STEM-In-Action Fall Follow-Up: Lost & Found

Happy Friday! If you're new here, (first, welcome!) every Friday this Fall we have been catching up with our SIA grant recipient teams to see how their projects have progressed since attending our National Judging & Educational Event (NJ&EE) back in June. The U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP) STEM-In-Action Grant awards eCYBERMISSION teams up to $5,000 to develop their projects into mature and scalable solutions in their community. Normally, we award this honorary grant to five teams, but this year ten teams took home the prestigious award. 

Each week, we’ve been catching up with teams to see their amazing progress and this week is no exception. We’re headed out to the West Coast to catch up with Team Lost & Found to see how they’re helping their local community make it easier and more successful at finding missing people.

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We are the team “Lost and Found”, a neighborhood-based team from Portland, Oregon, composed of 8th graders attending Stoller Middle School and RoboRink. We are on a mission to reimagine search-and-rescue with our product “The Third Eye”, a self-charging location monitoring device to track your loved ones!


According to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), over 600,000 US persons went missing in 2018 costing nearly $2B in search and rescue, with our home state Oregon ranking third in the country. An NCIC guideline describes a missing person as those who have gone missing “due to personal choice, an abduction, foul play, a mental or physical disability, or a natural catastrophe, among other reasons.” Since the popularization of the handheld smartphone, many missing people have been located by the use of installations and softwares on these devices that can track the victim. However, in many cases, smartphones and smartwatches are not available, especially in cases of abduction and natural disasters. The most prevalent modern solution to these issues is softwares built into the operating systems of many smartphones. An example of this in Apple devices is Find My, a novel example of GPS technology used in this way. However, due to the often lack of smart devices in such situations, our team set out to create a self-powered, GPS-monitored footwear insole to help solve this issue. Our original design was based only around the self-powered aspect of the design, focusing on a group of materials possessing a property called piezoelectricity (a material property that converts mechanical energy into usable electrical energy). In our second design, we connected a GPS transmitter to the device and focused on making the design more practical in real-life use. In the future, we hope to connect the data through the use of an application on family and friends’ mobile devices that shares the data real-time, and can possibly alert authorities with the push of a button. 


We demonstrated successfully that our integrated solution follows the cost and reliability criterion effectively and efficiently through a series of different tests proving aspects of our design. We tested our power generator through a series of presses on our piezoelectric pad with our thumb. The GPS module was tested by walking outside and then looking at the real-time data. We managed to connect the GPS through Bluetooth using an Android Studio app. We used a few cables to connect the Bluetooth module to the Flora device to finish up our solution. Overall, these aspects came together in our successful Third Eye solution, to track loved ones effectively and with ease.


To address long-range solution we plan to develop a solution similar to how the bird migration is monitored that is a small device that is attached to the bird is capable of sending specific signatures and in high-risk neighborhoods we could install multiple tracking stations that can record the signatures each time they receive the sent device signatures to be able to monitor and communicate location real-time. 

To further our solution using our Stem-in-Action grant money, we are working on connecting our Third Eye device with the user’s phone to easily access data created by the GPS tracker. Using the language Python and the platform Flutter, we are currently developing our initial prototype to gauge the practicality of our app. We are also preparing to build multiple devices and distribute them for our first phase of testing.


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This is truly a project that will make a HUGE difference in Lost & Found’s Portland community and one that could (and probably will) save lives. We on the edge of our seats waiting to see how this project progresses and cannot wait til we can catch up in the Spring.

 

-Mission Control 

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