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Interface is our magazine about current and emerging technologies and markets

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Issue 59: Autumn 2015

Article summaries:

Drug delivery on the go

The world of drug delivery is changing. Diabetes care is a prime example – small, wearable patch pumps are now giving patients the option of more discreet and flexible treatment. But insulin delivery is only the tip of the iceberg for body-worn devices.

Seeing with new eyes

The ability to recognise the things we see around us is something we take for granted. Replicating this ability in machines could allow us to ‘delegate’ a lot of vision-based tasks to automated machines. But it’s a complex challenge.

Pushing the envelope

Push-to-talk (PTT) technology is a simple, low-cost way of keeping in touch at the push of a button. But traditional PTT systems are limited by range and coverage. How do you design, develop and deliver a truly global PTT communication service?

A vital measure

Corrosion is a major problem – limiting the lifetime of assets and giving rise to safety concerns. By considering magnetic saturation, we’ve created a simple, robust sensor technology that can measure the thickness of steel – without removing any covering on the metal.

Keeping one step ahead

Fitness trackers are everywhere. They are affordable, and fitness tracking features are often included as standard in smart watches and other wearable devices. It’s a very successful idea but one that is also fast becoming commoditised. The question is – what next?

A stitch in time…

Latency is often the poor relation when it comes to the measurement of data speed. Yet getting it wrong can mean losing out to the competition – or even make your product unusable.

Diagnostics on demand

The digitisation of industries like music, photography and printing has unleashed an unprecedented level of accessibility and benefits for all of us. So what could the digital world offer in the diagnostics industry?

Spot the difference

Next time you’re wandering round the electrical section of your favourite store, try to spot the ‘feature that sells’ in the products on the shelf. If you design products for a living, this is a particularly interesting game.

A winning combination

In many industries, the delivery of commercial success is dependent on accurately understanding the impact of technology evolution. It’s why the right mix of business understanding and deep technical insight is crucial.

Less is more

Each year we tackle more than 300 engineering, scientific and design projects – creating cutting-edge technology and intellectual property for clients. Yet we are only 500 people. So what enables us to punch above our weight in the world of product development?

Pick ‘n’ mix

From mayonnaise to paint, emulsions are part of our daily lives. So, what if emulsions could be made just when they are required – with stabilities of hours not months? The answer is a paradigm shift in products, formulation and manufacturing.

In double quick time

Design and develop a wearable consumer electronics device – a standard challenge for our consumer product development team. But there was a snag – the device had to be in the shops before Christmas, which was just nine months away.

Emerging success

Emerging markets are predicted to account for a third of global pharmaceutical spend by the end of next year. Their rapid growth will open up new opportunities for pharma companies – with innovation and technology key to differentiating their offerings.

I am connected, therefore I am

What happens as electronic devices reach further into our lives and the ‘Internet of Things’ becomes simply ‘Everything’? The devices we wear, the gadgets we use and the services we consume define our online presence, whether we like it or not.

An apple a day…

The idea of designing biology to suit our specific needs is not new. Mankind has practised this for millennia, using selective breeding of plants and animals. But how do we make synthetic biology an everyday reality?

Issue 58: Spring 2015

Article summaries:

Quality by design

If your washing machine suffers a mechanical failure, it’s annoying. But what if you’re a diabetic and your injector pen jams in the middle of your insulin dose? That’s why a ‘quality by design’ approach is crucial for product development.

No batteries required

Whilst processing power has increased dramatically, battery performance has stagnated. Enter energy harvesting – with devices powered by scavenging energy from the environment or from mechanical actions that are part of a product’s normal use.

Changing places…

When you add milk to your cornflakes, how quickly do they go soggy? This is just one example of ‘interfacial phenomena’ – and testing and understanding them adds an extra dimension to our product development activities.

I can see clearly now…

Globally, about 20 million cataract operations are carried out each year. But can we do better – and ensure all patients have glasses-free vision altogether? Imagine having your vision corrected to a degree that is better than you’ve ever had.

A retail revolution

Innovation is rapidly becoming a 'must have' for the market leaders in the retail sector. But knowing which technology solution to implement is critical to success. You need to consider what the right innovation path is for your company.

Dawn of a golden era?

Point-of-care diagnostics are about to be at the epicentre of two colliding sets of trends in the consumer and healthcare markets. But solutions need to seamlessly integrate into people’s lives – so putting the human at the centre is vital.

The wow factor

Make it smaller, lighter, lower power… oh, and don’t forget the performance improvement. That was the challenge from our long-standing client Northrop Grumman when it needed the ‘wow’ factor to stand out from its competitors.

A disruptive influence…

From connected cash registers to mobile payments, the financial sector is experiencing technology disruption at an increasing pace. A common theme is scalability – using the power of consumer volume to push the art of the possible.

It all adds up

There’s more to numbers than meets the eye – in more ways than one. Applying the right maths can give you a whole new perspective on things you thought you understood. It all adds up to great product development.

Part of the fabric

How a chat in the pub has led to the development of wearable technology that is truly wearable. XelfleX uses very low-cost plastic optical fibre embedded into a shirt to measure joint angles for things like sports training.

A marvel of science

The largely unseen optical fibre that we take so much for granted today is a marvel of science. When a fibre sensor system is implemented well, new users are astounded at the levels of performance that can be achieved.

A healthy dose of protection

Wireless communications are now pervasive in our lives. Just as smart homes are gaining a foothold, medical devices with communication capabilities are also becoming mainstream. But security measures need to be balanced against potential risks.

A new wave of innovation

We have created a glimpse of future disruptive technology – a radio built purely from computing power. Our first demonstration creates 14 simultaneous cellular base station signals. But it is the potential which is so exciting…

You know it makes sense

Current surgical devices make very limited use of integrated sensing, yet the potential for sensors to revolutionise surgery is huge. They could enable even non-surgeons to quickly understand how to execute (simulated!) surgery that is almost impossible today.

Every cloud has a silver lining

Recent years have seen a massive rise in the everyday use of ‘cloud’-based applications such as messaging and data storage. But the building blocks of this revolution can work equally well in other industries – such as communications networking.