Friday 30 April 2010

SmartChill - No More Headaches

Girton Labs researches and prototypes new methods of healthcare  and pain management.  One serendipitous discovery from the last device  I invented  before leaving Microsoft in 2007 ( ThrillChip  as here, a feedback device for replicating fear in games controllers )

was  to find  new way of reducing the pain for some (not all)  types of headaches, temperature reduction and   sports injuries. Some pain  can be removed by a bag of frozen peas or instant ice  gel coolers (£1 per usage)  but not always to hand, e.g. when traveling and far from home.  The SmartChill ( working project name)  devices uses a Peltier heat exchanger to reduce the surface of the skin by approximately 15 degrees Centigrade.  You can see the Peltier in image below, it is the  square part. One side effect of a Peltier heat exchanger is when the power is switch off , the heat will flow back into the Peltier device, which might be close to the skin.   A novel design of heat sink and fan allows a safe method of chilling the skin and avoids this heating problem. Headaches take about 5 mins to be reduced when tested on a subject. The sensation of simulated  ice on the skin is so relaxing.  The device can be placed on various parts of the body, such as forehead, neck, or wrist.   The device works off 2 x AA alkaline or  rechargeable cells and is charged by USB or 12V car cigar socket. The device will allow about 1 hours operation before recharging.  That  covers several headaches and costs a lot less in recharging than buying and swallowing  pharmaceuticals.  It also avoids paying license fees to pharmaceutical companies.

Safety mechanisms in the built in computer  hardware and software  ensure the heat "sucked out" of skin is dispersed of safety.
Device is also very useful for sports injuries.
A built in recording devices logs the time and date of application of chiller, can download via USB to pc,  so useful for research with working out what or who causes your headaches.  This would work well with clinical applications of Sensecam.

Girton Labs needs a route to market for this, as customers want it. A retail cost of less than £50 is practical.

So what happened to the ThrillChip? It never got patented for intended use as a Xbox  games controller, and after I left one of the UK leading games company wanted to use the technology.  Microsoft choose not to patent it so could not license the IP.

Update:  you can buy this drinks cooler from eBay that has some of the functionality of above as here:

For more information, contact Lyndsay Williams or tel +44 (0) 7970 101578.

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