New technology emerges from students’ time in a cutting-edge lab

technology-labImagine a football helmet with brain wave probes and a device that measures acceleration forces to detect concussions on the field and directly communicate the information to medical staff.

Or a bike recovery network that uses tracking technology and a network of “smart” bike racks to text the owner and police the moment a bike is stolen, and the moment the thief parks it in another rack with the same technology.

Maybe a wristband that looks like a Fitbit, programmed by a pharmacist through Bluetooth to vibrate and light up to remind people when to take specific medications.

During the past two semesters, teams of students at University of Wisconsin-Madison brainstormed these devices and a couple dozen others in the university’s Internet of Things Lab.

“Internet of Things” refers to a new generation of devices that measure, monitor and control the physical world by talking with each other via the internet. The only human involvement is creating and programming them.

“Imagine everything you touch could have an internet connection with sensing and data, and it could do more,” said Sandra Bradley, the lab’s research director for consumer and retail applications. “Your refrigerator keeps things cold. What if it could give you shopping lists or monitor spoilage of food? This is about things people touch every day, and say, ‘What if?'”

(Next page: How teams of students develop next-generation prototypes)

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