Blind cave fish
The blind cavefish (Astyanax mexicanus) displays a remarkable navigation ability in spite of its lack of vision that is attributed to the lateral line organ on its skin.
Bioinspiration from fish neuromasts
The lateral line consists of a linear array of slender ‘neuromasts’ that bend in response to the tiniest of flow disturbances in the fish’s surroundings and allow the blind cavefish to map its hydrodynamic surroundings. Inspired by this concept that is optimized over millions of years of evolution, Sencilia develops MEMS flow sensors that are miniaturized and sensitive to very low flow rates, thus mimicking the fish neuromast design and functionality.
Fluid management is an important aspect of critical (and general) care. Accurate measurements of intravenous (IV) and urinary flow rates are essential to gauge the hydration status and maintain the correct fluid balance in patients, especially within the first 24–28 hours of admission. Currently, the flow measurements are conducted manually by nurses, making the process intermittent, error-prone, and labor-intensive, the last of which has especially been brought to light during the Covid pandemic (it has been estimated that one nurse performed an equivalent of the duties of four during the peak of the pandemic in the Netherlands). Studies estimate that over 56% of medication errors are IV-related, and 61% of these errors can be fatal. Further, nurses spend only 20-25% of their time on patient care and around 35% of their time on documentation. Sencilia is currently developing an integrated fluid management solution that will reduce adverse drug events, automate and improve the accuracy of fluid balance measurements, and reduce the workload of nurses so they can focus on more important aspects of patient care. The smart sensing solution is currently under development and will be pilot-tested in the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) imminently.
The COVID pandemic has highlighted the importance of respiratory and pulmonary medical devices. Sencilia is developing sensing solutions that help in diagnosing respiratory disorders such as sleep apnea and can improve the accuracy and reliability of pulmonary devices such as ventilators and spirometers.
Underwater vehicles often have to navigate in turbid waters where cameras are rendered ineffective due to low-visibility conditions. Taking inspiration from how the blind cavefish navigate using the lateral line sensors, or how seals use their whiskers to track prey, Sencilia works with partners to develop an underwater sensing system that mimics the fish lateral line to help underwater autonomous vehicles (UAVs) navigate using flow stimuli from their surroundings.
Sencilia develops flow sensors that are versatile with respect to the fluids they can sense. A network of intercommunicating flow sensors in conjunction with big data analytics can add value to a variety of use cases such as pipeline leakage monitoring (water, hydrogen, oil, etc.), profiling wind flows, airflow sensing in HVAC, and so on. If you wish to explore the utility of Sencilia’s flow sensors for your own unique application, please don’t hesitate to contact us!
Sencilia is an investor-backed, deep-tech, early-stage startup company based in Groningen, the Netherlands. The startup was spun out of the research of Dr. Amar Kamat (former postdoc at University of Groningen and currently the managing director of Sencilia) and Dr. Ajay Kottapalli (Asst. Professor, University of Groningen) who cofounded the company to bring their bioinspired sensing technology from the lab to the market with the mission of ensuring maximal societal impact. The company name is a portmanteau of the words ‘sense’ and ‘cilia’, highlighting the bioinspiration from the ‘cilia’ flow sensors used by fishes for flow sensing. The patented technology underpinning the bioinspired flow sensors was invented by Dr. Kottapalli and Prof. Triantafyllou at MIT, and has been further developed and optimized for over a decade by scientists and engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Groningen. Currently, Sencilia is actively developing flow management automation solutions in healthcare with the aim of reducing intravenous dosage errors, improving the accuracy of fluid balance in critical care patients, and mitigating nurse work load. Amar and Ajay were awarded the ‘Take-off’ grant by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) in late 2020 to explore the technical and commercial feasibility of the venture, and the company was formally incorporated in Sep 2021 following a seed investment by RUG Ventures and Triade.
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Would you like more information about our bioinspired flow sensing technology? Do you foresee an application in your industry? We would love to hear from you! Please fill in the contact form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
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