Meeting the Challenge
Before embarking on a demanding engineering program in the fall, most students would be tempted to spend the summer simply relaxing. Yet when incoming students were invited to participate in NYU Tandon’s 2020 Tandon Made Challenge, which called upon them to team with their future classmates to solve a pressing healthcare challenge in a post COVID-19 world, more than 150 eagerly rolled up their sleeves.
More than bragging rights were at stake: after a pitch session, conducted via Zoom, two teams (one undergraduate and one graduate) were tapped to receive $5,000 each to develop and build their prototype in the fall, with the ultimate goal being to create a viable, market-ready product with the potential to join our start-up initiative, the NYU Tandon Future Labs.
Zero Contact Touchless Hardware Retrofits Challenge
The first of the three challenges charged students with finding ways to retrofit existing hardware so that it could be used without human contact — thereby limiting the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses. Extend-O-Guard, an elastic, polymer-coated, flexible spring band that consumers can use to cover the handle of shopping carts, rented bikes, and other such items, was deemed the graduate team winner, and the winning undergraduate project was a Dual Tone Multi-Frequency (DTMF)-Controlled Zero Contact Buttons Kit for use in elevators.
Telecommunication, Telehealth and Teletherapy enabled by Communications (5G) Challenge
Challenge two called on competitors to use 5G and other wireless technologies to provide remote diagnostics, patient support, treatment, and beyond. The undergraduate winner was 5Glass, a device that enables medical responders to stream live footage of a patient during an ambulance ride, while the winning graduate team came up with PhysioAI, an online platform using advanced machine-learning techniques to provide physical rehabilitation and therapy.
Robotic Control of Healthcare Devices Challenge
Challenge three asked “How can we use robots and robotics to be assistive to doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers in hospitals during pandemics such as COVID-19?” The winning graduate students answered with the Disposo-Bot, an autonomous waste-collecting robot, and the undergraduates created InnoVate, a robotic IV pole equipped with an autonomous movement system to minimize physical contact.