Kenneth Shinozuka is a teenager who lives in New York City with his extended family. Kenneth’s grandfather is one of the 5.2 million Americans who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease, and is one of the 65% of those patients who have the tendency to wander in the middle of the night. For confused seniors, these wandering episodes can lead to injury or even death. Kenneth noticed that his aunt, his grandfather’s primary caregiver, struggled to prevent these episodes.
In 2012, Kenneth started developing a device that would prevent his grandfather from getting out of bed at night unsupervised. He ended up creating a pressure sensor that attaches to the foot. When his grandfather put his feet on the floor to get out of bed, the pressure sensor wirelessly delivered an alert to his aunt’s phone via Bluetooth. During six months of testing, the device caught all of his grandfather’s attempts to get out of bed, with no false positives reported.
His project, “Wearable Sensors: A Novel Healthcare Solution For The Aging Society,” made him a finalist in the 2014 Google Science Fair at age 15. Though Kenneth didn’t win the top prize in his age group, his project was the Scientific American Science in Action Award winner. This award is given to projects that solve problems concerning the environment, resources, or health. He also received $50,000 to develop his idea, and will receive a year’s worth of mentoring so that he can help even more seniors with Alzheimer’s (and their families) enjoy safer nights.
Kenneth says that in the future, he would like to study neuroscience and help bring a cure to those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s, like his grandfather. Learn more about Kenneth’s story and brilliant invention here:
This video explains the project for the Google Science Fair:
[Hat tip: Upworthy]