Who would have thought that helping to improve the safety of someone with Alzheimer’s would be as simple as putting a pressure sensor in their sock? That’s just what 15-year-old Kenneth Shinozuka came up with when he wanted to keep his grandfather from having accidents and help his aunt get more sleep at night.
Kenneth’s live-in grandfather has Alzheimer’s disease, and like most people with Alzheimer’s, grandpa tends to wander, especially at night. This means constant diligence from those living with him.
Kenneth got the idea that being able to tell when his grandfather got out of bed at night would let everyone in the house sleep a little better. He designed a thin pressure sensor for grandpa to wear on the heel of his foot and covered it with a sock. When grandpa got out of bed at night, the sensor would send a wireless signal to his aunt’s smartphone, warning her that he was up.
And it’s definitely working. In the first eight months of wearing Kenneth’s “Safe Wander” device grandpa has been caught getting out of bed 437 times – a 100% success rate with no false alarms.
Kenneth designed his gadget from scratch, taught himself how to make it, programmed the smartphone app and is testing the system on patients in three residential care homes. Ultimately, he plans to bring it to market. Amazingly, Kenneth still has a couple of years to go before he graduates from high school.
Last year, Kenneth’s invention won the $50,000 first prize at the Scientific American Science in Action Award at the Google Science Fair. He wants to someday cure Alzheimer’s disease.
Kenneth, we’re betting on you.