2020 Student Design Challenge

The RESNA Student Design Challenge (SDC) is an annual competition that showcases creative and innovative assistive technology designs that help people with disabilities function more independently. Student teams represent a wide variety of disciplines including mechanical, electrical, and biomedical engineering; computer information science; architecture; and physical and occupational therapy. Entries are judged on originality, quality of design, and usefulness to persons with disabilities. 

2020 Winners

1st Place
$1,000 Cash Prize 
(sponsored by the Joey Wallace Educational Fund)

An Eye Blink to Speech AAC Device For Users with Motor Neuron Disorders
Lead Author:
 Geeve George
Additional Authors:  Geeve George , Chaitanya KS , Geen George, Dr. Anish Jacob
University: Anna University

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Abstract: Synaspeak is a machine learning based application designed to help paralysed users to communicate by converting their eye blinks into speech. Synaspeak identifies a users eye blink commands using the front facing camera of a smartphone and converts it to speech. It records the eye blink commands in morse code and converts it to english. Additionally, the user can train the Synaspeak application to recognize any custom facial, body or auditory gestures and convert those gestures into speech.

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2nd Place
$700 Cash Prize

Handwriting Assistive Device: Helping People Living with Motion Disorders Learn to Write and Draw
Lead Author:
 Gabrielle Lemire
Additional Authors: Thierry Laliberté, Véronique Flamand, Marie-Philippe Paquet, Marie-Hélène Demers, Alexandre Campeau-Lecours
University: Université Laval

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Abstract: Many people living with conditions such as cerebral palsy, stroke, muscular dystrophy or dystonia experience upper limbs impairments (muscle spasticity, unselective motor control, muscle weakness or tremors) and are unable to write or draw on their own. This project is the development of a new passive assistive device, which aims to stabilize the motion of people living with motion disorders.

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3rd Place
$300 Cash Prize

Prosthetic Energy Return Knee
Lead Author: Benjamin Tham
Additional Authors: Andrew Spencer, Ali Hawkins, Thai Quach, Ben Coe
University: LeTourneau University

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Abstract: Transfemoral amputees do not have muscles responsible for fully supporting their weight when walking and must rely on a prosthetic. Problems with prosthetic knees on the market today are their inability to provide adequate stability, their lack of accurate knee biomechanics, and their cost. The PERK knee incorporates a pawl ratchet locking mechanism, electrical control systems and surface friction damping. The total cost of fabricating the prototype was less than $400 allowing for the potential to be a more affordable high function prosthetic knee joint.

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