Humans are a mechanically complicated species surrounded by a host self-created obstacles that their bodies were not designed to handle gracefully. The result? Bad posture and a plethora of strange injuries that stem from seemingly harmless activities. Unfortunately, since so much of the physical activity we engage in is unnatural from an anatomical standpoint, we have trouble analyzing what it is that causes us to punish our backs, knees, and shoulders throughout the day.
ECE Senior Design team “The 5 Moniteers” (Christopher Arensdorf, Matthew Carey, Shawn Fitzpatrick, Michael Tirgardoon, and Andrew Velasco) hope their IntelliMonitor system will be a positive step toward solving these problems. IntelliMonitor is a personal activity monitoring system optimized for human use that consists of a group of wireless, wearable activity monitoring devices (AMDs), composed of four MEMS sensors each, that interface with the wearer’s Windows Mobile smartphone. By permitting flexible positioning of its nodes, it allows the wearer to see his or her posture and movement in real-time in graphical and model forms that are easily analyzed to determine ways to improve locomotion and posture.
The system also has a number of enhanced features. To improve its corrective capabilities, the AMDs feature vibration feedback that can be set to trigger on specific motions. Also, the device’s data can be continuously sent via a wireless connection to a server for remote observation and analysis.
“Because of its configurable nature,” said Carey, “the IntelliMonitor can be used for a variety of applications. While it was designed with clinical research in mind, it could also be employed in applications like geriatric activity tracking, athletic enhancement, and employee monitoring.”
Though a solid understanding of both electrical and computer engineering drove the development of the system and its devices, it was the areas that they didn’t have a foundation in that truly enlightened the team.
“Some of the greatest challenges that we faced in this project were in understanding the framework of human kinematics that our product was designed around,” said Carey. “We were new to the study of human posture and gait. We had to broaden our engineering education and learn more about this study to be successful. More importantly, though, this enforced the idea that a good engineer must engage in lifelong learning in many concentrations.”