university of massachusetts amherst

A Cell Phone-Based Personal Computer for Developing Communities

University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2006 - $13,500

This E-Team is looking to address the digital divide between developed and developing countries by creating a low-cost cell phone with PC-like capability. The cell phone will have a general-purpose processor, removable flash memory, external keyboard, and the ability to output to a television. The team is focusing its initial efforts on India, where demand for cell phones is growing and television access is already established. The PI has a strong relationship with Microsoft Research India and Research in Motion, and will work with them on prototype development.

There are other "smartphones" on the market with functionality similar to the E-Team's design, but all come at considerable cost ($500+). The team will try to sell its device for less than $100.

Therapeutic Systems

University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2007 - $16,500

Deep Pressure Touch Stimulation (DPTS) is a method of treating people with mental illness that involves applying firm pressure to the chest, much like the feeling of a hug. DPTS is most often applied passively, using simple weighted vests and toys. This E-Team is developing a DPTS system with more user control: the inflatable system can be inserted into any off-the-shelf vest and can safely apply a range of pressure, helping people cope with their anxiety. The team is also looking into developing a weighted blanket for people with chronic sleep problems.

For the vest, the team is targeting the parents and caregivers of children with autism and ADHD. They have partnered with Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Massachusetts and a local preschool for kids with mental illness, developed an alpha prototype, conducted market research, secured a provisional patent, and written a business plan. With this grant the team will develop and test a beta prototype and continue business development.

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Intelligent Ground and Structural Monitoring System

University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2007 - $14,600

The best way to monitor the condition of load-bearing structures (bridges, tunnels, earthen dams, and levees) is to install sensors to measure things like movement, vibration, and water saturation. A typical instrumentation set-up uses a number of individual sensors to monitor each different parameter at each different location. This can become costly and inefficient, however, if many parameters need to be measured at once.

This team, now incorporated as Condition Engineering, is developing a solution with the Intelligent Ground Condition Monitoring System (IGCMS), sensor technology that can assess multiple parameters simultaneously. The IGCMS provides detailed information regarding structural stability while reducing the number overall number of sensors. The device consists of a sensor driver attached to a sensor rope. The rope is flexible like a garden hose and takes measurements all along its length. Sold by the foot, the rope could be used as a stand-alone device or in groups of tens, hundreds or thousands to provide a widespread monitoring system.

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