Parallax Insider News

Parallax & US Army’s TATRC Recognize 2013 MicroMedic Winners!

  • By: Ken Gracey Published: 30 January, 2014 0 comments
On Tuesday, 01/28/14, I had the opportunity to join the US Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC) to recognize three students who claimed about $7,500 of MicroMedic cash. Imagine seeing three young teenagers stand up in front of 250+ students and tell them how they developed mind-controlled prosthetics, bicycle exercise feedback systems and foot neuropathy treatment devices. They presented with ease like professionals, speaking about how they built their projects, structured their code and how they’d improve upon their prototypes. Their motivation was intrinsic - neither prize money nor fame drove their efforts.  
Maya Varma’s Arduino-based Foot Neuropathy Analyzer used a big LED dot-matrix display to show output levels from several Flexiforce sensors embedded in the sole of a shoe. Roger Fachini’s SMERTbike mounts to an exercise bicycle to track and display a patient’s vital signs on a VGA display using the Propeller. Roger connected his project to the projector and put the oxygen sensing mask on his face to demonstrate, causing a positive response. When I asked Roger what he did with the prize money, he surprised me with the “I bought an Eddie robot from Parallax!” comment. Shiva Nathan demonstrated how a NeuroSky Mindwave reader can be used to control a prosthetic arm. While it took Shiva a minute or two to get the arm under control in front of so many people, he passed the Mindwave headset to a volunteer who was quickly able to position and stop the prosthetic arm and hand. Apparently the success of control is all about whether or not you’re focusing in a calm manner. Shiva learned this while training his little brother, repeating “focus, focus, focus” but eventually giving him a gentle smack to set his mind in the right direction.    
This recognition was part of the larger 2014 International Meeting for Simulation in Healthcare (IMSH) event in San Francisco. IMSH is a conference for medical practitioners, educators and researchers who train students using medical simulation devices. You can imagine the number of medical human models, synthesized body parts and interactive medical training hardware/software at this exposition. Some of the displays reminded me of the 1966 movie “Fantastic Voyage” in which a submarine was miniaturized to travel inside of a body. 
All three MicroMedic winners were also recognized in front of 3,000 people as part of the plenary presentation. They were also given VIP status to visit the trade show floor exhibits. 
Seeing how Parallax products were used in this way was very rewarding. To be part of a company that helps others create something greater than the pieces is truly unique. We are also very thankful for the role of the US Army’s TATRC’s ability to run the project. They practiced a lean and productive management of the contest and provided judging review in a timely manner.  
More information on the 2013 National MicroMedic Contest is found here:
- Ken Gracey