16 Year Old Develops Bluetooth Smart Solution To Keep Alzheimers Patients From Wandering

Posted on January 28, 2015 by Nanci Taplett

Kenneth Shinozuka“There are 5.2 million Alzheimer’s patients in the U.S., more than 60% of whom wander. Caring for them cost the nation $220 billion in 2013 alone, a number that is expected to multiply five times by the year 2050.”— Kenneth Shinozuka, student at Horace Mann School.

Kenneth Shinozuka grew up in house where three generations lived. He always felt very close with his grandfather.

“When I was four years old, my grandfather and I were walking in a park in Japan when he suddenly got lost. It was one of the scariest moments I ever experienced in my life, and it was also the first incident that informed us that my grandfather had Alzheimer’s disease.”

It was this event that led to Kenneth’s Bluetooth Breakthrough Award entry, SafeWander™—a wearable sensor that alerts caregivers on their smartphones when patients wander. The patient wears the sensor on the foot or in a sock. Once the foot hits the floor, the sensor detects an increase in pressure caused by body weight and sends an alert via Bluetooth® Smart technology to the caregiver’s smartphone.

Kenneth considers himself a techie and his desire to create a sensor-based system came from his life-long exposure to instruments and gadgets in the labs of his parents, who are civil engineering professors.

“My parents encouraged me to think about using them as tools to solve problems. When I was six years old, an elderly family friend fell down in the bathroom and suffered severe injuries. I became concerned about my own grandparents and decided to create a “Smart Bathroom,” an accelerometer-based system embedded beneath bathroom floor tiles that detects falls and alerts caregivers wirelessly on a wristwatch. A year later, I invented a Smart Medicine Box for my grandfather that would alert him to take the right medicine at the right time.”

Kenneth is currently expanding his wearable sensor technology into other products for remote health monitoring of senior citizens living at home alone. Winning the breakthrough awards would give him the recognition and funds he needs to deliver SafeWander to those who really need it.

Other things to know about Kenneth:

He can’t decide which subject in school is his favorite—“If I had to choose, I would still be stuck between English and Science. On the one hand, analyzing literature has always been, to me, a form of discovering patterns between seemingly unrelated ideas and connecting the dots when it appears ostensible that no connection exists in the first place.”

He’s an explorer—“I love exploring, whether it be the Grand Canyon or a tiny integrated circuit. As an Eagle Scout, I enjoy outdoor activities and often attend camping and hiking trips with the fellow Scouts. As a lover of technology, I never get tired of dreaming in my small bedroom about the next big innovation.”

He started his own company—“I formed my own start-up, SensaRx. I recently conducted a beta test at a number of care facilities and discovered new problems that I am passionate about solving through technology innovations.”

In 10 to 15 years, Kenneth sees himself using computer science, engineering and neuroscience to develop innovative tools to explore the brain. Kenneth wants to unlock the mysteries of the brain to find treatments for those suffering from mental conditions to prevent future generations from combatting Alzheimer’s.

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Nanci Taplett

Nanci loves watching the world embrace innovation and changing technology.

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