Cornell University

Team Summaries - 2015

University of Pennsylvania

APRo - UPenn APRo, an application-based robotic platform geared towards the hacker and hobbyist communities, enables users to develop robotic applications with its multi-purpose hardware. Much like the Arduino catalyzed the micro-controller market and smart phones pioneered mobile applications; our framework is designed to springboard robotic applications. We aim to achieve the following objectives:

  • Combine commonly used sensors and multi-media hardware into a single package
  • Provide an easy to use interface (API) for accessing the underlying hardware
  • Create examples to demonstrate integrated functionality (such as telepresence)
  • Release open source software and hardware under the GPL license
  • Develop an aesthetically pleasing, robust, and compact mechanical platform
  • Mold the device into an affordable, mass-manufacturable, and marketable product

Bright Communications
University of Houston

Bright Communications - HoustonInternet consumption is exponentially growing with the rise of video streaming and the “Internet of Everything” (IoE). The growing demand of bandwidth such as Ultra HD video is quickly outpacing improvements in wireless technology. Furthermore, high density areas such as concerts and auditoriums still pose a challenge to wireless network engineers to provide high-speed yet reliable coverage. A combination of interference, duplex, and security impact today’s wireless networks.

According to Harald Hass from TED Talks, Visible Light Communication (VLC) provides reliable data transfer that is ten times faster than today’s 802.11n standard. Bright Communications (Li-Fi) aims to function alongside normal Wi-Fi communication. This helps load balance users between the two technologies allowing for seamless access to all users. Bright Communications will allow for reliable high-speed transfers by using your everyday light source, LEDs. Unlike Wi-Fi, Bright Communications is a low power yet efficient solution to the wireless problem by providing full duplex communication. Additionally this solution allows for scalability in not only the number of users but also for various upcoming technologies including vehicle to vehicle communication and improved inflight networking.

GesturTech: Enhancing Professional Presentations using Technology
University of Houston

GesturTech - HoustonFluid progression of professional oral presentations is often interrupted by hand-bound controllers needing operation. Constantly, presenters are required to manipulate a computer to progress through a presentation. This is done by using a hand-bound input device such as a mouse or keyboard. As of recently presenting has become more convenient thanks to remote clickers and pointers. However, this method still requires the presenter’s hand to be bound to the input device adding another form of inconvenience. Experts at SOAP Presentations out of Sao Paulo, Brazil have conducted research on personal presentation mistakes. Their research has shown that amongst the most common mistakes made by individuals is their body language and limitations of movement.

To deliver this functionality a combination of speed and positioning sensors will allow the user to communication his/her gesture to any remote controlled device. The technology will be wearable and self-powered. With said wearable user interface and wireless communication, the user will be able to use their arm virtually as an input device for presentation navigation. This device targets elimination of disruption caused by having to “pause-and-click” through a presentation. Future considerations for the applications of this device range from PC control to drone navigation.

Project PAM
Southern Illinois University

Project PAM - SIUProject PAM (Photoresin Additive Manufacturing) is the world's first open source hardware DLP 3D printer that follows the Open Source Hardware Definition set by the Open Source Hardware Association. This type of 3D printing gets away from the extruding spaghetti machines and instead uses light-curing resins to build your models. This means higher resolution, fewer moving parts, and faster build times.

Photoresin additive manufacturing printers have many advantages over fused deposition manufacturing (FDM) printers. Currently there are DLP 3D printers on the market; however, most have either high cost or small build volumes. Project PAM takes DLP 3D printing in a new direction, providing the largest build area of any hobbyist DLP 3D printer on the market without sacrificing resolution and all of this in a low cost open source design.

The goal for this project is to produce a high resolution DLP printer which is fully open sourced using available or easy to fabricate hardware in a flexible, well documented design. Project PAM has a max build volume of just less than 9 liters. We are able to accomplish this by supporting dual 1080p projectors; however this can be configured to meet a user's needs.

Smart Wheelchair
Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Smart Wheelchair - WPIThis project improves the intuitive interfaces and control design for an existing Smart Wheelchair targeted for persons with Locked-In Syndrome (LIS). The semi-autonomous wheelchair developed by the Robotics and Intelligent Vehicles Research Laboratory (RIVeR Lab) at Worcester Polytechnic Institute performs assistive navigation control through obstacle avoidance and wall following. The project work includes improving existing systems and adding new capabilities. The assistive navigation control will be improved by enhancing the system’s responsiveness, refining the Emotiv headset navigation interface, and adding an innovative EMG sensor for navigation using muscular signals. Additionally, to enable users to engage their environment through tasks such as self-feeding, a JACO robotic arm and Kinect sensor will be integrated. The overall goal of this project is to increase the user’s self-sufficiency.

Team H2O
University of Houston

Team H2O - Houston Sustainability projects have become common place in public facilities across the U.S.; however many of these lack proper service monitoring systems. Manually monitoring these systems is expensive, time consuming, and often results in a reactive response which can result in downtime for the system. Currently, University of Houston employs four full-time employees working 40-hours per week for the maintenance of EZH2O bottle filling stations. Wireless sustainability efforts can reduce the labor cost of maintenance by 50% creating a weekly savings of $4000. By implementing self-monitoring systems, the University is able to take advantage of resources in a more effective manner.

Our wireless sustainability information and monitoring system will monitor the EZH2O units filter status and number of bottles saved, and create a report to a webserver. The initial scope for this project lies with the University of Houston. The university currently has 68 bottle filling stations spread across the 667 acre campus. This size and space between each station causes a drastic increase in the cost to maintain and service these machines. The wireless sustainability information and monitoring system will generate significant savings in labor and time-required for maintenance.

Team HighSkeye
University of Pennsylvania

Team HighSkeye -UPenn Team HighSkeye proposes to design a high altitude platform (>50,000 feet) that is capable of maintaining the same height for extended periods of time.

Our primary objective is altitude control of a high altitude weather balloon. By creating a feedback loop which is preprogrammed to open and close and pressure-controlling valve, we hope to maintain the balloon at a specific altitude until either 1) other factors cause it to fall (e.g., UV degradation of latex) or 2) we specify a time-frame or location upon which the balloon should descend.

Our platform could be used to conduct research experiments more efficiently. Our altitude control of the balloon will help users reach the optimal height for their mission, whether it be photography, high altitude research, or communications. Our platform could serve as a low-cost alternative to the burgeoning cubesat/nanosat market — it would enable the creation of a constellation of small satellites in the upper reaches of the atmosphere rather than in Low Earth Orbit, potentially at two to three orders of magnitude lower cost.

Team MuMu - Mobile Device Locking System
University of Houston

Team MuMu - HoustonAccording to an online source, SafegaurdTheWorld, there are 2 million home burglaries in the US reported every year. Our product is aimed at protecting your homes from burglary using your mobile device. A Pew Research study found, “58% of American adults have a smartphone” and “42% of American adults own a tablet computer.” The purpose of this project is to develop a more convenient and safer method of accessing and protecting your homes using a smart device. Such a system will allow other features to be included examples include allowing the user to unlock their doors from anywhere in the world and automatically informing the user of any activity at the door.

There is a PIN code required for the application preventing others from accessing it using a stolen Smartphone. This would be convenient for points of access needing to be shared by numerous people, such as entry into gated communities. Additional functions could enable emergency personnel special access.

University of Houston

Team PIES - HoustonThe pipeline fire isolation system for emergencies provides local and remote access and control over emergency shutdown valves inside of a pipeline to isolate a fire. The program will also provide many display readouts for the user to understand exactly what is happening inside of the pipe (i.e. pressure, temperature, flow rate, etc.). There will also be a stand-alone hydrologic system that will implement an emergency shutdown response. This will decrease the time it takes for the valve to close.

Currently in the event of an emergency, a system shuts two threaded valves to suffocate the fire inside of the pipeline. This process is slow, about 3 seconds to completely shut the valve. It wastes a large amount of product, and causes significant amount of property as well as environmental damage.

In 2013, 62 significant instances of pipeline fires occurred causing over 15 million dollars in damage to people’s property alone, 8 deaths, and 40 serious injuries. In the past 20 years, no safety systems have been implemented to make significant reductions in these numbers. We would like to see the number of accidents cut in half.

UH2O Smart Water Fountain
University of Houston

UH2O Smart Water Fountain - HoustonSince the cost of water has increased by more than 60% in Houston since 2000, it is in our best interest to begin implementing economical measures, such as ways to reduce water waste. Traditional drinking fountains produce a considerable amount of waste water, and bottle filling stations still rely on user input to dispense the correct amount. In addition, the filters may need replacement at any time, maintenance crews need to check the filter status of each fountain multiple times a week, adding to their overall cost.

The improvements we plan to make to the refill station include a WiFi shield that will be used for real-time wireless communication, allowing remote monitoring by sending information such as the status of the filter and the bottle count to headquarters. This will also eliminate the need to manually monitor each station thereby reducing labor costs. Another improvement will be to install sensors used to measure the volume of a container to dispense the appropriate amount of water without overflowing or constant monitoring. With these improvements, there is a potential of at least 511 tons of greenhouse gas reduced in one year from 63 refill stations.