A first-ever Students Bionic Innovation Challenge for Queensland Universities

Five incredible student teams from Queensland University of Technology, Griffith University and the University of the Sunshine Coast have shared in $15,000 in prizes through Australia’s inaugural Students Bionics Innovation Challenge event.

Student teams presented their early-stage ideas for bionic devices, implants and treatments set to deliver life-changing results. Contestants proposed either ‘new to the world’ ideas or marked improvements in the design, usability and end-user benefits of a device, implant or treatment (or a component of these).

Bionic innovations in this contest must sit within one or more innovation domains – bionic mobility, bionic senses, brain-computer interfaces, and bionic implants and organs.

Bionics Challenge 2022, with the core theme of Innovating with Medical Bionics to respond to Trauma, Related Disability and Disease, saw projects aligned with the all-important goal of accelerating the recovery of motor accident survivors.

Watch the announcement of Student Bionics Innovation Challenge 2022 winners by Mr Neil Singleton on behalf of the Motor Accident Insurance Commission (MAIC) Queensland, the major funding partner of this year’s Challenge.

Check out the announcement video of the Student Bionics Innovation Challenge 2022 Winners


MAIC logo


Montana Samantzis
Montana Samantzis

FIRST PRIZE WINNER – $7,000 plus Mentoring to Progress the Mechanical Assisted Cough Device

Team: Dale Neville (QUT-Based Project Leader), Maggie-May Hornigold, Anna Michael and Sophia Tran 

A primary concern among individuals suffering from a cervical spinal injury is loss of diaphragm function. Currently, there are no medical devices on the market that provide a direct compression or mechanical based solution to assist coughing.

The proposed assisted cough device draws inspiration from the manual cough assist procedure known as a ‘Quad Cough’ or, alternatively, an abdominal thrust. With the addition of a Brain-Computer Interface (BCI), the patient gains control of the assisted cough process. Over time, it will be less likely that a carer will need to be in attendance at all times, with better timing of exhalation achieved via the use of this novel bionic device.

Montana Samantzis
Montana Samantzis

Outstanding Innovation Award Winner – $3,000 plus Mentoring 

Team: Yohaann Ghosh (Project Leader, Griffith University), Frank Feh (Sydney University) and AC Hatcher (Sydney University)

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a common outcome of accidents or trauma (such as road accidents and gun shot wounds), tumour surgery, radiotherapy for cancer, infection (for example from teeth), and interpersonal violence. Without adequate treatment patients are unable to eat, speak or breathe properly ever again.

This team’s pressure transducer enabled jaw stretching device provides a unique, less invasive and simple option to rehabilitate jaw function. A pressure transducer is integrated within the housing of a spring-loaded handheld unit. The mouthpiece is placed between the incisor teeth and gently stretches the jaw open. The pressure transducer then converts the force generated by the device into an electric read-out. This allows accurate monitoring of the therapy and determines the safe amount of force to use.

Montana Samantzis
Montana Samantzis

Outstanding Innovation Award – $3,000 plus Mentoring 

Team: Ethan Thomas (Project Leader), Alexander Snell, Manas Kulkarni and Michael Hall

This team’s goal is to use an Optimally Pumped Magnetometer (OPM-MEG) controlled Brain-Computer Interface (BCI) to develop and test a below-elbow prostheses delivering much improved finger movement.

Wide-ranging control of a BCI-controlled hand is anticipated. A commercial BCI-based prosthetic will open the prostheses market to the neuroimaging industry, expanding the treatment solutions for a range of trauma-related injuries.

Montana Samantzis

Highly Commended Innovation – $1,000 Prize

An artificial sense of touch (via a wearable or implant) that is cheap, lightweight, and easy to use.

Team: Amelia Browne (Project Leader), Juliet Chung and Richard Xie-Nguyen

The design of this bionic innovation requires a sensory receptor attached to a wearable and/or implant to sense what is touched.

Triboelectric nanogenerators (TENGs) and a combination of different sensors will be utilised to accommodate the different superficial senses across the body. This sense will be then sent as a signal through an artificial neuron to an artificial synapse which will create a signal in the brain.

Montana Samantzis

Highly Commended Innovation – $1,000 Prize

Team: Codie Hockey (Project Leader), Jayden Hasse and Nathanial Weiss

Brain-Computer Interface Assisted Recovery from Traumatic Injuries in Conjunction with an upper Limb Robotic Device

A robotic, anti-gravity arm prototype sits at the heart of this innovation that the user can strap to their arm to be assisted with simple arm movements. The goal is to link this device with a Brain-Computer Interface (BCI), to detect a user’s neural activity (while using the anti-gravity arm) and the parts of the brain activated in response to the robotic arm movement.

The diagnostics will be used to judge the severity of the user’s injuries and to observe neuroplasticity in patients relative to likely success of future rehabilitation. The benefit is the improved transparency and knowledge of the brain state of patients, and in turn, improved care and specialised rehabilitation.

Congratulations to the winners of the Student Bionic Innovation Challenge 2022!