Talk us through your journey in designing, developing, iterating, and testing your invention.
Our team led by Prof. Benjamin Tee began studying high-resolution and high-speed electronic skin sensor arrays in 2018. Seeking to find enhanced applications for our sensor technology by combining it with artificial intelligence, we encountered the challenges faced by glaucoma patients and clinicians.
After interviewing patients and clinicians, our team identified several limitations of current tonometry: specialised equipment and personnel, high monitoring costs, pain and discomfort from anaesthesia and corneal contact of clinical tonometry, inaccurate measurements, and regular hospital visits. These drove the ideation of a pain-free, low cost and reliable eye pressure sensor.
Our initial prototype consisted of a 3D-printed sensor holder with bulky electronics. After feedback from clinicians and volunteers, we decided to integrate the sensor onto a glove to make HOPES wearable. We then designed a lightweight, wearable single-finger glove with incorporated electronics into a smart watch design.
For more user-friendly features, we brainstormed and plan to introduce Bluetooth communication to transmit collected data to the paired device for real-time viewing. For HOPES performance, we continue iterating to improve the accuracy and usability by collecting data from users to train our machine learning model. We will also continue to look out for user feedback and clinician evaluations since they are imperative to us throughout the design process to optimise HOPES’ features and user experience.
How long did this process take?
Our ideation started last year. We are currently working on iterating and testing HOPES. It took us about 8 months to reach our current stage.
What were some of the challenges you faced while developing your invention?
Designing the technology into a right form factor is critical so that users of all ages can use it easily with little training. We had to work with materials, electronics and software to make the technology work well in various situations, especially when it is a home use device.
The other main design challenge was to create a non-invasive solution for the user. While GAT requires direct corneal contact to measure eye pressure, we wanted the user to be able to measure their eye pressure easily by simply applying their finger to their eyelid.
Additional eye factors such as eyelid thickness and its properties thus need to be taken into consideration. These factors pose challenges in training our machine learning model.
Additionally, to adapt from bulk electronics to a wearable device, we faced the challenges in product design. We took inspiration from fishing gloves to reduce the size of HOPES. We aim to make HOPES an elegant design, lightweight, and fitted for all.