Innovations in health tech
Technology is bringing transformational improvements in health and care. From helping to prevent illness through devices like wearables, to more accurate diagnostic techniques and better, kinder treatments, technology is helping to solve many pressing health challenges across the world.
Our research is helping to accelerate progress in this exciting field by developing safe, effective and accessible technologies that can benefit people all across the world. Core to realising this progress in healthcare technology is our Hamlyn Centre, which focuses on technological innovation with a strong emphasis on clinical translation, resulting in direct patient benefits with global impacts.
Explore a range of our projects to find out how we’re continuing to harness the power of health tech to reshape the future of healthcare.
Highlights from our work in health tech
Xbox tech for safer surgery
With the aid of Xbox Kinect technology, our researchers are developing perception-enabled systems to make surgery safer. Coupling robotics with 3D room mapping, motion capture and gaze tracking, our HARMS lab is working on an intelligent system that aims to ease the burden on surgical teams, for example using robotic scrub nurses that can assist with certain tasks. The system also tracks patterns of behaviour for analysis, such as detecting signals of fatigue, which could help prevent errors by triggering alerts or prompting an intervention.
The team is also applying this framework to develop a robotic system, controlled through a person’s eye movements, which could assist with daily activities for people with severe disability, helping them regain a degree of independence.
Light-based technologies to detect and monitor disease
Our researchers are developing optical (light-based) technologies to aid diagnostics and disease monitoring. One project is exploring a ‘leaky gut’ sensor for non-invasive monitoring of a range of conditions affecting gut health, like coeliac’s disease, and is currently being validated in a clinical trial. The technique uses a skin probe to measure how fast a fluorescent drink enters the blood from the gut.
Another is exploring a new way to rapidly diagnose urinary tract infections by measuring patterns of scattered light in samples. This could lead to more effective treatment and reduce overprescribing of antibiotics.
Imaging for more precise prostate cancer surgery
Residual cancerous tissue is found in up to 38% of men after surgery for prostate cancer, leaving them at risk of recurrence. Our researchers are working to address this issue by developing imaging technology to highlight prostate tumours in real-time in the operating theatre. This could help surgeons to visualise tumours during keyhole surgery, making the treatment more precise.
The project is enhancing an existing probe developed by our partners, Lightpoint Medical. If successful, in future this minimally invasive tool could lead to fewer side effects and mean that fewer men need to return to hospital for additional treatment.
Wearable devices to tackle under nutrition
We’re developing wearable and artificial intelligence-enabled technologies to enable accurate assessment of dietary intake. Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and in collaboration with international partners, the project aims to develop the technology to support large-scale nutritional studies, in particular assessing family nutritional intakes in low- and middle-income countries.
We’re working to deploy and trial our technologies in rural and urban households in Africa, with the aim of providing the evidence we need to guide the formulation of targeted interventions and policies to reduce undernutrition.
Would you trust a robot surgeon?
Robots have been helping surgeons to operate on people since the late ‘90s. Their fine, agile instruments enable surgeons to carry out complex and delicate procedures which wouldn’t ordinarily be possible without assistance.
Although these surgical robots have come a long way since their inception, fully autonomous robots that operate independently remain in the realm of science fiction, with many technical, legal and ethical challenges in the way of this becoming reality. For now, they remain under the control of surgeons. Research from the HARMS lab at our Hamlyn Centre aims to improve the way that these robots interact with surgeons, creating 'smart' systems that can help make surgery safer and more precise. Find out more about our research and the history of surgery in this animation.