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Obstructive sleep apnoea solved

Challenge

Translate an idea into an actual solution.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA) is diagnosed when throat and tongue muscles relax abnormally strong and block the air flow during sleeping. This disturbance not only causes snoring but briefly wakes up the patient as a result of a short suffocation panic. OSA is the most common sleep disorder and it affects over 300,000 people in Belgium alone. Nyxoah’s therapy consists of a tiny neurostimulator implanted in the chin area. The system stimulates the tongue nerve. This keeps the upper airway open throughout the night, avoiding sleep apnoea.
Evidently, the most important part of the system is the implant itself. We designed the method how the implant is anchored to the tongue muscle in a stable and reliable way. In close collaboration with involved surgeons, we developed – during various prototype stages – the optimized surgical tool to improve the reliability, speed and usability of the implant positioning.
How it works

Disruptive solution requires discrete and minimally invasive surgery

The system that the Belgo-Israeli start-up Nyxoah has developed is compact and requires a simple implantation, just under the chin of the patient. This implant directly stimulates the tongue muscles when needed. This keeps the upper airway open throughout the night. The implant itself is wirelessly powered by a small activation chip that the patient wears under the chin on a disposable patch while sleeping.

Charging during the day gives you a good sleep at night

Since most of the complexity lies in the activation chip, the implant is kept simple, giving it a long lifetime. While Nyxoah mastered the required technology, they needed a partner to help create a complete system that guarantees a user-friendly approach for patients, doctors, and surgeons.

Making it easy for all users

Our designers and engineers developed a new solution to charge the implant and wear the device during the night. As a side effect, our designs are patented and are now an important element of Nyxoah’s IP.

Patient confidence through an intuitive user interface

The requirements of the digital interface had to have two main functionalities: continuous and discontinuous pulsing. One big button was provided to set parameters in function of the patient needs. Once the pulse has been given, the display highlights the working of the pulse and provides visual feedback to the operator. We were able to obtain these findings by testing and prototyping our designs by wireframing, clickable prototypes and user insights.
The result
The result is a minimally invasive, compact, comfortable, effective, and affordable solution for patients who suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. This game-changing idea immediately gained worldwide recognition, as it won the Frost & Sullivan New Product Innovation Leadership Award (2014) as well as the World Technology Award (2014).
Generating ideas with a 360° view resulted in a simplified usability. This contributed to the shift from a medical device to a user-friendly product.

Adi Maschiach

Co-founder Nyxoah
Nice to be part of a small international team that is challenging every design detail to create a true breakthrough innovation.

Tim Ruytjens

Senior Manager Industrial Design

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A new world standard in laboratory tube sealing

Challenge

Increased productivity in the laboratory

Terumo BCT wanted to update their T-Seal Tube Sealing Device with an emphasis on usability and efficiency. The new unit needed to take up as little work surface as possible and be quickly interconnected with multiple devices when needing to seal off numerous inline blood samples. This partnership led to a device that not only met these criteria but also boosted productivity in the lab environment and increased sales for Terumo BCT.
Our user-centered approach quickly helped us understand how the technician works in a busy lab and where the challenges lay trough the workflow.
The solution

A more intuitive and compact seal unit

A folding spacing leg can be used to place multiple sealing units next to each other at precise intervals to create different samples. Sizing down the T-SEAL II device allows closer placement for more sealed units, using up less workspace. Data and power can be shared between the units trough cable connections. This ensures that the sealing only happens at the optimum moment, limiting the risk of having a bad seal.
The result
The T-SEAL II is focused on usability. By looking at the individual actions needed and distilling them down we were able to shave off time needed to create sealed blood samples. In a busy lab environment that can drastically increase productivity and decrease fatigue for the users. The simple, integrated, and elegant spacing solution was a revolution in the market and led to an increase in sales and market share for Terumo BCT.
The unique design of the T-SEAL II has become the worldwide standard today

Filip Paeps

R&D Manager Terumo BCT

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User-Centred Design of an Anaesthesia device

Challenge
An Anaesthesia device is a crucial device in an operation room.  Its design needs to be functional, easy to use and – most importantly – reliable in all circumstances. Medec wanted to develop their new anaesthesia device and consulted Achilles Design to guide them through the development process.
We started our design project by analysing the actual usage patterns of the device. Various observations, stakeholder interviews and user scenario explorations therefore resulted in a system design that optimally fulfilled the user needs. Multiple loops of design, prototyping, testing and optimisation led to a functional, affordable, and aesthetic device design.
User-centred design

Getting insights in the process flows of anaesthesia

In order to start the design process, we first needed to get a solid and thorough understanding of the various stakeholder needs, predominantly the needs of the user itself. Being required to analyse, specify, develop, and evaluate the usability of this medical device in accordance with the ISO62366 standard, we focused on designing the product based on actual user feedback.
System design

Hands-on design approach

We mobilised all the creative ability of our engineers and designers and then combined the best ideas into a series of design concepts. From the overall product layout to different functional subsystems such as the valves, our engineers generated multiple functional prototypes that were intensely tested with respect to durability and reliability.
Engineering

Defining every bolt and nut

Extensive experience with multiple manufacturing techniques and assembly principles enabled us to develop a robust and reliable device, while keeping the cost of ownership to a strict minimum. We detailed and designed all mechanical parts for serial production. In close co-operation with the Medec team, we verified that all parts and (sub)systems would fulfil the required quality standards.
The result
Caelus is a compact anaesthesia ventilator with a surprisingly large working surface. The ergonomically designed trolley with plenty of working space and storage room enhances the comfort, while an 18.5” capacitive touchscreen shows all crucial information at a single glance. Its smaller brother, the Aeolus ventilator, is another device that was designed by Achilles Design. It reduces the cost of ownership to a strict minimum without any compromise on usability.

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New horizons in long term EEG monitoring

Challenge

Using the brain in the prevention of severe hypoglycemia

Hyposafe SubQ is a project dedicated to the prevention of severe hypoglycemia. The human brain, which lives primarily on glucose, begins to demonstrate recognizable electric patterns approximately 20 minutes before hypoglycemia. By continuously measuring the electrical activity within the brain, hypoglycemia can be detected, and people with diabetes get alerted before the situation becomes critical. When alerted, the patient can take the necessary action required to avoid hypoglycemia and thereafter adjust his/her glucose level to the appropriate interval.
The hyposafe SubQ technology allows to monitor your brain activity continuously. The challenge is to create a product that is only minimally obstructive as it has to be worn continuously. When designing the external device we had to make sure that the product is as invisible as possible, yet still able to interact with the user, especially when an alarm occurs. Being used 24 hours, the reliability of the product is of extreme importance.
Achilles Design took the lead in the mechanical design & engineering of the external device in close collaboration with Zenso who was responsible for the overall design of the external communication device and designed all the electronics, firmware and PC-based software from feasibility phase up to design and production. Focus on superior quality and reliability was key to achieve the Uneeg quality requirements.
Product Design

Slink design

The product consists of a tiny implant and an external communication device that is connected with the implant through an inductive coil. The final design of the external device is a highly miniaturized flat product that can be magnetically fixed below the patient’s clothes. The magnet has a circle shape allowing the patient to blindly find their way to the button positioned on the inside of his shirt. The optimized magnet will ensure a strong fixation allowing the user to be very active, perform sport etc. An auditory and visual alarm is given in case of a nearing hypoglycemia.
Engineering

Engineered for production

Achilles Design took the lead in all mechanical design & engineering, while Zenso was responsible for the design of the external communication device and designed all the electronics, firmware and PC-based software from feasibility phase up to design and production. Focus on superior quality and reliability was key to achieve the Uneeg quality requirements.
Future vision

And next...

The Unique Uneeg technology can be used to treat other diseases. Identifying the seizure burden for the uncontrolled epilepsy patient. Getting an objective measure of the individual patient’s epileptic seizure burden can be a challenge for the treating physician and it is crucial for guiding treatment. The UNEEG 24/7 EEGTM SubQ will offer medical professionals more accurate knowledge of brain activity and seizure – 24 hours a day.
The result
The Danish company Uneeg succeeded to develop a disruptive system for ultra long-term monitoring EEG. The UNEEG 24/7 EEGTM SubQ is CE marked and ready to offer medical professionals more accurate knowledge of brain activity and seizures. Thereby, physicians gain a solid foundation for optimizeing the use of medicine, thus improving the patients’ quality of life and potentially avoiding seizures altogether.

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