Unlike many engi­neering endeavors, SQUID isn’t an acronym, an alphabet soup-​​style amalgam of com­pli­cated sci­en­tific terms. Instead, it refers to a device designed by a team of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity senior engi­neering and graphic design stu­dents who have cre­ated a sensor-​​equipped shirt that con­nects with an Android app and inter­ac­tive website.

The box and wires in our pro­to­type looked like a torso and ten­ta­cles,” said Alex Moran, a senior engi­neering major. “We wanted to stay away from the normal engi­neering naming con­ven­tions and instead make some­thing more brandable.”

The senior cap­stone project bridged dis­ci­plines including engi­neering and graphic design as well as human phys­i­ology and sports med­i­cine. It is made up of a com­pres­sion ath­letic shirt with sen­sors attached to it, which trans­late elec­tronic sig­nals into data that is fed into the SQUID Android app and an accom­pa­nying web­site. The stu­dents col­lab­o­rated with fac­ulty from the Col­lege of Engi­neering, Col­lege of Arts, Media and Design and the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences.

One of the biggest things early on was fig­uring out what work fell onto what team’s turf,” said Mark Sivak, a vis­iting assis­tant aca­d­emic spe­cialist in the Col­lege of Arts, Media and Design’s cre­ative indus­tries pro­gram. Sivak works closely with the team’s cap­stone advisor, Con­stan­tinos Mavroidis, a pro­fessor of mechan­ical and indus­trial engi­neering in the Col­lege of Engineering.

The team suc­cess­fully bridged the gaps between their dis­ci­plines, Mavroidis said.

We had a lot of ques­tions about the engi­neering, and that’s cer­tainly what our job is,” said graphic design stu­dent Ali Aas. “We had to learn a lot about the sci­en­tific side of this project so we could design some­thing that was both visu­ally impres­sive and also worked with what the engi­neers on our team were designing.”

Early on, Mavroidis sug­gested the stu­dents con­sider a project that merges engi­neering and health sci­ences. “We started talking about a med­ical device a person could wear or have at home that would be con­nected to a smart­phone,” he said.

The team took that advice and mod­i­fied it slightly, looking at the suc­cess of prod­ucts like the Nike+ tech­nology that syncs with an iPod or iPhone and the lack of sim­ilar prod­ucts that could be used for phys­ical training by ath­letes or ama­teurs looking to opti­mize their time at the gym. Their device ulti­mately cap­tured the elec­trical sig­nals cre­ated by moving mus­cles and trans­lated that into data that can be used to mea­sure work­outs and track progress over time.

The stu­dents also worked with Greg Cloutier, the project man­ager in the Bouvé Col­lege of Health Sci­ences’ Human Per­for­mance and Exer­cise Sci­ence Lab­o­ra­tory led by Prof. Carmen Sceppa, to deter­mine the best way to inte­grate muscle sen­sors into their design and how to read and inter­pret the data they were gath­ering. Then they tested each phase of their designs, from simple sen­sors attached directly to the skin to a more fin­ished product.

The group pre­sented its pro­to­type to fac­ulty and class­mates in December, but the work is far from done. Mavroidis envi­sions having a ver­sion of SQUID on the market in two or three years.

In addi­tion to Moran and Aas, the SQUID team included mechan­ical and indus­trial engi­neering seniors Adam Morgan, Joe Sheehan, Thomas Wilbur, Kyle Peters and Trevor Lorden and graphic design seniors Amy Schaffer and Alex Morgan.