Jessica Dailey

Rapid Prototyping Brings 'Ideas for Good' to Life at CMU

by , 06/06/11

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Another design that has real potential to come to the market is the better bike helmet, concocted by Stu Selthun. Stu’s team didn’t create a new bike helmet in three days, but they did design a data collecting device that could pave the way for a better bike helmet.

Stu’s expert was Dr. Joel Stitzel, the man behind the recent football helmet safety research. Josh Schapiro, a CMU professor that worked with Deeplocal, created a small data collector with two circuit boards and five different sensors that measure different types of acceleration and force. They attached the sensor pack to a helmet and did a variety of drop tests, then compared that data to data that Dr. Stitzel had run through Toyota’s T.H.U.M.S. software. The idea behind the pack is that it could be manufactured and sold to bikers, who could attach it to their own helmets. If they crash, the sensor would blink or send information to their phone letting them know whether or not they need to go to the hospital. The data collected from these real life crashes could also ultimately be used to design a better bike helmet.

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Most of the electricity generating exercise equipment that we see comes in the form of cardio machines. But to make 20-year-old Birken Schimpff’s idea of the power plant gym a reality, the team went a different route. They bought a weight machine, but left the weights off when they built it. Instead, they attached a bicycle wheel and custom made an adjustable handle to change the resistance. By changing the vertical motion of the weights into a circular motion, they were able to convert that energy into power; much like Toyota’s hybrid synergy drive technology converts the energy from breaking into electricity. While the system could not power the lights in the gym, it could be used to power things the person on the machine uses while they work out, like the TV or their iPod.

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