Lunair and Palmm win 2016 Robert Howard Next Step Awards

Two innovative medical technology concepts devised by Stanford University Biodesign student teams are winners of the 2016 LUNAR-sponsored Robert Howard Next Step award. In honor of long-time leader and friend, Robert Howard, LUNAR will support the winning teams with 100 hours of design and engineering consultation to take their ideas one step closer to fruition. LUNAR President John Edson and Stanford Biodesign presented the awards earlier this month.

The Lunair team—Robert Chang, Kevin Hsu, Jan Liphardt, and Eric Sokol—believe there’s an opportunity to solve a device and user design problem that could help nearly one-third of the world’s population.

Growing levels of air pollution in dense urban areas around the world trigger serious health issues, especially for people who already have allergies and other respiratory ailments. The most effective filtering systems available today are aesthetically and socially unappealing, while more discreet systems provide relatively minimal protection from pollution.

The team developed a soft silicone nose bug with an advanced miniaturized filtering system and internal pollution sensor that monitors and communicates air quality to the user via a smartphone app. Unlike masks and other particulate filtering systems, Lunair’s product is designed to be comfortable, simple, and effective at minimizing exposure to harmful particulates.

Justin Huelman and Véronique Peiffer have pursued an innovative treatment to primary hyperhidrosis, a condition characterized by excessive, uncontrollable sweating of the hands that affects more than nine million Americans. Caused by over activity of the sympathetic nervous system, the current options for treatment are invasive, expensive, and/or minimally effective.

To address this challenge, the Palmm team developed a way to make iontophoresis more convenient, allowing patients to manage their condition with a wearable device that minimally impacts their daily life. It offers greater freedom of movement than traditional Iontophoresis therapy (which requires patients to submerge their hands in a water bath for 30 minutes per day, 1-3 times per week).

“For five years we’ve been amazed and proud of the radically innovative work LUNAR fosters through the Robert Howard Next Step Awards,” John Edson said during the awards presentation. “Robert was passionate about applying design, engineering, and technology to improve people’s lives. It’s deeply meaningful that LUNAR continues his life’s work by helping these projects take their next step.”

We congratulate this year’s winning teams, and everyone who entered the competition.

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