Besides the general infrastructure offered by the Faculty of Engineering (laboratories, workshops, software etc.), the BERG has some unique equipment and software to conduct world-class research in biomedical engineering. One such technology is the MVN human motion capture system and MVN Biomech software, which is a wireless system for capturing human biomechanics. This technology is unique to South Africa and can be used for a wide range of research activities, such as:
- Virtual reality, training and simulation
- 3D animation and interaction in synthetic environments
- Sport sciences (review, comparison, diagnosis)
- Health, rehabilitation, orthopaedics, biomechanics research
- Ergonomics, biomedical engineering, physiotherapy
- Entertainment, events, computer sciences, gaming
In our dedicated biomedical engineering research laboratory, we also have the XBus inertial sensor system by XSens, which can be used for smaller biomechanics projects or motion capture of machine components. In addition, we have the fast and accurate 3D laser scanner from NextEngine, as well as software (Rapidworks) for reconstruction of scans and to link it to FEM or CAD software. The scanner can be used for 3D scanning of prosthesis or dry bones, or customized mechanical parts. The scanned parts can be combined with medical scans to evaluate designs or generate customized prostheses.
Furthermore, we acquired the Lifemodeler software in 2006 which can be used for numerical simulation of biomechanics. The software simulations are very useful to evaluate designs and correlate with our experimental findings.
We also use Materialise Mimics to make 3D reconstructions and evaluations of MRI and CT scans in our projects. We have several floating licenses for Mimics and use it extensively in our research.
Besides Mimics, we also have a single license for Materialise’s 3-matic, which radically reduced product development time by enabling us to process and change and design upon scanned medical images.
Another nice addition to our lab is the Nexus-10 is a wireless physiological measurement system that can measure a range of parameter over a distance of several metres. In addition to the Nexus-10, which can be customized for many types of physiological measurements, we also have a commercial 12-lead ECG system and many other data capturing devices, sensors, actuators and software. A recent addition that we are very proud of is the laser Doppler Vibrometer from Matrolaser which we intend to use in several of our studies.
The Rapid Product Development Laboratory of the Department of Industrial Engineering also has a wide variety of services and facilities to contribute to research in this area. A set of high end software and other technology solutions have been collected to offer capabilities to research and industry enquiries at different stages during product development. Below shows a summary of some of the facilities that are available in the different categories from Reverse Engineering through Rapid Prototyping (additive processes) to final manufacturing with 5-Axis High Speed Cutting (subtractive process).
Our laboratory acquired the I-Scan system. It enables us to measure both static and dynamic interface pressures in realtime. The wireless capability of the system and wide variety of sensor shapes makes the I-Scan a valuable addition to our measurement equipment: In-sole sensors enable the measurement of foot pressures while body motion is recorded with the MVN system.
The Sonosite mobile ultrasound unit is a laptop size ultrasound machine. This is a valuable addition to some of the in-vivo experiments conducted by the BERG. It has recently been used to instrument a fibre-optic strain sensor in a volunteer’s patella tendon under local anesthesia.