Vaccination without a needle? UW alumni show us how their prototype works

The Cobi prototype could help administer vaccines without needles. (Nov. 4, 2021)

A Kitchener-Waterloo startup has developed a prototype for a new way to administer a vaccine and it’s needle-free and fully autonomous.

The device is called Cobi and it has the ability to perform intramuscular injections using technology.

The company behind it is Cobionix. The team works out of Velocity, the University of Waterloo incubator. Its founders are two University of Waterloo Mechanical Engineering graduates Tim Lasswell and Nima Zamani.

Paired with an online component for users to pre-register, it shows their health card, and in a matter of seconds they can receive an intramuscular injection in their arm. It takes under two minutes to reboot.

The intramuscular injection is needle-free by integrating Cobi with other commercially available technoloigy.

“A high pressure liquid, a jet that comes out of a hole about the diameter of a human hair,” said Lasswell.

It’s done autonomously, using several sensors that detect where the person is standing for accuracy.

“Lidar, which gets the depth perception, so it sees you in 3-D basically,” said Zamani.

The team said a device like this could help relieve pressure at places like vaccine clinics.

“For every one healthcare professional working in a clinic, you could have eight robots,” said Lasswell.

“We were thinking about the concept of autonomous robots before the pandemic but we did this application because of the pandemic,” said Zamani.

Cobionix said the plan is to make the robotic arm that performs the injections interchangeable and used for more than just injections down the road.

“We may be able to deploy to do things like ultrasounds or intravenous blood draws,” Lasswell said.

This is just a proof of concept prototype, but Cobionix hopes to one day have this in the hands of healthcare providers to save patients time and help solve any future labour shortages in the industry.