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IdealTap takes $25,000 prize in 2015 Discovery Competition

IdealTap, a medical device that would make spinal taps easier and more efficient for the patient and physician, has won $25,000 in cash in the 2015 Discovery Competition in the School of Engineering & Applied Science.

Matthew Burkhardt and Mason Meiners of the IdealTap team demonstrate their prototype for the judges at the April 24 presentations.

Volt Optics, which created a new form of glasses called temporal glasses, took second place and received $10,000. Intelli-Write, which is designing a device that would capture and transfer what a professor is writing on a blackboard to students' tablets, took third place and will receive $7,500 in in-kind legal services from the Polsinelli law firm.

The IdealTap team has developed a chair that can rotate a patient from a seated, upright position during a spinal tap procedure to lying on his or her side without the need for extra personnel or tools. Team members are Matthew Burkhardt, a senior majoring in applied science (systems science & engineering) with a minor in biology; Mason Meiners, a senior majoring in mechanical engineering with minors in finance and energy engineering; Yuni Teh, a senior majoring in biomedical engineering and applied science (electrical engineering); Lindsay Kaminski, a senior majoring in marketing and entrepreneurship in the Olin Business School with a minor in art; and Esther Koh, a junior majoring in finance and healthcare management.

The Volt Optics team says temporals will have the same benefits of varifocals, which have close and distance prescriptions in one lens. Using a process called electrowetting, these fluid filled lenses will use volumetric fluid extraction through an electrocapillary effect to, in real time, change the prescription throughout the lens of the glasses based upon where the wearer is looking. Team members are Nicholas Gaudio, a freshman majoring in biomedical and electrical engineering; Tony Li, a senior majoring in electrical engineering and applied science (systems science & engineering) with a minor in biology; Peter Rand, a junior majoring in applied science (mechanical engineering) and chemistry; and Gregg Willcox, a sophomore majoring in applied science (systems science & engineering) and physics.

The Intelli-Write team is combining use of nine-axis accelerometer and optical sensor for handwriting detection with the intelligent programming with machine-learning ability. Team members are Zhengtao Ji, a senior in the BS/MS program in electrical engineering and also earning the graduate certificate in imaging science and engineering; Shangqing Li, a senior majoring in applied science (computer science); Pan (Abby) Zhu, a senior majoring in mathematics and comparative literature with a minor in design; and Pu Chai, a junior majoring in electrical engineering.

video Read more about the Discovery Competition and the 2014 winning teams.

Inspiring Innovation

  • A medical device to make spinal taps easier and more efficient won first place and $25,000.
  • A new form of eyeglasses won second place and $10,000.
  • A device that would capture what a professor is writing on the blackboard to students' tablets won $7,500 in legal services from Polsinelli.