They were up against more than 500 students in 115 teams from 29 countries. They had worked hard for two months – full-time. They were vying for a $10,000 prize. They wanted the top title at the third-annual Texas Instruments (TI) Analog Design Contest in Europe.
Belgium’s Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (KU Leuven) university students Hans De Clercq, Jeroen Lecoutere and Piet Callemeyn had created an innovative baby pajama suit – a suit that could save lives. They crafted their fabric outfit with integrated sensors that allow for comfortable, remote collection of key vital signs data to monitor a baby’s health for such things as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It also included a wireless charging system that tucks under a bed’s mattress to keep the pajama sensor system continuously powered.
The team spent many long hours in KU Leuven’s Microelectronics and Sensors (MICAS) lab working on the suit. “A lot of possibilities exist for students in the lab,” Callemeyn says. “We also used facilities in the mechanical engineering department to speed up our prototyping.”
It was a joint effort to win the TI-sponsored contest that is geared toward university students. Teams are judged on six criteria, including on mainly how much and how well analog is used in their projects. The top 20 projects ranged from wireless to medical to robotic applications, all using TI’s array of integrated circuits (ICs).
De Clercq, Lecoutere and Callemeyn incorporated several TI components into their design, including the ADS1292 analog-to-digital converter, low-power microcontroller chip CC430 for wireless connectivity, and two other components (the INA333 and OPA333) that contributed to a classical instrumentation amplifier. “We spent a lot of time optimizing our prototype,” Piet says.
The team of three – who says they get along great and their diverse electrical, mechanical and biomedical engineering backgrounds complement one another – were brought together by De Clercq, who had discovered the contest when he was visiting TI’s website. He had already outlined the project idea several years prior while working on his master’s thesis, “but I didn’t find the time then to work it out,” De Clercq says. “TI's analog design contest gave us the opportunity to refine this idea and to translate it into a working prototype.”
The end result? Winning. “We were very impressed with the project target goal, solid analysis of the problem and safety of the application from the KU Leuven team. They were the complete package,” says Polytech University Nice-Sophia professor Yves Leduc, who was one of three independent TI Analog design contest judges.
The KU Leuven team found out they won in early November, and collected the top award during the Engibous Prize Giving Ceremony at electronica 2012 in Munich, just a few weeks ago. “It really humbles me that a great company as TI acknowledges our technological ideas,” Lecoutere says. “It feels as a support to continue on the path we are going.”
Each of the three teammates is now pursuing a PhD in electrical engineering. But they’re making time to celebrate the win. How? They’re taking the $10,000 prize – and their passion for sports cars – to go racing on the tracks in France.
Congrats on the win! What an inovative product. I'm sure this is one that lots of Mom's would be interested in!
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