be used in all procedures in and out of the operating room that depend on visualization of the cervix such as LEEP, colposcopy, endometrial biopsies, intrauterine device insertions, office hysteroscopies, hysterectomies, and pap smears. Assessing just hysterectomies, 600k hysterectomies are performed each year. The surgical-grade Halo unit price is $70, so at 20 percent of just the hysterectomy market, the Halo would grow profits of almost $9 million a year.

Femtech has grown in magnitude and now incorporates robotics, flexible scopes, and radio-frequency ablation, but we forgot to improve the most fundamental medical instrument that gynecologists use every single day — until now. Women deserve to have Halo as the new standard in healthcare.


Smart Wearable Sensor for Continuous Monitoring of Wound Healing

Olja Simoska, University of Utah, Salt Lake City and Keith J. Stevenson, Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, Russia
The sensor monitors chronic wound activity.

This wearable electroanalytical sensor, based on carbon ultra-microelectrode arrays on flexible substrates, monitors chronic wound activity. These low-cost devices can quantitatively measure the state of wound healing in real time and provide a smart dressing to deliver wound treatment.

For more information, visit here .

The drug treats localized pain without the side effects of opioids.

First-in-Class Therapeutic Pain Drug Designed from Proteins

Samerender Nagam Hanumantharao, Derek Allen, and Paul Blum, Neurocarrus, Lincoln, NE

This ground-breaking drug easily treats localized pain without the side effects of opioids. The novel drug is engineered from natural proteins to be a long-lasting, local painkiller. It specifically targets only the pain neurons, so it does not affect muscular activity.

For more information, visit here .

LIMBER Unibody Prosthetic Leg

Luca De Vivo, Joshua Pelz, and Herb Barrack, LIMBER Prosthetics & Orthotics, La Mesa, CA
The manufacturing process begins with a scan of the amputee’s limbs.

Novel 3D printing and digital design techniques were used to create affordable, unibody prosthetic devices. The process starts with a scan of the amputee’s limbs. Using digital design, the scans are transformed into a personalized prosthesis manufactured using in-house 3D printers.

For more information, visit here .

POPSafe™ Tracheostomy Tube Sets — A Life Saving Device

Kay Fuller, Smart Bridge Medical, Ann Arbor, MI
The prdouct eliminates "pop-off" events.

This device eliminates deadly accidental ventilator “pop-off” disconnect events. The FDA 510(k)-cleared tracheostomy tube sets include a patented ventilator elbow connector and overpressure relief safety valve.

For more information, visit here .

See the rest of this year's winners: