[nfbmi-talk] msu designs talking insulin pump prototype

Jordyn Castor jordyn2493 at gmail.com
Sun Dec 28 18:09:17 UTC 2014

This is awesome! Go green for sure. :)

I have also worked with Stephen and the College of Engineering designing accessible 3-D anatomy models useable by a blind student. We attached Braille and audio labels to the models, and they were sent to a school for the blind in India.

So many amazing things have come from the partnership with the college of Engineering and the Resource Center for Person's With Disabilities at MSU. So cool.
> On Dec 27, 2014, at 5:02 PM, Terry D. Eagle via nfbmi-talk <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> MSU students design prototype for talking insulin pump 
> The first time August Garrett and his classmates heard an insulin pump talk,
> "it was
> kind of celebratory," the Michigan State University engineering student
> student said. They had spent much of their fall semester trying to make it
> do just that. The four seniors from MSU's Department of Electrical and
> Computer Engineering weredeveloping a prototype for a possible solution to a
> potentially
> fatal problem: how to help visually impaired diabetics administer proper
> dosages of insulin. Their plan? Use a voice chip that reads out the names of
> the
> different buttons on an insulin pump when a user touches them. If it works,
> the students hope to publish their research to help other engineers design
> medical devices and other appliances to be accessible to people with
> disabilities. And companies that make insulin pumps one day could be able to
> serve customers whose needs now are largely unmet. "If you're looking at an
> insulin pump for example, at the screen there's a chance that you might
> misread it.
> If you have audio feedback, that provides a verification, which is very
> important in a device like this," said Stephen Blosser, assistive technology
> specialist
> with MSU's Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities, who helped
> coordinate the students' work. "It's an independence issue. It's more than
> just an
> inconvenience," Blosser said. "It's something that people that are blind
> should have available to them. Diabetes is linked to a condition called
> diabetic
> retinopathy, which can cause blindness in adults. More than half of the 18
> million adult diabetics in the U.S. were affected, according to a 2008
> report
> from the National Institutes of Health. The condition can be treated with
> surgery. Insulin pumps offer diabetics an alternative to the daily
> injections
> that many use to regulate their blood sugar. The devices, inserted into the
> skin, administer insulin through a catheter in regular doses or in larger
> amounts
> at meals. A computer inside the pump allows patients to program their
> insulin doses to best fit their needs. But some older diabetics and those
> with visual
> impairments can have a hard time reading labels on the pump's buttons or
> small print on electronic screens. It's a problem that could be lethal
> should
> they accidentally give themselves the wrong dose. The prototype being
> developed at MSU is designed to fit existing insulin pumps.. Asante
> Solutions Inc.,
> a Sunnyvale, California-based firm that develops medical devices for
> diabetics, donated two pumps and batteries to the project and helped teach
> the students
> how to interact electronically with the company's system. "This is an
> important area, as diabetes and visual impairment are closely related," Mark
> Estes,
> Asante's chief product architect, said via email. "We are thrilled with the
> progress they made. Researchers said they rejected ideas to add Braille to
> the buttons in part out of concern that some diabetics might have lost
> sensitivity in their fingers after daily pricks to test blood sugar levels,
> in part
> because some patients might never have learned Braille and to use Bluetooth
> technology to connect the pumps to cellphones because of security concerns
> related to patients' medical information. Instead, they settled on a sensor
> available on most cellphone touch screens and connected it to a speech chip,
> said Garrett, 22, an electrical engineering major from Canton who graduated
> this month and worked on the project. One of his classmates, Caitlin Ramsey,
> recorded her voice saying the names of various functions on the insulin
> pumps "to give it more of a human element," said Garrett, who will start a
> job
> in General Motors Co. s powertrain engineering department in January. "I am
> pretty optimistic that, with a little bit more refining, it is something
> that
> could be on (the market) someday," he said. Blosser hopes it happens. If he
> can secure about $4,000 in additional funding, he plans to recruit a new
> group
> of students this spring semester to build on the previous students' work.
> The team has not yet been able to make the device fully functional. If they
> can,
> he said they'll turn their attention to making it smaller and more portable.
> "We're not in the business of making insulin pumps. There are people out
> there
> already doing it," Blosser said. "We're not after the patents and the
> funding. We're just trying to make society more accessible.
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