A smart microchip that monitors the health of much-loved pets and high-value livestock - believed to be the first of its kind in the world - has been named a winner at this year's Curtinnovation Awards, which celebrate outstanding research that offers real-world solutions.
The VetChip, which is placed under the skin of dogs, cats, horses and other livestock, features tiny sensors that report on an animal's heart rate, temperature, respiratory rate, stress levels, location and activity, with that information then relayed to the animals' owners or veterinary staff via a smartphone app.
Curtin University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research Professor Chris Moran said VetChip would be rolled out to selected vet practices in Western Australia, Victoria and NSW in early 2022, before being released nationally.
"This smart microchip is believed to be the first of its kind in the world and will offer pet owners and veterinary staff vital, real-time health information about their beloved animals through the use of a smartphone app," Professor Moran said.
"Crucially, this app will help animal owners detect abnormal health parameters and generate warning alerts, resulting in quicker responses and better health outcomes for the animals."
Professor Moran said the team of Curtin engineering alumni worked with Fremantle Animal Hospital's veterinarians to finetune their idea as part of Curtin Accelerate, an intensive 10-week program that helps transform a brilliant idea into a successful business, earlier this year.
"VetChip is a fine example of researchers pulling together their areas of expertise to solve a real-world problem that will make a difference to pet owners, animal lovers and breeders around the country," Professor Moran said.
The team behind the smart microchip, which was named the Faculty of Science and Engineering winner, included Dr Garnett Hall and Dr Maxwell Hall, from Fremantle Animal Hospital, as well as Curtin engineering alumni Mr Zyrus Khambatta, Mr Ross Khambatta, Mr Pendar Dalili and Mr Dilesh Wadia.
The annual Curtinnovation Awards recognise Curtin University's commitment to transforming exceptional research into new products and services that benefit the community, with leading research acknowledged across Curtin's Faculties of Science and Engineering, Health Sciences, Business and Law and Humanities, as well as Learning and Teaching, and International.
Professor Moran congratulated all the winners at the Curtinnovation Awards, saying there had never been a more important time for innovation to thrive.
"From a new device that ensures children suffering chronic ear infections can avoid surgery and a smartphone app that records unique body markings such as scars and tattoos of offenders, to a new virtual learning tool for pharmacology students and an interactive education program about menstrual health, these winning projects have taken a new concept and turned it into a reality," Professor Moran said.
"The Curtinnovation Awards support the translation of outstanding research into new commercial opportunities, products and services, and I am delighted with the calibre of research acknowledged among this year's winners."
Other winners from the 2021 Curtinnovation Awards include:
- Faculty of Health Sciences winner - EarBuddy: treating children with chronic ear infections.
- Faculty of Business and Law winner - Mobile app uses marks, scars and tattoos to identify suspects.
- Faculty of Humanities winner - VITLs: learning difficult concepts in pharmacology.
- Learning and Teaching winner - My Vital Cycles: increasing education about menstrual health.
- International winner - AgriSmartEye: a reliable, low-cost method to analyse black pepper.
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