Roughly 1.4 million lower extremity fractures, including 950,000 to the ankle, occur annually in the US. The majority of these musculoskeletal injuries require some type of physical therapy. Because the total cost involved in diagnosis, surgery, or rehabilitation of such injuries amounts to billions of dollars, this E-Team from John Hopkins University developed a low-cost foot sensor that aids patients in recovery.
Research shows that patients recover faster with limited weight-bearing programs, but gauging how much pressure to apply to the injury before doing harm is difficult. The team's foot sensor measured the pressure and alerted patients if they put too much pressure on their injury. Patients could adjust the pressure threshold according to the nature of the injury, the severity, and progress in rehabilitation.
The E-Team consisted of ten undergraduate students enrolled in a year-long biomedical engineering course sequence with skills in computer programming and computer, biomedical, and electrical engineering. The students worked under the umbrella of Homewood Biomedical Design Associates, a university-based corporation. An engineering professor worked with the team, along with an engineering lecturer, the clinical director of Physiotherapy Associates, and the president and founder of Venture Quest, Inc., a management firm.
This E-Team designed an instrument that eases the insertion of implants when using the transaxillary breast augmentation procedure. The device works by holding the implant in an upright position. The first prototype was made out of stainless steel. Eventually, the team planned to test that prototype in surgery and, depending on the results, take it to mass production.
Aqua Vitae Enterprises looked to manufacture, market, and distribute a patented (U.S. Patent #5,593,678) new drug, called Aqua Vitae, that significantly reduces the mortality rate of ornamental and edible fish during the process of handling and shipping from over 50% to under 5%. In the ornamental fish industry, this total loss exceeds $50 million per year. The loss is even larger for the edible fish industry.
In testing, the use of Aqua Vitae has reduced these losses by more than 80% by providing a temporary boost to the immune systems of the fish involved. This E-Team researched the optimal performance and packaging characteristics this industry would seek in such a drug, and developed a plan for bringing it to market.
ADHD InterActive Technologies (InterActive), an E-Team from the University of Georgia, developed an innovative set of PC-based games and exercises designed to enhance the cognitive skills of children suffering from Attention Deficit, Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Currently, three to five percent of all children between the ages of four and thirteen have been diagnosed with ADHD. Present treatment options include both drugs and behavioral therapies. Neither treatment "cures" the disorder, nor do they enhance the development of any mental skills on the part of the children.
Most practitioners in this field suggest that ADHD children are deficient in the following six areas:
InterActive worked with Dr. Malcolm Smith to develop a series of PC-based games and exercises ADHD children can play to enhance their cognitive abilities in each of the above areas. Based on market research, InterActive concluded there is a large and a highly committed market for these products.
The Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) patented an innovative lighting system for encapsulated luminous material, based on the concept of fluorescent lighting. The lighting system is capable of functioning even if a section is broken, which fluorescent bulbs cannot do. In addition, the system is more energy efficient than other designs, by up to fifty percent. The concept required further development, including analysis of materials and methods for commercialization, and the F3 Innovations E-Team signed a licensing agreement with ORNL to continue work on the technology. The team targeted a number of specific areas within the lighting market for this technology, specifically automobile signals, interior/exterior architectural lighting, and commercial signage. The E-Team consisted of several engineering graduate students working with engineering and business faculty and the Senior Development Staff Member at ORN.
This E-Team from the Illinois Institute of Technology developed a safety device for railroad tank cars, many of which carry toxic and hazardous commodities. The cars are equipped with a monitoring device that combines the most advanced tiny chemical sensors with modern telecommunications technology and the internet. This integration allows for advanced warning to loading or unloading sites, thus reducing the risk of a dangerous accident. The device can detect small leaks in the tank car valves and fittings, enabling maintenance before any hazard develops.
When handling a stringed instrument such as a guitar or violin, unwanted jarring of the instrument's tuning knobs can occur. Slightly bumping an instrument's headstock (top of the instrument) while moving about or leaning an instrument against a wall or a floor during break periods can lead to the detuning of the instrument's strings.
With Clutch Knobs in place, this detuning cannot occur. If accidentally bumped, the knobs spin freely without altering the string tension. To tune the guitar, the musician turns the knobs as usual.
Shoes should be replaced when they can no longer provide adequate cushioning; using a shoe beyond its useful life greatly increases the user's risk of impact-related injuries. The Impact Indicator, developed by this Stanford University E-Team, is incorporated into a shoe and monitors use of the shoe and displays its remaining life. The concept is similar to that of the Oral-B Indicator found on toothbrushes, but for running shoes.
The indicator system consists of mechanical hardware, and electronics and software, which reside on a microprocessor. A signal is produced when the user's foot compresses the cushioning mechanism in the sole of the shoe with each step. Runners and other active persons who rely on their shoe equipment to be in top shape can use this product to ensure they are using a safe shoe. The team filed for an international patent and researched a sticker-sized version of the product for distribution directly to the consumer.
Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, 2001 - $1,650
Pin Pictures is another advancement in the joining of art and media for advertising and entertainment purposes. Pin Pictures designs allow for the production of a three-dimensional pin image of a two-dimensional image. This product captures the imagination of viewers and entertains users.
The product is designed to be a novelty item, similar to the Pinpressions found in many stores today. The product is a simple pin matrix. The pins are controlled by a microprocessor and can form a three-dimensional image on the front of the product by changing their position relative to the base of the product.
The E-Team was comprised of three undergraduate engineering students from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
The Virtual Visit project started in the fall of 2000 at the University of Southern California Department of Biomedical Engineering with the support of the Alfred Mann Institute and the USC School of Gerontology. Its goal was to increase communication between the elderly and their families by providing a simple and robust videoconferencing system. The device uses typical consumer electronic items found in most homes to enable videoconferencing without requiring any computer literacy. It uses a high speed Internet and phone connection and a regular television display.
The core student E-Team reevaluated the design, conducted feasibility analyses, determined funding strategies, found strategic partners, evaluated intellectual property protection, conducted a market analysis, and constructed a functional prototype.