Physicians, researches and health care professionals recognize the importance
of understanding the patterns of pain in diagnosis and management of their patients.
Conventionally, the examiner assesses the amount of pain by applying pressure with
the examining finger to the patient's tissue and by observing the graded response
of the patient. This method is severely limited by subjectivity both of the examiner
and of the patient. By contrast, the electronic Palpometer measures the pressure
of an examiner's finger during palpation. This allows for control of the pressure
applied. The pressure applied can be gradually increased and recorded when the patient
first senses pain. This "pain threshold" measurement is far less subjective
then that of the graded response. The nonlinear scale used in the Palpometer is consistent
with human sensory response (Weberâs Law). The pressure sensor used in the
palpometer is a thin membrane and the whole device fits conveniently on examiners
finger. These features preserve the attributes of conventional palpation techniques.
For more information see: http://web.uvic.ca/idc/qp/qp.html
2. A Portable Energy Monitoring Device
Many homeowners rent out a room in their house. Often the room is electrically heated by a baseboard heater and has a separate thermostat to control the temperature. The cost of heating is normally included in the rent because it is costly and troublesome to monitor the electric energy consumed by the tenant. There are energy monitors available on the market but are costly (above $100) and require separate, costly wiring. It should be stressed that supply wires to the baseboard heaters are not readily accessible. This situation can be changed if an inexpensive and portable energy-monitoring device was available which can be easily installed directly on the heater without any additional wiring. In such circumstances, the rent can be separated from the cost of energy used by a tenant and be paid separately. A tenant will have an incentive to conserve the energy and might also use the device on his/her initiative to demonstrate to the landlord the actual cost of energy consumed. To be attractive we anticipate retail cost of the device to be in $30- $80 range. The large demand for such a device is expected in countries where the cost of electric energy is high but electric baseboard heaters are in use.
The device envisioned is smaller than cigarette pack and can be attached to a baseboard electric heater by a magnetic base. It does not require any wiring and can not be removed from the heater without leaving traces of such action. This feature is intended to detect tampering with the device. A suitable sensor senses when the heater is powered and a display shows the total hours of operation of the heater. Alternatively, the display can be programmed to show the total energy used over a certain period of time (say, one month) or the cost of the energy used over a certain period of time. The device can also be used to monitor the total time usage of other electric appliances such a refrigerator, stove etc. The device is battery powered for over one year of operation. Reading accuracy is expected to be approx. 5%.
3. Innovative Curriculum Development: Development of Laboratory in Engineering Fundaments
Students enrolled in Bachelor of Engineering Programs (Electrical, Computer and Mechanical Engineering) came into contact with engineering courses late in their programs. This has undesirable effects: student who potentially are interested in engineering may get discouraged, while some students who are not inclined to engineering discover it too late. Students do not have opportunity to sample different engineering disciplines before making their decision on which program to choose. In addition, the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board recommends more design exposure in our programs. In the past, a new general engineering course for the first year students was considered by the Faculty but was not implemented primarily because of lack of resources and a suitable textbook. This proposal is an attempt to address this serious issue by the introduction of a Design Laboratory Course in the First Year of Engineering.
Students form teams of two persons. Each team is required to implement an engineering artifact according to a provided design. Subsequently, the team will be asked to modify the design to achieve greater efficiency. Each team will be required to purchase (at price comparable to a textbook) of a suitable electrical/mechanical kit to carry out some basic experimentation at a laboratory with open hours. At the end of the term each team will submit a suitable Final Report which will be graded on PASS/FAIL scale. The course will carry 1 unit of credit.
Examples of some possible experiments:
Kit: pressures sensitive material which changes its resistance when a force is applied, simple universal electrical multi-meter (current, voltage, resistance), wires, prototype-board, resistors, Op. Amp. batteries, Basic Stamp Microcontroller.
Task: using the supplies from the kit and other readily available parts construct a device to perform one of the following functions:
The measured quantity must be converted into electrical signal and measured by multi-meter. A suitable formula will be given to convert this measurement into the relevant units and implemented using a Microcontroller. The Final Report should describe a theory of operation of the device, demonstration of its operation, discussion of its accuracy as well as suggested method of improving its performance.
If such a laboratory is implemented it will benefit a large population of engineering students for years to come. This project will also benefit senior ECE students involved in the preparation and testing of suitable experiments.
4. Device for Measuring Masticatory Force
The importance of muscle tension relationship and masticatory force (vertical dimension) to the practice of prosthetic dentistry is recognized as a key element in successful appliance construction. There is a general acceptance that muscles of mastication develop maximal strength while the jaws are related in centric occlusion in equilibrium point of the mandible and at an opening related to vertical dimension. Yet, despite this evidence, there is no device available on the market for the practitioner to measure this physiologic entity. Existing devices are unsatisfactory; biometers are clinically extremely cumbersome and uncomfortable to use and therefore constitute a potential error in their readings. Myomonitors did not measure at equilibrium point, do not provide necessary information, are expensive and therefore did not find acceptance in the dental and denturists community.
b. The main disadvantage of the marketed devices is the difficulty of parallel mounting of supporting squares of maxsilla and mandible under visual control. This stage takes much time for a dentist and denturist in order to achieve the required accuracy. The accuracy is of critical importance since a lack of parallelism in the mounting of the squares leads to an angular slope of the supporting post. This leads to unbalanced force vectors developed by muscles. The incorrect measurements may lead to appliance failure, failure of natural dentition, loss of alveolar bone and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction.
The goal of this Project is to develop a prototype that eliminates the above deficiencies.
In the North America at present time there are 200, 000 active practitioners. For conservative estimate of 10% penetration of this market alone and postulated price for the device in range of $ 500-$700.00, the potential exists for $ 10, 000,000--$ 15, 000, 000 in sales.
5. Undergraduate Students Projects
See site: http://www.ece.uvic.ca/499/index.html