Tracking the whereabouts of dementia patients can be a difficult and expensive task, but two Singapore Polytechnic (SP) students used the latest technology to develop a tracking device which costs a dollar a month to operate.
Mr Chryston Chua and Mr Neo Yizhe, both 21, created the tracker for their final-year project last year. The two graduated from SP with diplomas in electrical and electronic engineering in May.
They were one of five teams that on Tuesday won the Lee Hsien Loong Interactive Digital Media Smart Nation Award, which recognises polytechnic students in the area of interactive digital media. Each project received a one-off cash award of $1,000.
In all, 188 students from 82 educational institutions were recognised for their achievements at the Special Awards Presentation Ceremony held at Republic Polytechnic.
Mr Chua and Mr Neo used low-power wide area network (LPWAN) technology called Sigfox for their tracker.
Normal trackers - with usage costs starting at $199 - work using online apps, but these can be problematic if there is no Internet connection. The pair developed a system that can send caregivers text messages to inform them of a patient's whereabouts. Subscription costs start at $1 a month.
Mr Chua said: "My late grandmother suffered from dementia for 12 years. When we were given this project, I was inspired to create it for those with dementia and their caregivers."
Six students from Republic Polytechnic's diploma in design for user experience (DDUX) and diploma in electrical and electronic engineering courses also won the award for a collaboration with the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (Minds).
Their project consists of a wearable tracking device similar to a fidget cube, as well as a home monitor and a mobile application for caregivers to track and monitor those with intellectual disabilities.
If the wearer falls, for example, the tracking device is able to detect it and alerts the caregiver through e-mail and push notifications from the app. The monitor has a camera attached inside, which caregivers can view through the app.
DDUX graduate Subramaniam Selvanaiyagam, 21, said: "We had a picnic with about 15 intellectually disabled adults from Minds and their parents, where we conducted observations to try to cater our design to meet their needs."
Meanwhile, five students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic's diploma in biomedical engineering and diploma in environmental and water technology courses worked with the National Environment Agency (NEA) to develop an automated device that traps and kills female mosquitoes using bait-water to lure them to a sticky tape.
Currently, the NEA's operators have to manually refill the traps and count the number of trapped mosquitoes. The team's device allows the NEA to pinpoint which traps need refilling.
The three remaining members of the team - two have graduated - hope to work on the use of an infra-red camera that can automatically count the number of mosquitoes trapped.