July 2009

Axon Potential

Brown University, 2003 - $18,000

Many people wake up to sleep inertia, a groggy condition that negatively affects temper, basic mechanics, and reflexes. While a night's sleep consists of three phases (light, deep and REM sleep), recent studies indicate sleepers suffer from the worst sleep inertia when woken from deep sleep, and the least when woken from light sleep.

Taking advantage of this information, the Axon Potential E-Team developed a smart alarm clock that wakes the user only during light sleep by monitoring eye movements. After setting the latest possible wake-up time, the user goes to bed wearing an eye movement-monitoring band around his or her forehead. The band wirelessly transmits the user's sleep information to the alarm clock for analysis. The device sets a wakeup window based on the information and triggers the alarm only when eye movements indicate the person is in a light stage of sleep.

The E-Team consisted of six undergraduates with majors in cognitive neuroscience, computer science, public and private sector organizations, computer engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering. Four professors with expertise in psychiatry and human behavior, engineering, technology planning, and marketing guided the students.

Update: The team, now incorporated as Zeo, enjoyed several start-up successes. The company raised two rounds of funding as it completed prototyping and preparing for a product launch. Most recently, Zeo was chosen from among forty-five other companies as the winner of the 2006 Rhode Island Business Plan Competition, receiving over $55,000 in cash and services. The company also formed a strong board and group of advisors, including Harvard sleep scientists, the former president of Bose, and several others. Zeo's novel alarm clock has been featured in a number of media, including the Boston Globe, BBC, NPR, New Scientist Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, Providence Journal, Yahoo! News and several others. See www.myzeo.com for more information.

Shuttle-tracking Service Project

University of California, Berkeley, 2003 - $19,989

This E-Team looked to make the UC Berkley shuttle system safer and more convenient by developing a shuttle tracking service. The service provides the location of Berkeley shuttles to students and other riders through a central server connected to the internet. Each shuttle transmits its location data via a built-in GPS device to internet access points situated throughout the shuttle routes. Users can access the location data with their cell phones, through the web, or on public display boards placed near campus buildings.

The team consisted of three students specializing in electrical engineering and computer science, business administration, and bioengineering. One professor of engineering and five industry advisors aided the students in areas of design, marketing, and safety.

Novel Open Ocean Aquaculture Cages

University of Florida, 2003 - $18,950

The ever increasing demands of the world population on ocean resources has resulted in severe overfishing in many parts of the world. Worldwide fisheries cannot meet the needs of the growing human population without the supplementation of aquaculture, but currently available aquaculture cages are heavy and expensive, requiring a lot of labor to transport and assemble. This E-Team developed a novel open ocean aquaculture (OOA) cage that uses pressurized flexible tubes to replace the rigid members of a typical OOA cage. The flexible tubes are pressurized when filled with water; the hose members become extremely stiff and are capable of supporting a tremendous amount of force. Once the water is removed, the members regain flexibility and can be easily transported.

The E-Team consisted of a senior mechanical engineering student, one business student, two faculty members from the UF Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, a faculty member with expertise in business, and one industry advisor.

Light Emitting Diode based Sheet Music and Fine Art Lighting

Swarthmore College, 2003 - $19,085

This E-Team developed a programmable array of light emitting diodes (LEDs) that provide white light with tunable hues and intensities with the idea of replacing the traditional light sources used by two target niche markets: sheet music lighting and fine art lighting.

This diverse and multidisciplinary E-Team consisted of six undergraduate students specializing in mechanical engineering, engineering, physics, English, and photography. Two professors with expertise in optics and electrical engineering guided the students along with four industry advisors.

Piezoelectric Microjet for Drug Delivery

University of California, Berkeley, 2003 - $19,800

Needle-based drug delivery is often painful, has limited accuracy, and typically requires a visit to a doctor's office. Some therapeutics are totally inaccessible to individuals because they can't safely and reliably deliver the drugs themselves. To address these problems this E-Team developed a hand-held microjet drug delivery system to replace the use of hypodermic needles in treating arthritis patients. The piezoelectric actuation device accurately delivers the correct dosage with minimum pain.

The E-Team consisted of three undergraduate students specializing in bioengineering.

Balance Sport Wheelchair

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2003 - $16,400

Wheelchair basketball is among the five highest risk sports for the disabled. Injuries resulting from collisions are frequent during wheelchair basketball because the athletes must not only control the ball and the game, but also themselves and their chairs.

The Balance Sport Wheelchair E-Team designed a less cumbersome, more responsive, and safer wheelchair that employs a simple leaning/braking system to help the athlete control herself. The seat of the wheelchair sits atop a centralized column that passes through a universal join mechanism; the column extends down where it's attached to a braking system on the chair's two large wheels. When the player leans left, the chair turns left; when they players leans right, the chair turns right; when the player leans back, the chair stops.

The E-Team consisted of four students: three undergraduates majoring in industrial design, and one member of the University of Illinois wheelchair basketball team.


Lehigh University, 2003 - $13,500

The FreeFeet E-Team designed a strap-in binding for a snowboard boot equipped with an adapter that allows snowboarders to combine the softer feel of strap-in boots with the more convenient step-in system. Freefeet combines the two methods by means of an attachment that allows the snowboarder to quickly "step-in" to the board while using nearly any boot she wants.

The E-Team consisted of three sophomores and one junior, each majoring in integrated business and engineering, and one senior majoring in finance and biology.

Maglev Train Reproduction

California State University, Fresno, 2003 - $20,000

Maglev technology, first introduced in 1969, uses the principle of magnetism to float a train in the air above a track as well as propel it forward. The Maglev Train Reproduction E-Team designed the world's first toy train that runs on Maglev technology. The train levitates 1 cm above the railway track through the use of standard electromagnets. The train is fitted with wheels, giving it the flexibility to run on a normal railway, effectively demonstrating how Maglev technology can integrate seamlessly with existing railway lines on a larger, real-world scale.

The team's long-term goals, aside from developing a commercially viable and fun toy, are to generate excitement about environmentally friendly Maglev technology.

Location Specific Alarm Relay

Southern Illinois University, 2003 - $8,611

Residential fires kill and injure thousands of Americans and cause billions of dollars in property damage each year. More than 428,000 home fires occurred in 1996, which resulted in a residential fire every 74 seconds, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). By the mid 1980s, laws that required alarms in all new and existing residences existed in 38 states and thousands of municipalities. Systems wired throughout the house are expensive to install and provide only a general alert, while standard smoke alarms are not interconnected. This E-Team's Location Specific Alarm Relay (LSAR) system is designed to be installed in individual rooms, but has the ability to transmit data and can relate the location of smoke in the event of a fire. For example, the existence of smoke in the basement will be relayed to the second floor bedroom through a combined horn and voice alarm.

The NSH Keg Wrap

Case Western Reserve University, 2003 - $20,000

The NSH Keg Wrap E-Team developed an electric wrap that keeps kegs cool without ice. The portable product, which wraps around any keg and can be plugged in to any household outlet, employs the Peltier Effect: the ability to cool or heat a material by passing a current through the junction of two different conductors.

The team intends to target beer distributors, who will then rent the Keg Wrap to consumers. They have calculated a potential market of over 2,500 beer wholesalers in the US.