Three student teams head to CHI finals

Three UMSI student teams will travel to San Jose in May for the second round of the CHI Student Design Competition, held in conjunction with the ACM-CHI international conference, the top conference on Human-Computer Interaction. 

The competition’s design challenge was to put into action this year’s conference theme of “doing good” by creating an assistive technology. Each of the three UMSI projects combines smartphone apps with other technology to address issues ranging from pregnancy symptoms to Alzheimer’s disease to issues facing people with low vision.

The groups will compete with other selected teams in a juried poster presentation at CHI 2016, where four teams will be chosen to advance to a final presentation round. UMSI previously sent three teams to the Student Design Competition in 2015 and four in 2014, including that year’s eventual winner


Dot-it is designed to help women manage the nausea and vomiting symptoms common during early pregnancy. The system’s five functions—relieve, record, explore, schedule and support—operate through a mobile app partnered with a bracelet. The bracelet includes a large, dot-shaped button, which women press when they feel nauseated. 

The button stays pushed until the user releases it, providing two features: recording the time and duration of the episode and relieving the symptoms through acupuncture. The app then uses the data to help users explore their patterns, schedule meetings or events for times when they’re less likely to feel sick, and alert partners to how they are feeling so that the partners can provide support.

The team includes (above, left to right) MSI students Mu-Tsz Chen, Yue Chen, Yih-Harn Chiang, Tzu-I Lee and Jiayi Amy Guo. Watch this video to learn more about their project.


Moments integrates a mobile app with an adjustable wearable device to help early-stage Alzheimer’s patients maintain autonomy and get more exercise by enabling them to walk outdoors alone. Alzheimer’s patients are more likely than others to get lost when walking outside, so the device incorporates GPS not only to track patients but also to empower them. A family member creates routes for the patient to follow by walking around the neighborhood and saving the path along with spoken navigation instructions, which the patient can follow.

Family members can insert content relating to certain locations in order to spark the patient’s memory of happy events—for example, a photo of a grandmother teaching her granddaughter to ride a bike might appear on the screen when the grandmother reaches that spot. The system also features an emergency mechanism to alert caretakers if patients become lost or confused.

Team members include (above, left to right) MSI students Pengfei Wang, Chieh-Lin Wu, Bing-Hsun Wu, Yining Zhou and Yun-Ting Lin. Watch this video to learn more about their project.

Readful U

People with low vision—vision lower than 20/70 after correction—often have difficulty with everyday tasks, including reading. Readful U combines a mobile app with an attachable smartphone stand to help these people access written material and increase their social wellbeing. Some functions are similar to those provided by other assistive technology, such as magnification, brightness control and color contrast adjustment, but without the expense and intrusiveness of that technology.

A less conventional part of the app is its “read for me” function, which promotes both social interaction and information access. Pushing a button on the left-hand side of the device lets users request help reading something from a friend or family member. A button on the right-hand size gives them access to a library of recordings created through social media posts requesting that something written be transformed into audio. The goal is to help people feel a social connection.

Readful U team members include MSI students Fei Ren, Ninglu Wang and Junhui Li (above, left to right) as well as MSI student Ruofan Zhang and MDE student Kai Yu. Watch this video to learn more about their project.

Posted April 1, 2016