Team of Student Engineers Selected as Finalists in $10 Million International Competition
Aezon Health, a team comprising 19 undergraduates from Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering and Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, has been selected as one of 10 teams in the final round of the $10 million Qualcomm Tricorder XPRIZE competition.
Sixteen of the students are from the Whiting School’s applied mathematics and statistics, biomedical engineering, computer science, electrical, materials science, and mechanical engineering departments. The Krieger School students represent the biophysics and neuroscience departments. Aezon is the only undergraduate team in the competition. The other winning teams hail from the US, the UK, Canada, India, Ireland and Taiwan.
The three-and-a-half-year international contest, which began in the summer of 2012, challenges teams to develop consumer-friendly “tricorders” – a la the fictional gizmo used by Dr. Leonard McCoy of Star Trek fame– capable of diagnosing a set of 15 conditions and capturing key human health metrics. Each device can weigh no more than five pounds.
Aezon’s system consists of a unit that monitors vital signs, a smartphone app, lab box, and a cloud database that stores patient test results for use later by doctors and patients through an online portal. After the Aezon tricorder scans for diseases ranging from strep throat to urinary tract infections, it advises the user how to proceed.
“This is an amazing opportunity and we couldn’t be more thrilled! We are grateful to all our mentors within the Hopkins community who have helped us get here,” said Tatiana Rypinski, a senior biomedical engineering major and Aezon team leader. “An extraordinary amount of work lies ahead, but we are excited to take on the challenge.”
Very few methods currently exist for individuals to receive direct medical care without seeing a healthcare professional at a clinic or hospital. The result is an access bottleneck. Aezon members believe their team’s device has the potential to combat this critical problem.
The final round of judging begins March 2015 with the submission of the finalists’ devices for consumer testing, and the winners will be announced in January 2016. The first place team will win $7 million, with $2 million and $1 million going to the second and third place teams.
Aezon has partnered with software and hardware developers Symcat, SpiroSmart, Biomeme and Aegle, in what team member Neil Rens, a senior biomedical engineering major, says “is an effort to deliver the very best product to consumers.”
Read about the Aezon Health team in JHU Engineering magazine.