Isaac Brain was one half of the duo that took home this year’s BHP Foundation Science and Engineering Award in the Engineering category. Isaac teamed up with his cousin, Mitchell Torok to create ‘aWear’, a smart watch designed to prevent fall-related hospitalisations in elderly people living in nursing homes and assisted care.
The smart watch works as something of a portable call button, which signals to nursing staff when patients are in distress and indicates the patient’s exact location.
“The primary inspiration for this project was Mitch’s great grandmother, Gwen. She lives by herself in an apartment connected to an aged care home. Nurses do check up on her, but if she were to fall over there is a chance that no one would be able to find her for quite a while,” says Isaac. Gwen isn’t a blood-relative to Isaac, but Isaac has a great-grandmother of his own (who lives with her own son) that he could also see this device helping.
The boys also came across other stories of elderly people who had fallen in various circumstances where the ‘aWear’ device would have helped immensely. One person had slipped on ice in their outdoor conservatory in winter, and spent the night injured in the bitter cold. Another had a call button on the wall when they fell over, but didn’t press it so as not to ‘disturb’ anyone.
That’s where another feature of the ‘aWear’ device comes in handy. Mitch installed an accelerometer to the watch which means that even if the distress signal is not sent, nursing staff will be notified of potentially dangerous falls in another way.
Isaac and Mitch undertook the project in their own time, and wrote a 15,000 word report on their invention and process for a school subject called ‘Student Directed Inquiry’. Isaac’s primary skill is web development and coding, while Mitch is well versed in robotics and mechanics. They made a stellar team, with Isaac developing the wireless communication technology for the device and Mitchell engineering the watch and its mechanical features.
“This has definitely been an amazing opportunity and I’ve learned a lot about making a serious product instead of a basic project. It will definitely help me in future endeavours, as I have learned so many new things, such as actual structured web development and using AI.”
Isaac’s advice for other students is to follow your creativity and use it to solve the problems that you care about in the world. That’s what amazed him most about attending BHP; the breadth of creativity among the students’ projects.
“If you see a problem that needs solving, and you have any sort of idea how to do it, just go for it,” says Isaac. “At BHP I saw so many amazing projects covering things I could never have thought of, all solving different problems in creative ways. The more people who put their ideas out there and work with them the more amazing stuff we’ll see.”
“If you see a problem that needs solving, and you have any sort of idea how to do it, just go for it.”
Author: Eliza Brockwell
Eliza is passionate about creating content that encourages diversity of representation in STEM.