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Innovation through problem-based learning March 7, 2018

From monitoring labour contractions to predicting injury, first year iBioMed students present meaningful health and fitness applications.

At the Integrated Biomedical Engineering & Health Sciences (iBioMed) Winter Showcase held on February 28, first year students presented their wearable device prototypes for applications in health, fitness and active living.

This was the fourth of five major projects from 29 teams in the new combined program that began this past September

In Dragons Den-style pitch proposals, students demonstrated their skills in computing, electronics, graphic design and materials with devices that incorporate sensors to detect changes in the physical environment and communicate information to the user in a meaningful way.

Prototypes were created using Raspberry Pi, single-board computers that teach basic computer science, as well as various electronics devices.

The project was open-ended, giving students the opportunity to exercise their skills in inquiry and problem-based learning.

“I’m absolutely astounded by the breadth of ideas these students came up with,” says Colin McDonald, Director, Engineering 1 and co-instructor of the course. “They took an open-ended problem and produced solutions that were well thought out, innovative, and inspiring.”

Solutions included a device that monitors labour contractions, an application that predicts injury during exercise, and glasses that alert drivers if they start to fall asleep at the wheel.

“We give them the technical content in the classroom, but so much of the learning happens when they work on their design projects. They’re learning so much more than what we’re giving them.”

Elizabeth Hassan, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering; Jonathan Boulanger, Business Development Manager at The Forge and Ahmed Elmeligi, McMaster Engineering alumnus and HiNT Co-Founder and CEO, were a few of the judges at the event. They looked for ideas that were exciting, realistic as well as pitches that were persuasive and engaging.  

Here are the winners of the Winter Showcase:

Best Prototype (tie):

Rhythmic Motion Analysis for Preemptive Injury Detection – This device is worn around the leg and monitors hip rotation and angular acceleration during exercise to assess significant changes in the pattern of motion over time.

Synaesthetix – Sound to vision glasses for the hearing impaired. This glasses are equipped with sound sensors to detect the direction of sound. LEDs in the peripheral of each lens light up to show the direction the sound is coming from.

Best Pitch:

EyeWatch – A novel design for detecting and alerting sleep-induced attention loss. This device attaches to an existing pair of glasses and monitor the position of the head while during. Changes in rotation that indicate the driver is falling asleep will sound an alarm.

Best Overall Idea:

Mommy’s Little Helper – A labour stage portable device worn around the belly that uses EMG to monitor labour contractions. Labour contractions are monitored for duration and frequency, alerting the patient when it is time to go to the hospital.

The End-of-Year iBiomed Showcase will take place on Monday, April 9.