Following these parameters, Winterink’s and Blusummers’ project measures pressure points at three different points on your feet and records this information at up to 180 times a second. It can also display and process this information in real time. “Originally, we were planning on two pressure points – one in the ball of the foot and one in the heel,” Winterink explains. “But I was advised to add a third sensor in the front of the foot, and we used these two ‘forward’ sensors to measure pronation, which is the rotational movement of the foot.”
The students’ biggest design goal was functionality. “Our project really did always work when we were demoing it,” said Winterink. “Even though it's this little inexpensive student prototype project, we saw no reason why we couldn't make it simply work and work simply.”
Making it work simply involved making a few changes along the way. “At the start, we wanted to have a bunch of games to show off, like monkeyball or some other video game – like the Wii fit – so we had to cut out that stuff, keeping it simple so it would work in front of a crowd,” he explains. “It isn't too difficult to write a joystick driver, and plug in somebody else's game, but it's particularly hard to guarantee that it will always work,” he continues. “And we wanted to have everything going on the iPhone, which would have added another layer of complexity versus putting it on a Mac, just because we were more familiar with the Mac.”
In the end, their demonstration app proved to simply work and it also worked simply. “It showed what the hardware could do, and some places we could take this, whether for gamers, athletes, or medicine.”
Despite their success in winning the UC section of the TI contest, they remain modest. “We thought there were a lot of other cooler and/or better projects at UC,” said Winterink. “It just came down to having a polished, finished, ‘product’ that worked well, was easy to demo and understand and present, and was well-documented.”
Winterink thinks that one of the coolest things about winning this contest, along with design validation for the winners, is the possibilities it creates. “UC is a partner school in this contest, so it always provides fantastic exposure to the other contestants,” he said. “Last year there were over 600 students registered and in 2010, two SECS students, one of whom went on to work for TI after graduation, won the national competition.”
It is Competitions like the TI Analog Design Contest that continue to showcase UC’s connection to future technology.