BME Graduates Go Beyond FYP

by Angela Low

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In the soldering room, Ken had to work with careful fingers to avoid losing minuscule parts.

Biomedical Engineering graduates win the Student Design Challenge 2014, representing Singapore in the finals in Thailand.

A final-year project became the ticket for three Biomedical Engineering (BME) graduates to represent Singapore in an annual international competition in August 2014.

The Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) team, consisting of Chayut Orapinpatipat, 21, Ken Lai Kin Yong, 20, and Sophia Phang Xue Hui, 19, came up with a healthcare product that monitors vital signs, like the heart rate and body temperature of its user.

Known as the Sentinel Active Monitoring system, it comprises a watch-like device, a base station and a mobile application.

Their innovation brought them victory under the technology category of the Assistive and Rehabilitation Technologies (ART) Student Design Challenge (SDC), held in March 2014. Defeating 18 teams from various polytechnics and Institutes of Technical Education (ITE), they won $400 and the opportunity to continue in the finals from Aug 6 to 8 this year in Pathum Thani, Thailand.

Known as the 8th i-CREATe (International Convention on Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology), the competition is organised by the Singapore Therapeutic, Assistive and Rehabilitative Technologies (START) Centre and the National Electronics and Computer Technology Centre (NECTEC). It will feature products by undergraduates worldwide, coupled with an appearance by Her Royal Highness Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, the Princess of Thailand.

The Sentinel Watch, built by Chayut, detects significant changes in its user’s conditions.

“Nowadays, you see the elderly staying alone at home. Let’s say, something happens to them. Nobody would know. So, this watch monitors them 24/7,” says Chayut.

The user’s data travels to the base station that Ken constructed. As for the application developed by Sophia, it receives the data and sends an alert to the user’s caregiver with a map identifying the user’s location. All data can be stored for future retrieval.

“This product was developed from scratch,” shares Chayut. And with that, comes a profusion of challenges, especially in terms of coding and construction.

“If we don’t know how to write the programme, it’s really hard to continue because you need to make it work and there’s nobody there to help you. You must find yourself a way,” explains Sophia, who created more than 20 applications to reach the final version.

Relying on books and online tutorials, they taught themselves coding languages that were unknown to their lecturers.

Besides polishing the aesthetics of the watch and the base station, the team is constructing waterproof casings with the school’s 3D printer to further refine their product.

On a technical front, they plan to increase and improve the features of the watch, enable more watches to be connected to a base station, and eliminate false alarms, in which the watch detects a fall when the device itself could have simply been dropped by accident.

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