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Alert system for seniors who want to stay active takes first place at 2nd annual Design Competition

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Ten interdisciplinary teams from the University of California San Diego Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) and Cognitive Science Departments presented prototypes of innovative products designed to improve the lives of senior citizens on June 10, 2017.

Written by Julie Yip

San Diego, Calif., June 26, 2017 - On Saturday, June 10, 2017, ten interdisciplinary teams from the University of California San Diego Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) and Cognitive Science Departments presented prototypes of innovative products designed to improve the lives of senior citizens. The UC San Diego undergraduates presented to an audience of  Electrical & Computer Engineering alumni, members of the La Costa Glen senior retirement community and the UC San Diego Retirees Association.

The student teams were participating in the 2nd annual ECE Design Competition. The competition is part of UC San Diego’s  Aging and Innovation Initiative and is the result of a collaboration between the Jacobs School of Engineering and the Stein Institute for Research on Aging.

Read the UT story

The winners of last year’s competition developed a motorized, foldable shopping cart users steer by pressing sensors on the handle, making it easier to handle heavy loads (read more about last year’s competition here).

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An alert system for walkers, created for seniors who want to stay active, took first place.

This year, an alert system for walkers, created for seniors who want to stay active, took first place. Team Kiwi built the system to detect changes in any elevation or cracks in the road with three alert options – audio, vibrational, or LED. When in a crowded room, vibrating motors in the walker’s handles notify the user of an obstacle. At night, the LED lights illuminate the user’s path. 

Gulmira Mustapaeva, a senior electrical engineering major, is a member of Team Kiwi. She was inspired by her own father’s life to sign up for the competition. He had a stroke in his fifties and has had to use a walker ever since.

“I want to make my own dad feel more independent,” Mustapaeva said.

For both Mustapaeva and Eric Waters of SmartSole, the second place team, interacting with the La Costa Glen folks was the most rewarding part of the process.

“I realized that seniors are an underserved community,” said Waters. “They needed someone to listen to their problems and address them.”

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Waters, an electrical engineering senior, and his team developed an integrated shoe insole that monitors gait.

Waters, an electrical engineering senior, and his team developed an integrated shoe insole that monitors gait. Using the device, doctors can more easily evaluate and diagnose walking problems.

The insole has nine data collection sensors embedded that interface with a data collection unit. The unit connects via Bluetooth to a machine-learning program that depicts the person’s walking pattern.

“It’s thrilling to see our students working with senior citizens on real engineering design projects. This is part of our larger Experience Engineering Initiative within electrical engineering and the entire Jacobs School of Engineering,” said Truong Ngyuen, professor and chair of the Electrical & Computer Engineering Department at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. “We are giving students as many hands-on engineering education opportunities as possible, and we are seeing the positive results. Our students amaze me every time they apply engineering and design principles to real-world challenges.”

According to Cathy Geiler, a member of the La Costa Glen advisory board, “Engineers make things work, but it takes a whole team to make these kinds of events work - and that’s from a teacher.”

The team that won third place was Project Purple, and the team that won the popular vote was Team IndeGo (pictured in thumbnail). For more information on the Design Competition Showcase and participating teams, visit the web page here.

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Media Contacts

Deborah Jude
UC San Diego Center for Microbiome Innovation
Phone: 858-534-8390
djude@ucsd.edu

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