Penny Morton

Award made: January 2020

Penny Morton, 5th year MEng, Product Design Engineering

See Penny’s summary here

On average 4,400 people visit Scotland’s A+E Departments every day, with 25% of A+E patients in Glasgow waiting more than 4 hours for care. As each hour passes waiting in A+E, patients become stressed, restless, bored, anxious and frustrated with very little to occupy their minds. Incorporating direct or indirect elements of nature into the built environment induces a biophilic response shown to reduce stress, blood pressure levels and heart rate, whilst also improving patient wellbeing. Penny’s project looks to bring an element of nature inside the A+E environment that engages patients passively or actively, by occupying their minds and positively distracting them while waiting.

Penny is building a kinetic aquarium system, populated by biomimetic robotic fish, designed to improve the physical and mental well-being of patients. The system seeks to create an environment of serenity, which helps to moderate the relationship between actual wait time and perceived wait time, perceived quality of care, anxiety level and overall waiting experience.

The aquarium, enclosed within modular tubes, aims to be easily installed and requires minimal maintenance. The modularity will allow each A+E department to choose a unique aquarium set up bespoke to their waiting room. The system could also be used in dementia wards and mental hospitals.

To develop the design for the biomimetic fish and develop a successful modular aquarium system, Penny will make a number of prototypes to test, develop and improve the engineering behind the design. She will investigate the choice of servos, micro controllers, Arduino, infrared sensors, waterproof power supply, batteries, magnets, suitably robust and lightweight material for the fish body, strong material for the fin, LED Lights and plastic tubing.