The Best Ideas Always Come from NextFlex Members
Thanks to all who participated in our Innovation Day events last week, and if you did, you experienced something special. Each year Innovation Day just keeps getting better and better because we listen to your feedback and implement the changes that you suggest. Members asked for a shorter program to allow for more networking time and we delivered a terrific panel discussion that inspired us to continue toward our collective vision that flexible hybrid electronics truly can transform our daily lives. In addition, there were 48 FHE-enabled technology demonstrators on display, and following lunch on the patio, we hosted Technology Hub tours and FlexFactor® student presentations in the afternoon. All in all, it was an outstanding day at NextFlex, and we learned about new FHE applications and systems and made new connections in the NextFlex community.
Earlier in the week, we hosted a half-day symposium entitled, “Monitoring People Inside and Out for Health and High Performance,” bringing together stakeholders in the FHE, medical device, and human monitoring communities. This idea, too, came from members who helped develop the agenda in order to align the presentations to member interests. Participants discussed new and emerging application areas that are maturing to the stage that they may be suitable for NextFlex focus, the current state of the field, and manufacturing capabilities and challenges. The symposium featured seven speakers from industry and academia, and an interactive panel discussion with industry and DoD. This is an important and growing area of focus for our members, and there’s great opportunity to enable applications with flexible hybrid electronics.
The big news that was shared last week is that our Technology Hub’s fabrication facility now complies with FDA manufacturing standards for medical devices, and that our Quality System adheres to the intent of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulations for good manufacturing practices. All medical device products and components produced at the NextFlex facility will be manufactured consistently to meet Quality System Regulations (QSR) requirements. This is a great achievement that we were pleased to share with the NextFlex community, and an important milestone for the Technology Hub.
Finally, and perhaps the best idea that was realized last week, manifested itself in a new event that we called “SweatFactor.” Designed to be a fundraiser to benefit FlexFactor, our workforce development program for middle school and high school students, SweatFactor featured a live trial of wearable sweat sensing devices that were developed by GE’s Research lab in collaboration with Binghamton University, DuPont, the University of Connecticut, UES and AFRL and sponsored by NextFlex and New York State Empire State Development.
These devices, which measure sweat rate and electrolyte levels continuously and non-invasively, have already undergone field testing at the Air Force Academy. During SweatFactor, volunteers each wore a sweat sensing device affixed to their lower back with a mild adhesive and participated in a team exercise session. Sweat sensing device ergonomics and wearability were observed, and raw sweat sensor data was collected for a live assessment of device form factor, fit and function.
When Dr. Azar Alizadeh of GE Research approached us with this idea last year, we thought this could really be fun and educational. And it was! Partner Evergreen Valley College covered all the costs for the event and provided a few student athletes as well. There’s a great video on YouTube about it and I suggest you check it out.
As always, keep the good ideas coming!
Malcolm J. Thompson, Ph.D.
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