Catalyst Awardee

Project Description

aiKNIT: Programmable wearable devices for the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders

Dr Ali Yetisen | Imperial College London; Sophie Richter
Competition Sponsor: United Kingdom Research and Innovation
Awardee Year: 2023


1.7 billion people worldwide are suffering from the pain of musculoskeletal disorders. This is more than one in four people on the entire planet. The rapid growth of an ageing population is exacerbating this problem, as an increasingly large proportion of people are at risk of living a poor quality of life. The financial burden is massive and expected to reach a global cost of over $100 billion by the next decade.

This demands the development of novel solutions, as current devices are based on old legacy technology and haven’t seen any innovation in years. My team and I at aiKNIT are inventing cutting edge material technology, to design programmable wearable devices that can change their material characteristics such as stiffness and elasticity, to support a patients recovery from musculoskeletal disorders. By designing adaptive knit structures, 3D printed kinematic attachments and an AI enhanced digital workflow, the programmable material characteristics will fit the patient’s anatomical and physiological needs in a highly personalised fashion to facilitate faster and more effective healing with lesser side effects and shorter treatment times.

The first product will be a glove with adaptive functionality, which can be adjusted to the patient’s condition and symptoms to provide care while retaining body functionality.

By speaking to over 20 private clinics and NHS Trusts, we identified private clinics as our beachhead market who have a strong demand for tailor-made solutions and have the financial capacity to purchase and keep devices in stock. We are planning to register the device as a Class 1 medical device and aim to market the device as a medical product for arthritis patients who seek personalised treatment with the added benefits of comfort and aesthetics. We are also planning to build strong partnerships with private clinics and NHS Trusts who, after successfully testing our device, would recommend it to their patients for self-purchase. This is common practice for clinicians and will help us have patients buy directly from our online platform.

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