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Device to help severely mentally ill patients to quit smoking

Design Award

  • Design Excellence Award Honorable Mention

Project Overview

We propose a design for a system, called the Pack Pal, to help severely mentally ill patients quit smoking. This project is in conjunction with clients from last semester including: Dr. David Gustafson, an emeritus research professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering, director of the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his colleagues from Dartmouth College, Dr. Mary Brunnette (MD), an Associate professor of psychiatry, and Dr. Joelle Ferron, an Assistant professor of psychiatry. A BME 200/300 team worked on this project last semester and developed the basics of a design and made progress on the circuit design. This semester the team would like to continue to work, under the guidance of our advisor Amit Nimunkar. This project will require high-level fabrication skills (the team is in contact with a professional in this field to help determine next steps), printed circuit board (PCB) design and learning to design a battery operated device for use in research. Students working on this project will be designing for a specific population (individuals with severe mental illness) and will be required to take additional consideration into how to best suit the needs of the client and the users. The team intends to develop several functional prototypes that the clients need for clinical trials in late April.
The proposed system consists of a cigarette case and a smartphone application. This system will provide the user with a full time coach to aid in their quitting attempt. The case is equipped with multiple infrared LED sensors and a linear actuator locking mechanism. A button will indicate an opening attempt and the sensors will detect the number of cigarettes removed. Upon being accessed the case interacts with the smartphone wirelessly via Bluetooth (v4.0), sending ASCII characters corresponding to sensor activation. Each time the user accesses the case; the smartphone application will take the data sent from the case and format it appropriately. A copy of the formatted data will be reported weekly to the patient’s healthcare professional. Data will also be available through the smartphone application in an easily accessible and understandable manner for the users so that they can monitor their progress throughout the quitting process. Overtime, the users will gain knowledge about their smoking habits and will be able to hold themselves accountable for their cigarette use. They will practice distraction techniques (e.g., playing a video game, listening to music or engaging in another related activity), to deter them from smoking.

Team Picture

Team members from left to right: Paul Strand, Douglas Ciha, Gustavo Zach Vargas, Robert Carson
Team members from left to right: Paul Strand, Douglas Ciha, Gustavo Zach Vargas, Robert Carson


Contact Information

Team Members

  • Robert Carson, BME 301 - Team Leader
  • Gustavo Vargas, BME 301 - Communicator
  • Paul Strand, BME 301 - BSAC
  • Douglas Ciha, BME 301 - BWIG

Advisor and Client

  • Dr. Amit Nimunkar - Advisor
  • Prof. David Gustafson - Client
  • Dr. Amit Nimunkar - Alternate Contact

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