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Pitt Awards $565K to Innovative Wearable Technology Ideas that Tackle Health Care Problems

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 27, 2017 – The final event in the Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh®) concluded with the award of $565,000 in funding to innovative projects featuring wearable devices that address problems in health care.
 
The challenge, which is in its fourth year, was sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI). The central question addressed by this year’s contestants was, “How can we use wearable technology to address an important health problem?”
 
“Wearable technology capabilities are advancing rapidly, and this year’s PInCh final showcased how this technology can make a difference in health care,” said CTSI director Steven Reis, M.D., who also is associate vice chancellor for clinical research, health sciences, and a distinguished professor of medicine at Pitt’s School of Medicine
 
After two rounds of pre-selection, 13 teams were invited to compete at the final pitch event. Three projects took home $100,000 to $125,000 each in funding, seven received $10,000 to $30,000, and three others received $10,000 on Oct. 25 during an evening filled with live presentations and posters at the University Club in Oakland. Funds to support 2017 PInCh awards were provided by DSF Charitable Foundation, the charitable-giving organization of the David Scaife family.
 
$100,000 to $125,000 Projects
 
• MOVISU-Fit: Mobile gait training system for lower limb amputees that provides real-time visual feedback from an integrated sensor in the prosthetic limb.
 
• Purrr: A convenient, wearable and intuitive tool that detects rising stress levels and empowers people to effortlessly control it.
 
• ThermalBlock: A reversible thermal block technology to suppress or completely disrupt peripheral nerve activity without causing tissue damage or pain 
 
$25,000 to $30,000 Projects
 
• FitIt: A smart, adjustable and self-monitoring compression stocking for patients with chronic venous insufficiency, a condition that affects blood flow from veins in the leg back to the heart.
 
• interACTION: ADL Module: Wearable, technology-based, behavioral intervention for chronic low back pain that assesses activities of daily living and actively informs a customized treatment plan.
 
• OH Alert!: Wearable technology that assesses individualized heart rate variability data to predict and warn a person of potential fall due to orthographic hypotension, a low blood pressure condition.
 
• uHaptic: A wearable for upper or lower limb prostheses that will interface with existing and future stimulation systems to provide life-like sensory feedback to the wearer.
 
• REMIT DM: A technology that combines continuous glucose monitors with temporary intensive insulin therapy to restore a diabetic’s ability to make his or her own insulin  
 
• FLO2 NeuroCap: A non-invasive technology to monitor brain oxygenation and neuronal activity in children after cardiac arrest or other brain injury.
 
• Manual Wheelchair Virtual Seating Coach: A system to help manual wheelchair users learn and remember to do adequate pressure reliefs to prevent the development of pressure ulcers.
 
$10,000 Awards
 
• FingerSight: New wearable technology patented by Pitt that replaces eye motion with finger motion, allowing visually impaired users to scan the environment and rapidly find and identify objects by means of computer vision algorithms.
 
• I-HITS: An individualized hand improvement and tracking system, which allows patients with stroke to monitor their hand movement and enables therapists to deliver treatment remotely.
 
• MagicSocks: Smart textile wearable device for treatment of restless leg syndrome that delivers controlled electrical and vibrational stimulations to lower extremities.
 
This year’s challenge included a Veteran Impact Incentive, with solutions directly impacting U.S. military veterans being eligible for up to an additional $25,000 in funding. Projects MOVISU-Fit and Purrr received an additional $25,000 in awards and projects uHaptic and Manual Wheelchair Virtual Seating Coach received an additional $5,000 in awards.
 
Project videos can be viewed on the PInCh website.

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