Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


StretchSense excels at innovation awards

Media Release

The University of Auckland

21st  October 2013

StretchSense excels at innovation awards

An Auckland company that has developed wireless soft sensors for applications in healthcare, motion capture, and human-machine interactions has won two major innovation awards.

StretchSense  won both the ‘Innovation in Design and Engineering’ and ‘Emerging New Zealand Innovator’ awards at the New Zealand Innovation Awards in Auckland last night.

StretchSense  emerged from research done at the University of Auckland’s Biomimetics Laboratory  and is run day-to-day by two former students of the University’s Auckland Bioengineering Institute (ABI) and is incubated at the Institute. 

“We use small, light soft sensors for measuring human body motion – linked to a Bluetooth sensor transmission circuit that can be used with an app for android phones”, says StretchSense CEO, Ben O’Brien.

“We can apply it to anything you can measure, because it is so precise and reliable,” he says. “For example, they can be used in rehabilitation applications for physiotherapists to track movement and a changing target over time – such as an improving knee injury.”

These sensors, made of polymers, can be sewn into clothing, (such as a pressure support wrap for a knee), and give real time results and personal information about improvements and exercising.

The company has developed the wireless soft sensors for applications in healthcare, motion capture, and human-machine interactions.

StretchSense has only been operating since late last year, had its first local sales in January this year and in March gained customers in the United States.  In September, Ben joined a New Zealand trade delegation to San Francisco for the week long NZ Health Innovation showcase – his first sales trip overseas for the company.

Ben set the company up with fellow researchers and co-founders; Dr Todd Gisby (CTO), Dr Tom MacKay, and his PhD supervisor and ABI Biomimetics research leader, Associate Professor Iain Anderson from Engineering Science (COO). 

“We’re very grateful to the ABI for incubating us,” says Ben.  This product comes out of the research we did in the Biomimetics Lab and Todd and I left our jobs to develop this and get it out to industry.”

Ben and Todd both have a background in mechatronics with a Bachelor of Mechatronics from the University’s Faculty of Engineering followed by PhD research in the ABI’s Biomimetics Lab.  Ben’s doctoral research was supported by a Bright Future Top Achiever Doctoral Scholarship and in 2010 he was awarded a two-year Rutherford Foundation Post-doctoral Fellowship.

Before StretchSense, Ben’s research focussed on artificial muscles called dielectric elastomer actuators (DEA) that when given an electric charge, change their shape.

Inspired by examples from nature, Ben realised that arrays of artificial muscle actuators could be made to interact in useful ways and without the need for cumbersome control software and hardware.

During his work he invented a novel way to combine actuation, sensing, and logic into one unit: the dielectric elastomer switch (DES). This breakthrough has opened the door to truly soft and intelligent machines.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Shocking Dairy Footage: MPI Failing Our Animals And Damaging Our Reputation

Greens “Nathan Guy needs to urgently look into how his ministry is enforcing animal welfare standards, how these appalling incidents happened under its watch and what it’s going to do prevent similar incidents happening again in the future." More>>


Land & Water Forum: Fourth Report On Water Management

The Land and Water Forum (LWF) today published its fourth report, outlining 60 new consensus recommendations for how New Zealand should improve its management of fresh water and calling on the Government to urgently adopt all of its recommendations from earlier reports. More>>



Welcome Home: Record High Migration Stokes 41-Year High Population Growth

New Zealand annual net migration hit a new high in October as more people arrived from than departed for Australia for the first time in more than 20 years. More>>


Citizens' Advice Bureau: Report Shows Desperate Housing Situation Throughout NZ

CAB's in-depth analysis of over 2000 client enquiries about emergency accommodation shows vulnerable families, pregnant women and children living in cars and garages, even after seeking assistance from the Ministry of Social Development and Housing New Zealand. More>>


Speaking For The Bees: Greens Call For Neonicotinoid Pesticide Ban

The National Government should ban the use of controversial pesticides called neonicotinoids after evidence has revealed that even at low doses they cause harm to bee populations, the Green Party said today. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news