This research theme applies the principles of translational and pure research to take engineering principles directly into the human context through biomedical and sports engineering modalities. Our researchers are recognised world leaders in the field of sports engineering and through our close collaboration with the Griffith health group and Gold Coast University hospital have an enviable opportunity to change the quality of peoples lives.
We draw on expertise in the traditional disciplines in electronic engineering, materials engineering, fluid dynamics, device physics and have attracted the support of national and international elite sporting bodies, the ARC and NHMRC and rising technology companies of silicon valley to be internationally recognises in trade shows and industry awards.
Physical solutions, including exercise, to major health problems have the potential to reduce drug use and improve the quality of life. For example recent studies have demonstrated the benefit of postoperative exercise for both prostate cancer and breast cancer patients. Performance-based assessment of implants and prosthetics can be used to optimise recovery. Monitoring and support systems in medical and sports applications require miniaturisation, environmental protection, low power operations, minimal user interactions and energy harvesting technologies. With an aging population, the development and use of systems which support the quality of life of the elderly in the Australian community require advances in synthetic body, improved tissue engineering, internal and external support systems (eg artificial heart pumps, artificial bone, regrowth scaffolding, internal and external sensing systems, exoskeletal support systems etc.
The Commonwealth Games (2018) provides an excellent opportunity to engage in movement monitoring using automatic cloud-based engineering solutions to develop exercise protocols for both elite athletes and the general population. The Griffith Health Institute and the new Griffith University Hospital provide excellent collaborative opportunities to develop this theme with medical practitioners and other health care professionals.
This theme is well aligned with the Queensland Science and Innovation Action Plan, which has “Early detection, treatment and (ultimately) prevention of age‑related and Queensland dominant diseases (e.g. skin, tropical)” and also “Improving health data management and services delivery (including telemedicine)” as science and research priorities. With large, highly distributed populations, the use of cloud computing for data collection and “big data” analysis is a particularly important part of this research theme.
The theme will bring together expertise in civil, mechanical, mechatronic, communications, electrical, environmental, sports, electronic engineering and medical/clinical sciences, and will encourage major engagement in industrial design, urban planning and environmental sciences across the University.
This research theme addresses the major global research question:
What are the best possible engineering solutions to improve the health and quality of life of all members of the population, and to support the elderly in independent living?
These questions will be addressed through fundamental and applied research and two specific research and development programs, with the option to create new programs as the theme develops.
Human movement monitoring and wearable technologies
While movement monitoring has rapidly advanced through athlete engagement, there are widespread applications throughout the general population. Griffith sports engineering is well known for its contributions to human movement studies and now the benefits of this work are being applied to the wider population including the aged. The use of wireless sensor networks with a variety of sensing systems allows monitoring of humans 24/7 and the processing and feedback from such systems to clinicians, life coaches and the individuals. The engagement of technologies to monitoring humans working in hazardous environments requires the deployment of sensors outside of the protective clothing, the delivery of this information inside the clothing and the development of communications systems to transfer this information off the human to a distant receiver for analysis and feedback. The objective is to translate human sensing capacity across the protective clothing.
The continued engagement of technologies with sport is a vital part of this ongoing research effort for sensor and computing developments and the emphasis in light-weight, low cost, long-life, mechanically robust sensing technologies.
The research requires the infrastructure to study human movement in the laboratory (eg using a multi-camera IR imaging system, a very high speed camera for impact studies, a precision force plate, and autonomous vehicles for tracking humans in the outside environment). These technologies will provide an excellent research platform for preparation and participation in the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and to engage with the Australian Institute of Sport and the Queensland Academy of Sport.
In-vivo systems development
The development and monitoring of systems embedded in the human body has become very important. The reliability of the newly designed heart pump systems, the use of gastro-intestinal imaging pills and the use of biocompatible and/or bioabsorbable porous frames and structures for the re-growth of body parts (bone, soft tissue and complete organs), and the development and analysis of dental implants are leading edge technologies where Griffith University engineers already have prominent roles.
The continued research engagement with the Griffith University Hospital and the Griffith Health Institute (Medical, Health and Dentistry) will allow the rapid development of these leading-edge technologies. The continued development is based in part on the development of novel antenna systems, biomedical materials and implants, three dimensional printing of metals and porous materials (both rigid and flexible) and sub-miniature mechanical and electronic systems.
This integrated program will engage engineers across a number of disciplines to address these challenges and provide solutions.
The acquisition of one or more remotely controlled, unmanned vehicles will allow the in-field tracking, communications, feedback and data storage for human movement studies. The ultra-high speed camera will allow impact studies and vibration analysis of exo-skeletal function. The 3D printing facility will provide the range of platforms not currently available at Griffith University, and will place the Griffith School of Engineering at the leading edge of human systems development. The use of novel imaging facilities ranging from hand held laser scanners up to nano-CT scanners allows to obtain new insights into the microstructure of materials. Thus, new approaches to predict the damage and failure of materials can be developed and used as input for numerical simulation. This will lead to simulation supported experimenting, a new direction in materials testing and development.
Griffith engineers have expertise in robotics for the automated deployment of sensors, the sensor and encapsulation technologies required for this very harsh environment, the radio communications technologies, materials testing and characterization and data storage for the transfer of information and the computer modelling expertise (finite element and volume methods applied to solids and fluids) to interpret the data. The inclusion of a variety of energy harvesting systems for the longer-term deployment of sensors will require the expertise of electrical engineers and sustainable energy technologies.
The research theme requires the strategic investment of research funds, the aggregation of engineering skills across all engineering disciplines, the cooperative upgrade and use of existing facilities (eg the current 3D printing laboratory and the planned 3D printing facility, the expansion of the current multi-camera movement monitoring system, the acquisition of a very high speed camera system, the communications and sensor laboratories, new scanning facilities etc) leading to the sustained support of other research centres of the University (particularly the Griffith Health Institute), applications for research funds from government research agencies (eg ARC), government departments and commercial enterprises.
- EU Horizon 2020 grant on "Novel Cell Migration Assay Based on Microtissue Technology and Tissue-Specific Matrices": 5 European partners and 4 external partners (non-EU). 2015.
- Griffith University Engineering Research Grant, “Biomaterials for tissue engineering, regenerative medicine and
- controlled drug delivery“, 2015.
- Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS), “Biofeedback sensor technologies in sport for skill acquisition, injury recovery and performance enhancement”, 2015.
- International Cricket Council (ICC), “Wearable Arm Action Monitoring System” (Phase 3), 2015
- ACTIONS Centre for Research Excellence - with The Prince Charles Hospital (TPCH), UQ, QUT, UNSW etc. TPCH Foundation, 2014
- SBIR (United States) with Flow Forward Medical Inc 2014
- QAS, Hockey Skills: “A scoping exercise for the viability of an automated ball delivery system”, 2014
- QAS, “Creating Resource Efficiencies through Talent Transfer and Sport Partnerships in Elite Sport: Innovating for the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and Beyond”, 2014
- QAS/Bond University “Activity monitoring and analysis for the project Understanding tendon responses to injury management: implications for optimising prevention and rehabilitation strategies” 2014
- QAS “Instrumented Leg Press” 2013
- Bivacor Inc., Houston, TX. 2014
- ARC Discovery "An assessment of the fundamental size limit for planar antennas using unconstrained optimisation methods". 2013
- QAS, “Strategic analysis of QAS coaching needs for sport science technology innovation”, 2013.
- Jaybird LLC “Algorithms for Activity Specific Monitoring Device” 2013-present.
- ICC, 2012 “The development of a wearable micro technology system to monitor bowling arm actions in cricket. Phase II International Cricket Council”.
- Australian Institute of Sport , High Performance Research fund (AIS) “Efficacy of a Virtual Coach in athlete development, in the absence of qualified coaches” 2012.
- GU Area of Strategic investment fund - Chronic Disease, "HOFA wellness and activity monitoring system" 2011.
- QAS “Wearable Sensors for Elite sport performance assessment”, 2011.
- Cricket Australia “Extension to wearable sensors for illegal bowling action” 2011.
- Queensland International Fellowship "Aquatic accelerometer development for monitoring and encouraging hydro-based physical activity" 2010.
- ARC Linkage, “Development and application of wearable micro technologies for the assessment of swimming performance and activity” 2009.