Wheelchair-bound individuals frequently use minivans, para-transit vans, public transportation and private vehicles as means of transportation. While their wheelchairs are usually tied down to prevent them from moving during normal driving conditions or in the event of an accident, the individual relies mainly on a nylon safety belt system (similar to a conventional seat belt) that is both unwieldy and frequently disused. This E-Team developed a rigid restraint system mounted to the user’s wheelchair, securing the occupant in position at the level of the pelvis. The restraint is composed of two halves of a mechanical, rigid, padded bar attached to the side of the wheelchair. A ratchet system fits into place around the user’s pelvis, and a spring-loaded release lever allows the user to unlock the restraint from either side of the wheelchair.
Each year, approximately 140,000 patients are affected by deficit of the seventh cranial nerve, which provides signals for the facial expression muscles for one side of the face. Of these patients, about half are unlikely to recover, and many sustain permanent damage to the eye. Current treatments for this disorder include sewing the eyelids together, connecting other nerves to the facial nerve, and implanting gold weights into the upper eyelid. Unfortunately, these treatments can disfigure patients and do not restore dynamic restoration of blinking.
This E-Team is developing a prosthetic device to facilitate blinking in patients suffering from facial nerve palsy. The device will consist of a number of tiny silicon chips that act as both actuators and sensors. The devices will be implanted in upper eyelids, and function as sensors on the unaffected side to pace the actuators on the affected side. The dual sensing/actuating nature of the system will allow the device to sense any recovery of the nerve on the affected side and calibrate itself accordingly. Power is provided to the chips by a device contained on prosthetic eyeglasses with a powering antenna wound in the lens holders, and a battery in the earpieces.
Child loss is a real fear for child caregivers in today’s society. In 2001, the police received 2,000 lost-child cases. Although the majority of these children were recovered within hours, time spent finding the child meant time spent keeping the family in distress. To deter this problem, this E-Team developed Wee Know, a child loss prevention system.
Wee Know consists of two wireless communication devices: one for the child and one for the caretaker. The child’s device, about the size of a wristwatch, attaches to the child’s wrist; the adult’s device resembles a pager. The devices consist of integrated circuits (ICs) that handle all functions of the system, utilizing radio frequency (RF) for communication. The team’s current prototype integrates a RF transmitter and receiver produced by Linx Technologies. To ensure the correct signal passes between the child and caretaker devices, the communication signal must be encoded. Encoding distinguishes the RF signal from other signals that could cause interference. If the child and adult devices get too far away to properly communicate, an alarm signals.
The Wee Know E-Team consists of four undergraduate students in computer, electrical and mechanical engineering. They work with two faculty members in electrical engineering, and a business advisor from the Wesley J. Howe School of Technology Management.
A New initiative Grant Title Creation of an E-Team Prototyping Service Center
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Grant # 462-01
PI Michael Lovell
Item $ Approved
Web development 1,000.00
Prototyping services 3,500.00
Brochures and publicity 500.00
This E-Team developed a prototype for a system that establishes a network of wireless devices within a small area using very low power and RF radio transmission. The transmission distances may range from a few inches to a few meters.
Communication over short distances with very low power creates a wide array of new applications of RF technology. The applications for this technology are diverse, ranging from wireless patient monitoring devices to food safety monitoring for the meat industry. The technology originated in a funded E-Team course EE1185, Microprocessor Systems.
The E-Team plans to develop a prototype and perform a market study on the device. Members of the E-Team are computer and electrical engineering students.
The Microprocessor Systems annual engineering course considers the interfacing between microprocessors and computers in general, which normally leads to communications with and control of many different types of physical devices and technologies. Students are required to consider all aspects of design, manufacture, and marketing. With NCIIA funding, two E-Teams have been generated in the class - Argus and EarTronX. Each E-Team was challenged to design a prototype device for locating lost hearing aids. Both prototype devices included a target in the hearing aid, and a locator implement. The E-Teams presented and discussed each prototype with five industry experts and entrepreneurs and submitted individual designs as a part of national and local competitions. The E-Teams plan to apply for Advanced E-Team funding.