July 10, 2017

On Making a Difference

The big San Diego Comic-Con crafting update is coming later this week. I’m finishing up the bits and pictures and it will be posted by this weekend!

In less nerdy but still pretty interesting (to me!) news, I made a thing!  It’s called the Personal Health Information Tracker, and I’m trying to get it prototyped and perfected and manufactured, which is much harder than you’d think. Given, I am a third year computer engineering student with no practical real world experience in making things. Gotta start somewhere, I guess!

Why would someone with no experience in making health and fitness gear go for broke off the cuff? Well, it’s not entirely out of the blue, I promise. You’ll recall that I spent the better part of five years helping to take care of my very sick dad before he passed. That situation was full of stress and pitfalls, one of the biggest of which was my dad needed constant monitoring. There were so many organs failing and his medications were so delicately balanced that he’d pass out or crash a couple of times a week. Growing up in an environment that stated he had to be a strong, independent man, my dad hated, no, loathed being babysat or chauffeured around. Anything that would have allowed him the smallest measure of freedom from the constant, constant oversight from family, friends and medical professionals would have eased that stress.

The reason he needed constant oversight is illustrated by my friend Erica’s story. Erica is a seven-time cancer survivor (wait, is it eight now? Nine? I’ve honestly lost count, as disturbing as that is). She is so used to going about her life after procedures that would leave the rest of us whimpering in a hospital bed that she went shopping after getting a large chunk of her brain completely obliterated by radiation. While alone in her van in a parking lot, she suffered a grand mal seizure; she wasn’t found for hours.

She was lucky. She survived this in spite of that long spate between going down and being found. In so, so many instances, a medical emergency while alone is fatal. So how to balance the need to live your life unfettered with the need to protect and monitor you in case the worst should happen?

Like I said, I made a thingy. I looked online to see if my thingy existed, something that would monitor vitals, alert your choice of people if something went wonky with your vitals, and give them your problem and location so they could get you help ASAP.

But doesn’t that exist already? Surely, that exists already. Nope. There’s a thing that’ll help if you pass out in your house, but it’s tethered, no leaving without your base unit…and it doesn’t tell anyone why you passed out (which helps the medical professionals a lot). So my goal was to make it go anywhere, do anything, and get you the help you need. NBD. Just magic.

Seriously, though, there’s a competition in Germany where, if you’re one of the top nine finalists, you get to go to Hamburg and build things with German Engineers. Commence the engineer squeezing. I want this so, so bad. Not just because I’ve never been to Europe and how fun would that be? But also because Germans are the badasses of the engineering world, and they would science the sh*t out of my prototype, making it not just workable but AWESOME.

There’s some stiff competition for this thing, but I remain hopeful. I’ll find out next week if I’m a finalist…so right now I am ALL THE STRESS. Harnessing this, I shall make more things for Comic-Con. ON TO MORE CRAFTY THINGS.