Emergency immobiliser for accident victims

Mar 06, 2013

The Centre for Applied Research Tecnalia Research & Innovation has through its FIK initiative designed Varstiff, a smart textile material that can adopt different shapes; when vacuum is applied to it, it turns rigid once again and achieves hardness equivalent to that of a conventional plastic. The material reverts to its flexible state once the vacuum is released. The first product Varstiff will be used for will be an emergency immobiliser for accident victims. Thanks to the encouragement and collaboration of Janus Development, this product has been selected by the Botín Foundation as one of the three award-winning projects in the first edition of its programme "Mind the Gap". To support its launch onto the market a new technology-based enterprise will be set up to operate in the healthcare sector initially, but with plans to expand its activity to other sectors like the automotive or leisure sectors.

The new material designed by Tecnalia can be adapted to any part of the body and in any situation; it can be fitted in its soft, malleable state so that afterwards when vacuum is applied to it, it becomes as stiff as plaster of Paris. This makes it possible in the event of an accident to immediately immobilise parts of the victim's body that are difficult to access without moving it, like the neck, back or thorax.

The funding of 350,000 euros over two years provided by the Botín Foundation through its "Mind the Gap" programme will enable the development of the first two products to be completed: an immobiliser for emergencies, and a position fixator to improve the life quality of people who have to use wheel chairs. The new enterprise is expected to be up and running by the end of 2013 and is expected to launch its first product onto the market early in 2014. Its headquarters will be located in the Basque Country and it is estimated that it will achieve an accumulated turnover of 2 million euros during the first four years it is operating.

Other solutions

This revolutionary material also offers solutions in other spheres of healthcare, like orthopaedics, where it has advantages over ordinary solutions that use elastic straps that are closed using Velcro, or inflatable cushions. These solutions apply pressure and therefore exert force on the skin; and apart from lacking the necessary stiffness, they reduce comfort.

The automotive sector, leisure and sports are other fields in which this material can have new uses to ensure the safety and comfort of its users. In the automotive sector this material will contribute greater comfort and personalisation of different items, like seats that can be adjusted to each person, systems for absorbing energy in doors, or flexible luggage racks. In the sphere of sports, it could lead to flexible items for camping like chairs, tables, mats, etc. Likewise, this material could have a pioneering role in the development of high-performance protection textiles, like for example, clothing for extreme sports or for security personnel.

Explore further: Lifting the brakes on fuel efficiency

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ecotechnology for the smart cities

Dec 01, 2011

This alliance is generating a knowledge base on cities and ecotechnology; it will gradually be joined by various Basque and international organisations and companies capable of coming up with innovative solutions underpinned ...

Nissan demos self-healing Scratch Shield iPhone case

Jan 17, 2012

Nissan today announced the latest piece of must-have kit for the iPhone - a ground-breaking self-healing iPhone case. The Nissan Scratch Shield iPhone case features the brand's pioneering self-healing paint ...

Smart fabrics, the new black

Oct 15, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Smart fabrics and intelligent textiles – material that incorporates cunning molecules or clever electronics – is thriving and European research efforts are tackling some of the sector’s ...

Recommended for you

Lifting the brakes on fuel efficiency

Apr 18, 2014

The work of a research leader at Michigan Technological University is attracting attention from Michigan's Governor as well as automotive companies around the world. Xiaodi "Scott" Huang of Michigan Tech's ...

Large streams of data warn cars, banks and oil drillers

Apr 16, 2014

Better warning systems that alert motorists to a collision, make banks aware of the risk of losses on bad customers, and tell oil companies about potential problems with new drilling. This is the aim of AMIDST, the EU project ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

NotAsleep
not rated yet Mar 07, 2013
This already exists... we've used this technology for years on ski patrol to immobilize body parts

More news stories

Growing app industry has developers racing to keep up

Smartphone application developers say they are challenged by the glut of apps as well as the need to update their software to keep up with evolving phone technology, making creative pricing strategies essential to finding ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.