University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign, 2010 - $20,000
This E-Team is developing IntelliWheels, an after-market addition to off-the-shelf wheelchairs that significantly decreases the effort it takes to propel manual wheelchairs. IntelliWheels uses a gear shifting system to make pushing a wheelchair easier: the user moves forward, backward, and turns by pushing on the hand rims on either side like normal, but two automatic transmissions continuously change gears to keep the user operating in the most efficient way possible. This happens automatically, without the user thinking about it or needing to do anything.
The team built one prototype already, but it did not perform well. The team is now looking to build on what was learned from the first prototype and continue the development of IntelliWheels into a viable product and business focused on the US market.
Cardiac pacemakers save lives by restoring and maintaining a normal, safe heart rate for patients with heart rhythm disorders such as bradycardia (a pathologically slow heart rate). But despite their effectiveness, most patients with bradycardia do not need a permanent implanted device because their problem is temporary and reversible: the heart rhythm disruption stems from a procedure or as a side effect of medication. The options for short-term, temporary pacing to overcome bradycardia are, however, flawed: intravenous medications work only for a subset of patients and have limiting side effects; external pacing pads placed on the chest are ineffective and prohibitively painful to the patient. The placement of a temporary pacing electrode through a large vein directly into the heart is the most effective method, but, unfortunately, it is also known to cause potentially fatal complications, including perforation of the heart wall (1-2%) and dislodgement (10-30%).
To meet the need for a safer method of temporarily supporting patients who have or are at risk for bradycardia, this E-Team is developing a temporary pacing system that eliminates the majority of adverse events due either to perforation or dislodgement.
Over three million US children per year are put under sedation in dental offices. While sedation keeps children calm and still during procedures ranging from cleanings to tooth extractions, it also has potentially fatal consequences. Thirty-three percent of adverse events related to pediatric sedation occur in the dental setting, with 91% of the adverse events resulting in death or permanent neurological injury. Further, 80% of the adverse events involved respiratory problems, since sedatives blunt respiratory drive and relax the upper airway musculature.
This E-Team is developing a device that monitors a child’s breathing while he or she is under the influence of sedatives. The small, wearable, disposable device, called PhonoSafe, alerts the dentist of sub-optimal breathing that lasts longer than fifteen seconds. It consists of a microphone placed on the throat at the level of the trachea to detect breathing sounds, hardware for signal processing to isolate the sounds from ambient noise, and software to analyze the respiratory rate and detect apnea (lack of breathing).
Student teams participating in the 2010 March Madness for the Mind exhibition created short videos that tell the story of their innovation. These videos were open for public viewing and voting March 8-19, and over 3,000 votes were cast.
The final 3 team videos, as voted by the public are: