Made in the 956: UTRGV student invents new way to care for the elderly

4 months 3 weeks 6 days ago Tuesday, May 02 2023 May 2, 2023 May 02, 2023 11:11 AM May 02, 2023 in News - Local

William Brown is a mechanical engineering student at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and he is weeks away from graduating.

"You know what, I have this love for tech development, and I want to help people out, and I figured this could be an opportunity for me to combine these two interest I have," Brown.

Even though he is still a student, he's also a business owner.

"In the summer of 2021, Dr. Janae, the founder and director of Expanding Frontiers, reached out to me and told me they were starting their entrepreneur and apprenticeship program, or AROD for short, and he told me we have access to NASA technology that we're able to commercialize for on-earth use, you can launch a start-up out of it."

That's exactly what he did. It's called Embedded, and he got the idea for the company while helping his family take care of his grandpa at home.

"But it was getting really difficult to care and watch over him because we'd be in the room, we would step out and someone else would step in but sometimes in those 30 seconds when we were switching, he would get up and fall and the same thing would happen at night as well," Brown said.

That's when Brown created a device that could make a big change in how elderly patients are cared for in nursing homes.

"You can think of it like a smart bedsheet or like a pad that goes over your mattress. So what this does is, it's going to be lined with the RFID tags that we have here and as you can see they're essentially paper-thin. We laminated to protect them as we test, but yeah they're paper-thin antennas. They're wire-less, they're self-charging," Brown said. "And as the patient is laying on them, these tags are communicating with an antenna above the bed, and it'll tell the caretakers at the nursing home or at your house, 'hey the patient is rolling over' or the 'patient is about to get up' and it'll send an alert to the caretaker, that way the caretaker can go in and prevent the patient from falling and the patient themselves. They're not feeling wires or pads under them, it's just them laying on their normal bed."

Brown says they're going to continue developing the prototype to test it out. The end goal is to have them in nursing homes everywhere.

"There are days when it's going to get real tough. Especially, like if you're a student, like I am, you're going to get those days when it's finals week or midterms and yes it does get hard, but you just have to look, and a lot of people say this, but you have to look at why you're doing this. Why you got started with it and as long as you keep making progress even if it's a little bit each day, that's still progress that you're making," Brown said. "It's been an awesome journey. It's been a lot of work and development with the start-up, but it's been fun."

William Brown and his company Embedded, Made in the 956.

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