A group of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity stu­dent researchers have devel­oped an auto­mated emer­gency alert system to help elderly people in sudden need of med­ical attention.

Under the direc­tion of Charles DiMarzio, an asso­ciate pro­fessor in the depart­ments of elec­trical and com­puter engi­neering and mechan­ical and indus­trial engi­neering, the stu­dents cre­ated the tech­nology for a wire­less wrist device that auto­mat­i­cally alerts emer­gency respon­ders should the gadget detect a sudden change in the user’s vital signs or speed of move­ment, as from a fall.

The inno­v­a­tive tech­nology was devel­oped for the team’s engi­neering senior cap­stone project. The team mem­bers included Darren Nunes, Brian Rosen­berg, Jon Sara­finas, Chris Udall and Max Flaherty.

The wire­less device, designed to resemble a wrist­watch, mon­i­tors vital signs, including oxygen levels and heart rate, and wire­lessly trans­mits the infor­ma­tion so those responding to an emer­gency know as much as pos­sible prior to arriving at the scene.

The idea behind the device came from the Fla­herty family’s expe­ri­ence with another, less tech­no­log­i­cally advanced product. A family member wearing a non-​​automated emer­gency alert device suf­fered fatal internal injuries after falling down a set of stairs.

I wanted to design some­thing that a person can easily wear and has the capacity to alert emer­gency respon­ders auto­mat­i­cally if the user becomes uncon­scious,” said Fla­herty. “Our device has the poten­tial to save more lives.”

The design of a non-​​invasive device that allows users to live safely and inde­pen­dently was a pri­ority for the stu­dents, who spent more than 2,000 hours on the project.

No other com­mer­cial system cur­rently inte­grates wrist-​​worn fall detec­tion, plus vital sign and emer­gency mon­i­toring in the way that this system does,” said Udall.