The sKan is James Dyson Award 2017 International Winner
The sKan is James Dyson Award 2017 International Winner
Dyson award-winning device can scan for skin cancer at a fraction of usual cost
10 November, 2017, 05:03
With 132,000 instances of melanoma cancers occurring globally each year, a new device developed by four Canadian-based engineers that can cheaply and accurately detect it on a person's skin has won this year's global James Dyson Award. By introducing thermal shock by way of an ice pack to an area, and then measuring to see if any areas heat back up significantly quicker, the Skan device can detect the presence of cancerous cells.
By incorporating an array of accurate and low-cost thermistors, the sKan is placed on a part of the skin that shows potential signs of melanoma and then tracks its return to ambient temperature after being cooled. "That said, it is more important - now than ever before - to check for signs of skin cancer".
A team of medical and bioengineering undergraduates from McMaster University, Canada have been chosen as the global James Dyson Award 2017 winners. However, early detection of the cancer is usually reliant on a visual inspection by a physician, which is often inaccurate, while more advanced methods such as high resolution thermal imaging cameras can cost over £20,000. The sKan uses thermistors, i.e. thermally sensitive resistors, to spot if a suspect mole or lesion is malignant through thermal heat mapping. If there's a melanoma present, it will warm up faster than the surrounding skin, revealing itself on a heat map and temperature difference time plot created through a connected computer program.
The team's British benefactor James Dyson, best known for inventing a bagless vacuum, says in a statement that he chose the sKan because of its "potential to save lives around the world".
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The device costs less than $1,000 (£760), compared with £20,000 for high-resolution thermal imaging cameras now available, and could save thousands of lives by confirming the presence of cancer before biopsy procedures, the team said. "This is why I have selected it as this year's worldwide victor". As the victor of this prestigious award, sKan, which was created by a group of four inspiring engineering undergrads at Ontario's McMaster University, will receive $40,000 to further develop their tool, seek FDA approval, and ultimately bring the tool into the world for use. "The prize money will help us to continue developing a medical device that can saves people's lives".
Two runners-up have also been awarded £5,000 to develop their products.
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