Friday, 13 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Maureen G. Botros, Kansas Junior Academy of Science, Wichita, KS
The rising rate of childhood obesity is the single biggest health issue in the United States. Inspired by first lady Michele Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign, I decided to tackle the problem of childhood obesity by focusing specifically on kids’ lack of physical exercise. I surveyed 65 kids, aged 5-15 and found that, by and large, kids don’t enjoy conventional workouts. I searched for a means to make exercise fun, while still incorporating a method to incentivize increasing the length and intensity of the exercise. I hypothesized that a fashion accessory that progressively illuminates as exercise intensity increases would be an attractive means to monitor, record, and incentivize physical activity. Since heart rate is a great indication of exercise intensity, my new invention, Illumi-cize, uses a pulse meter clipped inconspicuously on the ear to measure heart rate and send that information to a battery-powered Arduino computer chip strapped to the upper arm. The chip is programmed to illuminate one device at low intensity exercise, two devices at moderate intensity exercise, three devices at high intensity exercise, and finally all four devices if target heart rate is achieved.  The values for the various heart rate thresholds can be set for each individual person on the Illumi-cize website. This is especially critical because heart rate threshold declines with age, especially after forty, and can be impacted by factors like medication and medical conditions. To address the need for long-term adherence to exercise, I added an SD card to collect and store the data Illumi-cize gathered during a workout. The data can be visualized in fun ways that both incentivize and educate, and can even be emailed to a physician. For adults, I developed a more conservative wristband model that provides information on heart rate intensity via a traffic light red/yellow/green model rather than larger fashion accessories. This adult-version of Illumi-cize can be programmed to shine a yellow or red light when their heart rate is elevated beyond the ranges their physician considers healthy, thereby signaling the person to rest. This device allows adults to participate in activities more safely while recording data that can later be exported to their physician.