The Modern Marvels Invent Now(R) Challenge Names Top Invention of 2007

Enertia(R) Building System

Michael Sykes, Builder, Wake Forest, NC

The Enertia Building System uses milled wooden blocks to eliminate the many materials and labor-intensive steps of house wall construction, replacing them with simple screwed-into-place units that store solar energy. The result is an attractive house of renewable material that heats and cools itself with free, natural clean energy.

Each Enertia house is built with a small atmosphere between the walls and is connected to a sunspace. The glue-laminated wooden structure stores solar and geothermal energy in its cellulose, lignin and resin, which is seeded with mineral crystals to initiate phase change. Over time the thermal energy is released to heat the home. During the summer the process is reversed, and the wooden structure absorbs heat from the appliances and occupants throughout the day, dissipating it at night.

The Enertia Building System can have a significant impact in reducing the burning of fossil fuels and protecting homeowners from violent weather. According to Sykes, the current methods of building, heating and cooling houses damage the earth, and building just one Enertia house is equivalent to taking 50 cars off the road.

First-Prize Winner: SimpleShot

Kim W. Bertron, Consultant, Tallahassee, FL

Co-Inventors: Andy Bertron, Brian J. Boothe, John Wiley Horton

The SimpleShot, is a medical device that simplifies the process for mixing a powder-form drug with a mixing solution in a single syringe. In an emergency situation this device provides faster, easier administration of reconstituted drugs.

Kim Bertron conceived of the device after a medical emergency. Her daughter, who has Type 1 Diabetes, was suffering from a severe hypoglycemic episode and Bertron needed to administer a life-saving dose of Glucagon. As she was frantically trying to mix the drug in powder form with the diluting solution, the needle broke - which she later found out was a common problem among parents trying to administer these sorts of reconstituted drugs. Fortunately, Bertron was able to leverage a back-up kit to deliver the Glucagon to her daughter, but after the incident, Bertron and her husband pledged to create a device that would make administering these drugs easier, so they engaged a few engineer friends to develop the SimpleShot.

SimpleShot has the potential to improve healthcare for diabetics in the home and in hospitals. Numerous medical conditions require a reconstituted drug that could be quickly and accurately delivered with the SimpleShot. In addition to Glucagon, human growth hormone drugs, drugs for hemophiliacs and other biotech drugs require immediate mixing before injection. This syringe has the potential to reduce errors in dosage, save time, eliminate contamination and reduce the risk of needle stick exposure.

Second-Prize Winner: X-Finger

Dan Didrick, Inventor, Naples, FL

The X-Finger is a functional artificial finger that allows amputees to control the movement of each artificial finger independently and as quickly as their real fingers.

The X-Finger moves within the natural range of motion of an actual finger. When the device is fitted to the hand, the movement of the remaining portion of the patient's finger controls the X-Finger's movement.

Nearly one in every 150 people has suffered the loss of at least one finger. The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System estimates that individuals with limited use of their hands earn approximately half of what individuals earn who have full use of their hands. The X-Finger enables individuals to continue to be productive and independent members of society, and due to the simplicity of the design, amputees from around the world and from every economic background may soon be able to afford this form of functional restoration.

Third-Prize Winner: iHearSafe Earbuds

Christine Ingemi, President, Ingemi Corp., Amherst, NH

iHearSafe Earbuds are ear buds that connect to traditional music players and limit the volume of these players to prevent hearing loss in listeners.

A mother of four children under 11 years old, Ingemi sought out a safer alternative to traditional headphones. Hearing loss researchers propose safe volume levels for music listeners, but millions of music players and headphones do not offer volume-limiters that adhere to these guidelines. Ingemi designed iHearSafe Earbuds to limit the volume of audio players to a maximum of 80 decibels, and they have been tested by certified audiologists who confirm their decibel SPL and frequency response times.

The journal Pediatrics estimates that 12.5 percent of children ages six-19 - about 5.2 million people - have noise-induced hearing loss. This invention could have a great impact on this demographic and all who listen to music devices, as iHearSafe Earbuds will proactively prevent listeners from the hearing loss associated with listening to music at high volumes.

Fourth-Prize Winner: DeSat Counter

David T. Krausman, Ph.D., Research Scientist, Principal Investigator and Bio-Medical Engineer, Baltimore, MD

Co-Inventor: Richard P. Allen, Ph.D.

The DeSat Counter is an innovative medical instrument used to test patients for sleep apnea, the occurrence of frequent interruptions in breathing during sleep. This miniature, portable monitor requires no set-up and is simple to operate. It can be used in sleep labs or by untrained patients in their own homes.

Using a simple disposable sensor attached to the index finger, the DeSat Counter measures the amount of oxygen present in the blood. A drop in blood oxygen is a reliable indicator that a significant apnea event has occurred. The Counter itself straps comfortably onto the wrist and displays a tally of apnea events and heart rate. In the morning, the recorded apneas may be viewed on the Counter's large LCD screen or downloaded to an Excel spreadsheet for analysis. Because it's portable and user-friendly, it requires no special training and can be used in the home by the patient.

Sleep apnea is a serious health condition from which an estimated 30 million Americans suffer. Sleep apnea has been associated with many forms of heart disease, hypertension, stroke and death if the condition goes untreated. The DeSat Counter could have a major impact on the diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea by providing a simple, comfortable, accurate and affordable test.

Featured Blogger