Design Engineering

Canada’s 2020 James Dyson Award winner announced

By DE Staff   

General Medical

UBC engineering team’s sensored IV catheter takes Canada’s top spot in national design contest.

UBC’s Attentiv Catheter (Photo credit: Attentiv Medical)

A team of six University of British Columbia engineering students has won the 2020 national James Dyson Award in Canada. Each year, the international design contest recognizes a national winner, and two runners up, from 27 countries or regions. Those chosen then compete in the international contest, which awards a £30,000 prize. Open to student inventors, contestants are judged on ingenuity, iterative development and commercial viability.

To win for Canada this year, the UBC team developed the Attentiv Catheter, which uses bioelectric properties to monitor IV delivery and automatically signal when infiltration is detected. Catheters are a common medical tool used to dispatch fluids into the human body. However, 23% of adults and 70% of neonatal patients experience IV infiltration, which occurs when a catheter is dislodged in the vein or improperly placed causing fluids and medications to leak into the surrounding tissue.

To solve this problem, the Attentiv Catheter uses a small bioelectric sensors that differentiates between blood and tissue to localize the position of the catheter and determine if it has correctly entered the vein or is outside it. When infiltration is sensed, an alert is transmitted through a wire mounted along the IV tubing and broadcasted to a monitor, alerting the physician or nurse. The onboard algorithm uses the average of the bioimpedance signal to look for spikes or irregularities that may indicate infiltration.

“When researching other existing technologies, we found that most use a patch sensor that is applied to the skin.” says UBC mechatronics engineer, Kevin Ta. “This was not an attractive option to nurses as it would be another item to place on the baby in the NICU. We wanted to ensure our technology was integrated right into the catheter for a more simplified approach that would resolve some of those concerns.”


As the national winner for the James Dyson Award, the Attentiv team has won $3,000 towards their project and will progress to the international stage of the JDA.

Along with the Canadian national winner, the Dyson Award recognized two University of Waterloo runners up who will be entered into the international contest. The first is an electrically tunable lens, made from liquid crystals instead of curved glass or plastic, that enables lossless zooming capabilities for cameras in portable electronics.

The other runner up is the SmartPatrol, a battery-powered pole mounted system that automatically monitors for hazards within dangerous areas of terrain parks and alerts uphill skiers and snowboarders when it isn’t safe to continue down the hill.


Stories continue below

Print this page

Related Stories