• 08.13.14

This Kid Designed A Wearable Health Device For His Grandfather With Alzheimer’s

15-year-old Kenneth Shinozuka has created a sensor that sets off an alert when his grandfather gets out of bed.

This Kid Designed A Wearable Health Device For His Grandfather With Alzheimer’s
[Photo: JeepFoto via Shutterstock]

People with Alzheimer’s have a tendency to wander. Left alone for a while, they may get up and walk around aimlessly, creating headaches for caregivers who have to keep up with them.


Kenneth Shinozuka saw how his grandfather, who has Alzheimer’s, would wander and how his aunt would struggle to cope. “About two years ago, my grandfather started wandering out of bed, which caused a lot of accidents,” he says. “My aunt had to stay awake all night to keep an eye on him and, even then, often failed to catch him leaving the bed.”

Shinozuka, who is 15 years old, came up with something to help: A thin pressure-sensor that attaches to the heel and alerts his aunt when his grandfather gets out of bed.

The flexible film contains a wireless circuit about the size of a quarter. Via Bluetooth, it connects with a smartphone app (which Shinozuka also designed), setting off a sound. See more in the video here:

“My aunt has been testing the device on my grandfather for eight months. So far, it’s had a 100% success rate,” Shinozuka says. “It’s definitely helped her. She’s felt less fatigued during the day, because she’s not having to wake up every 30 minutes at night to check on my grandfather.”

Shinozuka, who lives in the Bronx, is currently staying in Southern California with his grandfather. He plans to beta test the device at three residential care homes, and, after that, bring a product to market.

The project recently won first prize at the $50,000 Scientific American Science in Action Award, which is part of the Google Science Fair.

It’s just a shame Shinozuka’s grandfather can’t appreciate his achievements, though his aunt is definitely happier.

About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.