Finalist 2022



A disruptive platform technology that enables MCS teams to accelerate development of total artificial hearts

Cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the world. To help address this issue, there is an ongoing need to develop smarter and safer artificial hearts (mechanical pump technologies) that can assist or replace damaged hearts in both adults and children. These pumps, including Ventricular Assist Devices (VAD) and Total Artificial Hearts (TAH), are broadly classified as Mechanical Circulatory Support (MCS) devices. LUDO is a first-of-kind platform technology that enables companies around the world to more efficiently develop their next-generation MCS devices, from the lab bench through to implanted solutions.

Design Brief:

Hydrix has been assisting global companies develop MCS technologies for more than a decade. Through this experience, we understand that MCS innovators are typically focussed on developing and testing their core IP, artificial hearts, solving many well-known challenges including reducing damage to blood cells which can lead to gastro-intestinal bleeding, improving power supply and management challenges, and developing more sophisticated device intelligence/feedback. People fitted with MCS devices wear external power supply and complex control systems that keep the device functioning in all situations. For example, a seemingly mundane activity such as sleeping to sitting to getting out of bed requires sophisticated analysis, feedback, and system control and management. Hydrix identified a need to develop a platform that provides the fundamental building blocks to help researchers develop these complex control systems, giving MCS developers more freedom to focus on their core pump challenges and allow them to develop and test sooner.

This project was developed by:

Design Process

The LUDO system was developed by professional engineers, designers, and scientists to meet the key requirements of Total Artificial Heart development community. It was designed to control a range of pump technologies for any medical device design including rotary and reciprocating devices driven via electric motors, pneumatics or hydraulics, from research programs and early-stage pump refinement to clinical system development. LUDO combines Safety Critical Architecture, proven subsystems and software modules, and a configurable, compact controller box enabling developers greater development flexibility in refining their unique pump.

The controller includes:

  • Architecture and components suitable for a future Class III medical device
  • Feature sets enabling ease of integration of physiological and motor control algorithms
  • Sensor inputs/outputs
  • Programmable LED indicators & switches
  • Data streaming to the LUDO User Application

The entire system was developed with end-users in mind, with user/industry feedback gathered and assessed as part of the development process.

Design Excellence

LUDO is a configurable, customised platform, tailored to the specific requirements of individual developer's needs. Substantial design and engineering effort was applied to create a resolved system solution that has been praised for the quality of its realisation, and how it sets a new benchmark for development tools in what remains a nascent industry. Significant acknowledgement has been given to the LUDO User Application (GUI) and it's usability. It is a fully resolved design solution, with usability features representative of high-end software programs, including:

  • Data visibility in real time and data logging
  • Event & fault extracts from the device
  • Configurable physiological and motor control parameters
  • Customisable dashboards to monitor tests and trials

LUDO was officially launched late last year and is being marketed globally. It has been demonstrated at a number of international cardiovascular trade events over the past 6 months. It continues to garner praise for its innovative tool sets and functionality, and its sophisticated design.

Design Innovation

As a platform technology, LUDO represents significant innovative steps in software and firmware design, a configurable user interface, housed within a professional and elegant controller (enclosure) that has been designed for maximum research flexibility. Some of the key innovations includes enabling researchers and developers to:

  • Run their unique pump control algorithms and have their pump running in less than two weeks – a significantly reduced time period
  • Achieve clinical performance of pumps sooner
  • Focus durability testing on the pump, not the infrastructure
  • Achieve testing flexibility while maintaining real-time feedback
  • Achieve meaningful data capture & analysis in early development stages

The electronics architecture allows for additional daughter boards to be added, integrated display and I/O customisation. Once the system is configured, researchers and developers have significant control parameter flexibility, tailorable via the custom user interface. As a platform technology, LUDO represents a significant innovative step for the industry.

Design Impact

LUDO helps reinforce Melbourne as a global centre of excellence in cardiovascular research and development. It has enabled development work from companies in Europe US, and other Australian states to come to Victoria. Technology from the platform is also being made available to university students globally through a number of schemes to help promote and foster innovation in cardiovascular design through a program launched by Monash University called the Heart Hackathon.

Circular Design and Sustainability Features

LUDO is a high performance, low volume product designed for long, highly reliable service in development programs. It is designed for simple reassembly and reconfiguration as MCS development technical requirements change. It has a modular aspect for upgrades and the electronics design allows for components to be updated or replaced to ensure the platform supports latest technologies. It is a rugged device, developed for complex, evoloving, multi-year programs.

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