A mechanical engineering student Andrea Palmer, from the University of British Columbia, has won the prestigious Global Impact Competition for designing a wearable device that can track anxiety levels of autistic kids, that too in real-time. The device, which is called Reveal, can measure three indicators of anxiety. Apart from Palmer, two other engineers and three business students were also a part of the development process. The idea of the device originated from a project which the creators attended in an entrepreneurship-and-innovation class last year.
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What does Reveal Do?
As mentioned earlier, Reveal measures three anxiety indicators which include skin temperature, heart rate and sweat levels. This is done through sensors which are integrated in the clothing. If the anxiety level of an autistic kid increases, a notification is sent to his/her parent’s or caregiver’s smartphone in real time. This helps the caregiver to intervene and stop a meltdown to occur.
Palmer said “We want to reduce problem behavior and increase the amount of what we call, teachable moments.” She added “We knew from the start that we wanted to create something with a real social impact, not just another consumer device.”
— WD Canada (@WD_Canada) April 24, 2015
How was the Process carried out?
Initially, Palmer and other team members were working on how to prevent stress among people in high stress jobs. However, in the process, they realized that with their research, they could help out people suffering from autism.
Majority of the people with autism have high sensitivity levels. For this reason, Palmer wants to embed Reveal directly into clothing. This will make the device imperceptible.
Palmer said “Children with autism can be extremely sensitive about their clothes, particularly to tags and seams that stick out. We initially played with sensors embedded into a t-shirt but are experimenting with other clothing items that would be less noticeable and more comfortable. We want them to be able to wear it without knowing it is there. In the long run we want to be able to present the information to them to help become self-regulating, so they can see when they are starting to get anxious.”
This device by Palmer was recognized as the most innovative proposal in the competition and is expected to have an impact in three to five years. She said that this device could be used for diseases other than autism like dementia and PTSD. With this win, Palmer has got herself a spot in Singularity University’s Graduate studies program.
— CBC British Columbia (@cbcnewsbc) April 15, 2015
What do you think about Reveal? Is this a helpful development? We would like to hear your thoughts.