Sameer Kumar was inspired to solve a real problem going into Minnesota’s IoT Hackday on Saturday. Someone he loves suffers from Trichotillomania — the recurring urge to pull hair from the scalp, eyebrows or other areas of the body. While this mental disorder was very personal in nature, everyday body-focused repetitive disorders such as nail biting and skin picking affect a largely undiagnosed population of the world.
When he posed the situation to group of hackers in the early hours, Matt Yoder, Kirk Klobe and John Pritchard raised their hands. Collectively they hacked away all day, heads down inventing a wearable bracelet designed to help those who suffer from such subconscious behaviors.
Using a custom algorithm, the unit works when worn by detecting when the hand is near the head, or when calibrated, can sense other gesture movements and proximity. Klobe, a mobile developer by trade, made a simple setup for the user to receive immediate auditory and vibratory alerts via device when the undesired movement occurs, as demonstrated in the video above.
The resulting product is about the size of a quarter; it uses the Low Energy Bluetooth 4.0 module, accelerometer, and microcontroller in Bean combined with with an infrared sensor, all powered by a coin cell battery. Their crowd voted victory was sealed by fact that in merely one days time, the outcome worked as intended and could be immediately applied to the problem at hand.
“There’s definitely a large commercial potential here,” Yoder says. “We’re already refining the algorithm, pursuing the ideal form factor and generally talking about next steps and other applicable use cases.”