More than 310 million people worldwide suffer from diseases of the eye. Nearly 90 percent of them live in developing countries, and nearly all of their diseases can be prevented with early detection.
The challenge in wiping out these disorders is access to affordable healthcare. That’s where mobileVision – an innovative take on bringing low-cost diagnostic check-ups to the underserved – comes into play.
And to think: a group of college engineers who wanted to make a major difference conceived the design of the project and all the long hours of research and testing to bring it to fruition.
On Tuesday, that effort paid off. Five students from Rice University in Houston – Richard Latimer, Adam Samaniego, Kevin Beale, George Chen and Minhee Park – captured first place in the 2012 Engibous Prize, the top honor given during TI’s annual Analog Design Contest. It’s the second straight year a team from Rice has captured the title, which brings with it a $10,000 award.
“This definitely proves to us that we’re doing meaningful work,” Samaniego said. “All along, we wanted to do something that would be used to help people. And we feel like we’ve set the groundwork to do just that.”
The forward-thinking concept behind mobileVision has the potential to revolutionize healthcare. Untrained individuals will be able to take snapshots of a retina outside of a clinical environment. As an LED light and various optics illuminate the retina, pictures can then be transmitted via an Internet protocol camera to a smartphone for an ophthalmologist to review remotely.
“What caught our attention is that this is a novel idea that meets a defined need for a great number of people around the world,” said Gene Frantz, a principal fellow at TI who also served as a judge of the competition. “Meet that need, and you will right away increase their quality of life.”
Three other projects also earned accolades at Tuesday’s awards ceremony:
Samaniego and Latimer will both continue on at Rice for graduate school. And they agree that extra time will give them the chance to scale down the size of their device as well as make it more affordable – not to mention begin clinical trials.
Said Latimer: “We’ve got a head start on a lot of people going into grad school because we know what project we’ll be working on. Our unique approach to solving this problem is something we haven’t seen before, and we’re excited about the prospects to make everything we’ve done that much better.”
Be sure to check back soon for more in-depth coverage of the Analog Design Contest Engibous Summit as well as for information on how you can enter the 2012-13 contest.
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