Undergrad team named a finalist in Cornell Cup competition
Rick Kubetz, Engineering at Illinois
- An interdisciplinary team of Illinois undergraduates has been named a finalist for the Cornell Cup USA competition, presented by Intel.
- The team proposed a canine wearable computing device named the "Smart Collar" that could be worn by service dogs to enhance search and rescue operations.
- The competition will be held in May 2014 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. and will give teams the opportunity to win up to $10,000.
An interdisciplinary team of undergraduates from Illinois has been named a finalist for the Cornell Cup USA competition, presented by Intel.
“This year the competition for the finalist slots was the most significant ever, and the Illinois team is one of 30 teams around the US that will compete for $10,000 grand prize,” explained team member Logan Wan, a mechanical science and engineering undergraduate. The Cornell Cup USA is a college-level embedded design competition created to empower student teams to become the inventors of the newest innovative applications of embedded technology.
“Canines and many other service animals, at a system level, are incredibly complex machines with fantastically quick data acquisition, filtering, and processing. They are able to intuitively navigate an unknown environment, and can be entirely autonomous or operate with human-in-the-loop direction.
“They are highly reliable scent detectors, scouts, and obedient service animals. As such, they are incredibly valuable for various service roles that we humans have relegated them to. However, we believe that such capabilities and data can be augmented and improved to add further value to the animal-handler relationship. We propose a wearable computer and data acquisition system intended for canine use.”
Initially, the "Smart Collar" will have GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi, RFID, speakers, camera, and microphone, with modular expansion possible.
“Using these sensors, we will develop an expandable data sensing and acquisition platform intended for service dogs in the field,” Akhtar said. “This will enable new modes of communication and data streams to be sent to handlers for further processing. “
In its proposal, the team described a search and rescue situation: A pack of dogs can be sent out into unknown territory, and when a position of interest is found, a dog can activate a trigger via RFID, and a resulting ping would be visible on the handler's side. Video and audio communications can be opened to remotely determine whether or not the location is worth further investigation.
“This is one of many different potential use cases, as well as military and service animal roles. We see this platform as a means to increase the fidelity of the data that handlers receive from dogs, as well as a means for the animal to communicate in an increasingly digitally networked world in which the ‘Internet of things,’ ‘ubiquitous computing,’ and ‘wearable tech’ are becoming everyday buzzwords.”
The third annual competition will be held in May 2014 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and will give teams the opportunity to win up to $10,000. Finalists earn supporting equipment and technical support from Intel, plus $1,500 cash for project support.