6:30am

Thu March 14, 2013
Tech

A fix for lost luggage, plus more innovations

A team of Rochester Institute of Technology students has created a system that allows travelers to get real-time updates on the location of their luggage by way of an embedded device in their suitcase.

Student Angela Corrado was recently on a plane waiting to take off when she saw her luggage fall off the carrier and sit forgotten on the ground. It wasn’t until she alerted airline officials that they reunited it with the other passengers’ luggage.

But, thanks to Corrado and her team mates, this aggravating experience of losing your luggage, a traveler’s worst nightmare, could be solved.

Corrado explains the team’s solution.

"We were working on designing a GPS enabled luggage system that would come with an app. So the user would be able to sync up their smart phone and use the app to track their belongings wherever they were traveling to," she said.

The device will send users hourly updates on the location of their luggage, and travel information can be entered that would prompt alerts if their belongings stray off route.

Corrado, along with Alex Dupont, Jared Rupa, and Steven Asselanis, won first place for their idea at RIT's innovation competition, Shark Tank.

Corrado says the judges gave them some valuable feedback on their product, including a suggestion that they sell the tracking device separately rather than embedding it in a suitcase, making it more affordable.

“I’ve got luggage. I’m not going to go out and buy luggage. But I’d go out and buy this device tomorrow,” said Bill Jones, one of the judges and director of RIT’s Venture Creations.

The team won $2,000 for first place, and has already been approached by interested investors. They're now in the process of working out how to move forward to bring their product to the market.

Who needs a laptop?

Second place in the competition went to an application that allows the screen contents of a mobile device to be displayed onto other nearby devices.

The unique part of the device is that it is a cross-compatible platform, meaning that it will interact with any product instead of being specifically for apple, windows, or android products.

Auston LeRoy and Evan Starkman are the students behind the app.

“It seeks to provide wireless connectivity to extend your display from your mobile device to any laptop, smart-tv, or what have you,” LeRoy says.

LeRoy says the app, which allows interaction between devices within 50 ft of each other, could be used as a bit of a toy for tech lovers, or as a handy tool for people in the business world.

“You’re a business professional, you walk into your office, the only device you have with you is your mobile device because it has enough processing power to do your tasks and you want to be mobile when you travel and have all of your capabilities on you at all times.”

“It would automatically connect to your smart-tv on your wall, and to your blue-tooth mouse keyboard and mouse. As far as the user is concerned, it’s no different than a personal computer.”

LeRoy says they have also had interest from investors, and they hope to launch the first stage of the app in the near future.

Better medicine for rural areas

Mahesh Galgalikar took out third place in the competition with his idea to create a basic device to identify heart defects by comparing the patterns of heartbeats using an algorithm.

“What my algorithm does is processes a particular heart sound, and based on that heart sound it is capable of detecting any deformation in the heart. If there is any abnormality in the heart, it can easily pick out that abnormality.”

Galgalikar says there are already several machines that can give this sort of detailed diagnosis, but he says they are often not accessible in small communities or third world countries.

“This equipment is located in multi-specialty hospitals in big cities. Also, this equipment is very expensive. Another thing is that you need a very specialized skill set to be able to interpret the results from this equipment.”

Galgalikar says his device would be useful in remote areas of the world where there is no access to hospitals or MRI machines.

“So my particular system serves as a free diagnostic system.”

He says it would cut out a lot of stress, time, money, and cut down miss-diagnosis in small medical offices.

Galgalikar says he hopes to bring his product to market so that people in remote areas of the US, and the world, can have access to a good heart defect diagnostic system.

Some more innovative ideas

Some of the other ideas that came out of the competition include; a recycling bin that will add up the value of the cans or other recyclables that are put inside it, software that would detect copyrighted content on other websites, and a service that connects consumers to employers and academic institutions by comparing skill sets to the skills needed for specific jobs.