If anyone has ever battled with allergic reactions, chances are they’ve needed an epinephrine shot and carried around an epi-pen with them to places. However, there are numerous times people forget their life-saving device at home on the counter or in the car. What if instead we could wear our epinephrine shot?
Now, Rice University students have designed just that with a small, foldable epinephrine delivery device that individuals can wear on their wrist like a watch, or elsewhere on their body. Intended to help with allergic reactions, the device, dubbed EpiWear, has a spring-activated injection system that provides a full dose of epinephrine that helps with reactions.
The team consists of junior bioengineering majors Albert Han, Alex Li, Jacob Mattia, and Justin Tang, and freshman Callum Parks. They said EpiWear is intended for young children and could offer an alternative method to delivery systems currently on the market.
“The idea came from me, because I suffer peanut allergies,” said Tang, who worked on the device at the Brown School of Engineering’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen with adviser and Rice lecturer Deirdre Hunter. “I’m very self-aware and worried about my life, but it was always difficult for me to bring something as bulky and obtrusive as this when going to dinner with friends or just going out at night.”
The team hopes their wearable can offer an alternative that is less expensive and more stylish.
“We designed the optimal device to house the minimal amount of epinephrine necessary for injection,” Mattia said.
EpiWear injects a dose of 0.3 milliliters of epinephrine. Li said the trifold nature of the device and lever act as a safety feature.
“None of the compartments are linear, so the needle would be in one compartment while the spring is in another,” said Li. “Even if the spring were to go off accidentally, it wouldn’t be able to push the needle. We also plan to have a case that goes around the whole device that will prevent the button from hitting anything and allow you to wear it comfortably without risk of triggering it accidently.”
Ultimately, the team realized that the more fashionable the device, the more frequently individuals would bring it along.
“There has been research on which patients carry pens and which don’t,” said Mattia. “We’ve been focusing on the mechanism itself, but some of the ideas we’ve thought about are designing it with cool colors or integrating a watch to make it a dual-purpose device.”
Despite color, the team hopes people who suffer from allergic reactions realize this is a life-saving device, and that will be enough to convince people to wear it.
“If it’s something that’s going to save your life, we think that would be enough to persuade people to maintain it on their bodies,” Li said. “At the end of the day, it’s better to have it on you.”