Prof. Dr. Volker M. Koch
Prof. Dr. Volker M. Koch Leiter Master of Science MSc
School of Engineering and Computer Science
Professor of Biomedical Engineering
Deputy Director of the Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Director of the Master's Programs Division
Steering Committee Member of the School of Precision and Biomedical Engineering
Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Medical Device Development
- Volker M. Koch received an MSc degree in electrical engineering and information technology with a focus on biomedical engineering from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (Germany). He obtained a PhD in biomedical signal processing, a certificate of teaching ability in electrical engineering, and a master's degree in management, technology and economics with a focus on innovation management, all from ETH Zurich (Switzerland). He was granted the title Privatdozent (PD) in biomedical engineering from the University of Bern (Switzerland).
As a student, he worked on projects at the University of Waterloo (Canada), the Fraunhofer Institute for Information and Data Processing (Germany), Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (Japan), MIT (USA) and Stanford University (USA). During his PhD studies, he was a full-time research and teaching assistant at the Signal and Information Processing Lab of ETH Zurich and a part-time lecturer at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts. As a PhD student, he also worked at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute (Japan) and the VA Palo Alto Rehabilitation R&D Center/Stanford University (USA).
After being an IT consultant in Zurich, he became a professor of biomedical engineering at the Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH). He participated in and lead several R&D projects in the areas of biomedical instrumentation and devices, including Innosuisse- and Nano-Tera-funded projects. He is the deputy director of the joint MSc in Biomedical Engineering program of the University of Bern (UniBE) and BFH and responsible for the electronic implants major. As the director of the master's programs division, he is a member of the board of directors at BFH's School of Engineering and Computer Science. He is also a member of the steering committee of the School of Biomedical and Precision Engineering of UniBE and BFH.
He is a senior member of IEEE. He was chair of the IEEE Student Branch Zurich, chair of the IEEE Switzerland Section and the founding chair of the Swiss IEEE EMBS Chapter. He was also the president of the Swiss Society for Biomedical Engineering and a founding board member of the Professional Group Life Science of Swiss Engineering. He currently serves as a board member of the Competence Center for Medical Technology (CCMT).
Innosuisse project: development of a scanning tool and analysis platform for evaluation of spinal pathologies and bad postures from February 2021
Innosuisse project: development of a gait analysis tool for ortheses; from Oct 2020
CTI project: DrillMon
Oct 2016 – Jan 2019
High-speed surgical drilling system with integrated nerve monitoring
Cochlear implants are widely used to restore hearing in deaf patients. The implantation can be performed using microsurgery techniques. During drilling it is important to not damage delicate anatomical structures, particularly the facial nerve. Current monitoring systems allow estimating the distance from the drilling site to the nerves. However, most of these devices require stopping and replacing the drill with a stimulation probe during procedure and thus interrupting the critical drilling phase.
Market needs led to a collaboration between Bien-Air Surgery SA (manufacturer of drilling systems), inomed Medizintechnik GmbH (manufacturer of nerve monitoring systems), and the Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH) to develop a system that integrates the electrical nerve stimulation probe into a surgical drill.
In addition to a functional prototype system, test benches and test protocols for accuracy and robustness testing were developed according to engineering standards. New skull phantoms that simulate the biological structures were built as well, allowing to simulate and train realistic use scenarios.
To conclude, a functional prototype that combines high-speed drilling and continuous nerve monitoring was realized. It allows surgeons to monitor nerves while drilling with up to 80’000 rpm without changing tools, leading to improved safety for patients, more confidence for surgeons as well as time and costs savings. Using our test benches, correct function of the prototype over a full-service life was demonstrated. The feasibility of the technology was proven, and the project goals are fully met. The innovative nature of the project even led to a patent which is currently being extended to include the US.
FeetBack (supported by the Inventus Bern Foundation): Nach einer Amputation von Extremitäten können die Gliedmassen durch Prothesen ersetzt werden. Für Handprothesen gibt es drei verschiedene Sorten. Kosmetische Prothesen sind starre Replikate und sollen möglichst natürlich aussehen, damit sich der Träger oder die Trägerin damit wohl fühlt. Body-Driven Prothesen dagegen können ihre Finger bzw. Greifer bewegen, in dem der Träger ein Kabel anzieht oder lockert. Das erwähnte Kabel ist dabei nicht am fehlenden Körperglied angemacht, sondern an einem anderen Körperteil. Somit hat der Träger oder die Trägerin eine relativ gute Kontrolle über die Griffkraft, da der Druck über das Kabel spürbar ist. Die dritte Art von Prothesen sind myoelektrischer Natur. Das heisst, die Prothesen werden über die Muskelströme im Prothesenschaft an der Hautoberfläche des Stumpfes gesteuert. So wird die Handsteuerung vom Benutzer abgekoppelt, was komplexere Griffmuster ermöglicht als diejenigen einer Body-Driven-Prothese. Jedoch fühlt der Träger so nicht, wie stark ein Gegenstand in der Hand gehalten wird und muss die Prothese ständig visuell kontrollieren. Dies wiederum ist ermüdend und führt zu einer hohen Zurückweisungsrate dieser Geräte.
Das Institute for Human Centered Engineering HuCE an der BFH arbeitet an einem Gerät, das an eine kommerzielle Prothese angebracht werden kann und sie um den Tastsinn erweitert. Damit soll die mentale Last zur Steuerung einer myoelektrischen Prothese gesenkt und die Akzeptanz der Besitzer und Besitzerinnen gegenüber ihren Geräten erhöht werden. Nach der Entwicklung soll das Endprodukt gemeinsam mit der Universitätsklinik Balgrist in Zürich an einseitig amputierten Studienteilnehmenden klinisch getestet werden.
Nano-Tera/SNSF project: WiseSkin
Apr 2013 – Jul 2017
Amputation of a hand or limb is a catastrophic event resulting in significant disability with major consequences for amputees in terms of daily activities and quality of life. Although functional myoelectric prostheses are available today (e.g. hand), their use remains limited due, in part, to a lack of sensory function in the prostheses. At the same time, as the world’s population both grows and ages, the number of people living with disabilities, such as persons who have lost limbs for whatever reason e.g. trauma, diabetes or cancer, also increases. A sense of tactility is needed for providing feedback for control of prosthetic limbs and to perceive the prosthesis as a real part of the body, inducing a sense of "body ownership". Today, there is no solution for restoration of a natural sense of touch for persons using prosthetic limbs.
WiseSkin provides a solution for restoration of the sensation of touch. It embeds tactility sensors into the cosmetic silicone coating of prostheses, which acts like a sensory "skin" providing the sensation of touch, enabling improved gripping, manipulation of objects and mobility (walking) for amputees. Flexibility, freedom of movement and comfort demand unobtrusive, highly miniaturized sensing capabilities built into the "skin", which is then integrated with a sensory feedback system. The focus is on non-invasive (external actuation) sensory feedback mechanisms.
CTI project: Development of a respiratory muscle training and testing system
Aug 2013 – Oct 2015
Together with ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich, BFH developed a respiratory muscle training device. Further information of the now commercially available product can be found here: https://www.idiag.ch/2020/der-erste-all-in-one-atemmuskeltrainer/
CTI project: Intuitive and reliable representation of lung ventilation by electrical impedance tomography (EIT)Jan 2012 – 2015 Several ten thousand people each year die during mechanical ventilation. This is due to the fact that the physiological condition of the lungs can currently not be monitored in real-time. Thus, the otherwise life-saving ventilation therapy could lead to severe tissue damage if the ventilation parameters cannot be customized for individual patients.Electrical impedance tomography (EIT) is a non-invasive, radiation-free method to image conductivity distributions within a body. One promising application of EIT is to monitor ventilation in patients as a real-time bedside tool. In this CTI project, we developed algorithms to detect failing EIT electrodes. In addition, the image reconstruction process is compensated on the fly for the failing electrodes and is thus better able to deliver useful clinical data. These algorithms were tested and optimized using an automated test system, which was developed based on an industrial robot. The automation of the test procedure allowed performing extensive, precise, reliable, and reproducible measurements of the Swisstom’s EIT systems using a variety of experimental conditions and system settings. For the real-time assessment of the quality of the EIT data, we proposed the use of a novel data quality metric. The developed metric q was validated using data from saline tank experiments and a retrospective clinical study. Additionally, we showed that q may be applied to compare the performance of EIT systems using phantom measurements. Results suggest that the calculated metric reflects well the quality of reconstructed EIT images for both phantom and clinical data. The proposed measure can thus be used for real-time assessment of EIT data quality and, hence, to indicate the reliability of any derived physiological information.
CTI project: VoiSee
Mar 2012 – Aug 2013
VoiSee ist eine neuartige elektronische Sehhilfe, die insbesondere für Menschen mit altersbedingter Makuladegeneration (AMD) entwickelt wird. Sie ist, im Gegensatz zu herkömmlichen stationären Sehhilfen portabel, weil sie leicht und kompakt ist. Trotzdem ermöglicht ihre innovative Optik eine enorme Vergrösserung und einen grossen Sehwinkel, was bedeutet, dass auf einem Bild mehr vergrösserte Buchstaben angezeigt werden können als bei Standardsehhilfen.
VoiSee wird als Kooperation von der Berner Fachhochschule im BME Lab und unserem Industriepartner, der Reber Informatik + Engineering GmbH, Münsingen, Schweiz, entwickelt.
Member of the managing board of the Department of Engineering and Computer Science (Departementsleitung BFH-TI)
Member of the program management of the Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Swiss Society for Biomedical Engineering: Former President
IEEE: Senior Member and Former Chair of the IEEE Switzerland Section
CCMT: Board Member of the Competence Center for Medical Technology
Language skills and intercultural knowledge
- United States of America