Students who study Biomedical Engineering at BCIT know that the program is just as much about helping than it is learning. For years, students within the program have conceptualized and created medical devices that have had a significant impact on the lives of people with disabilities. In the past month, the program garnered some well-deserved recognition for their contributions in the health care industry.

For their creation of the “iMowse”, BCIT Biomedical Engineering students, Taehyum Kim and Alex Chau, were the recipients of the prestigious Innovation Award at the 2015 Medical Device Development Centre (MDDC) Student Awards of British Columbia. The award included a $1,000 prize. These Awards were established to encourage and recognize student innovators in technologies relating to medicine and health care, including medical devices, systems, software, apps and assistive technologies.

The iMowse is a computer mouse activated by eye motions, intended for use by severely handicapped users who have lost all voluntary movement (including speech) as may occur in the late stages of motor neuron disease (ALS). The iMowse device is unique in that is uses the electrical field inherent in the eye as a signal source – a technique known as EOG (Electro-oculography). The device prototype provides basic mouse movement and click functions and could be extended to provide further actions as well.

The iMowse was one of several innovative BCIT Biomedical Engineering capstone projects this year. Like every year, the projects were overseen by BCIT faculty, Jochen Boehm and Bruno Jaggi. Some of the other assistive and physiological signal monitoring projects that were submitted by BCIT students into the MDDC awards were: a vest that helps blind people navigate in a crowded environment, voice recognition systems to control a TV and/or cell phones, and a wheelchair add-on that allows a conventional manual wheelchair to negotiate curbs.