When powerlessness made me build a device!

Epitracker, an epilepsy detecting wearable device

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It all started during my college time. We usually used to hangout together during weekend. On one such day, we decided to do something different. We decided to travel to hill station, nearby. We were a gang of four travelling on two bikes. It was real fun in the beginning. I was a pillion with a guy who was affected by a chronic epileptic condition.

It all went fine till we reached 2000ft and then the weather became chilly and the required oxygen intake increased. While rocks and trees lined the road on one side, the other side was lined by a steep 2000ft fall.

My friend and I were having a conversation throughout the ride. Suddenly he stopped talking. Instead, he started shaking and the bike went out of control. It was only then that I realized the he was in the middle of an epileptic attack. Caught between a scrapping ourselves on the road and falling off the cliff, I somehow managed to shift my body weight enough to make us fall on the safe side of the road.. I was alone but I somehow
managed to control his condition and made him regained consciousness. Luckily
we escaped with just a bruise.

I realised how powerless I was when a close friend was in fact in pain. I had no idea how to deal with the situation. I was powerless. Now that really inspired me to explore the possibility to build a device to aid a person under an epileptic attack. A guy with an epileptic
condition cannot be left alone, what if I wasn’t there in the situation? It could lead to lose of precious life.

So I started to study about that condition and learnt that it is a condition in the brain that is triggered due to head injury, brain tumour, or some genetic mutation.

Epileptic seizures are episodes that can vary from brief and nearly undetectable to long periods of vigorous shaking. But to make the device work, I needed some real highend sensors. That’s when the universe offered me an opportunity in the form of a hackathon. It was Thinghack Healthcare Hackathon. And I wanted to make use of it.

I registered and got selected. After meeting a lot of interesting people at the event, I joined a team. We ideated with doctors techies and other field experts and began building the prototype. We were given a Cooking Hack medical development kit. We decided to finalise with the EKG sensor.

EKG sensor is a biomedical sensor which helps in detecting our muscular activity of our body. in the form of amplitude. It measures the potential difference between the bones and records the action potential of the motor nerves.

So in case of a sudden epileptic attack, the frequency at which the muscle contracts and expands will be more than the regular frequency.

On day 2, we moved onto building the hardware where I used an  a rduino as the base controller and a Bluetooth module to connect to the mobile.

Simultaneously, the mobile technology was also developed. This unit would send the geo location to the predefined number. It was designed to also provide audio alarm to alert people around the patient and also provide instructions on how to assist the user in case of seizure attack.

This unit was programmed to also send information to the cloud where the doctor can monitor the attacks and help in proper monitoring of the patient regularly.

We then teamed up with Cisco gateway to send our data to their cloud. We even won collaboration award for our prototype which won us a gift of sensegiz tracker.

It may sound like a mechanically process to build such a device. Yes, it won us a prize and recognition. But more importantly, it silently made me confident. I don’t wish for it happen again but at least I realised that I was no longer powerless. Someday, I hope for this power to also be handed back to the patients.

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