About the solution
The HeartWatch is a blocky yellow contraption that sits on the wrist and uses a light and sensor to track the heart rate. In the event of a heart attack, it is programmed to send a text message to a loved one or emergency services.
“My mom started getting really sick,” Frank recalled. “I’d be scared she would have problems and I didn’t know about it.”
The HeartWatch prototype looks like a clunky wristwatch with a plastic yellow encasing that was 3D printed to fit Frank’s arm for his Ryerson demonstration. There are two microcontrollers that serve as the “brains” of the computer, Frank explained. There is also a memory unit with eight gigabytes of space, a system to send messages via cellular networks, GPS to determine the device’s location, and two rechargeable lithium ion batteries.
When someone straps the monitor on their wrist, a small green light on the bottom flashes against the skin. The blood, being red, reflects that light back into a sensor on the watch and the computer is programmed with an algorithm to determine the heart rate from the changes in voltage that the censor receives, Frank said. The monitor is set to record a beats-per-minute value every time the heart beats twice. The computer then stores this data with a time-stamp, and can be retrieved by sticking the memory card into a computer, Frank said.
The aspect that Frank is most excited about, however, is the device’s ability to essentially call 911.
His mother Lan, is blind in one eye, partially sighted in the other, and has trouble hearing. She’s also prone to bouts of dizziness, has thyroid issues, and was recently referred to a cardiologist for an irregular heartbeat.
“I had an idea of trying to make something that could help her, but it wasn’t until this year, when her doctor said her heart sounded kind of weird … That’s when the idea of a heart monitor came up,” said Frank. “You just hear a lot of statistics about people dying of heart attacks. It’s really scary.”
During the Vietnam War, Lan had an ear infection that festered and went untreated; health problems have persisted and spread ever since. Lan doesn’t go outside much anymore, because of her bad hearing and limited sight, and aside from the odd after-school job Frank has picked up, mother and son subsist on monthly disability cheques from the government.
Adapted from: http://on.thestar.com/2fuCava
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