Undergraduate team designs shirt to detect poor posture, decrease injuries

Isha Arora working on wiring and setting up the arduino.
Isha Arora (College of Engineering BME '24), a member of the ExoGuard product development sub-team, working on wiring and setting up the arduino.

Meet the Biomedical Device (BMD) team, a multidisciplinary undergraduate project team at work this past year designing ExoGuard, a wearable postural analysis system.  

The inspiration for ExoGuard came by way of a conversation with a team member’s father, a firefighter who spoke to the group about how first responders often face conditions that involve bending, lifting, and squatting that often leads to strains and injuries. From this conversation the team set out to devise a solution to this problem. Working in sub-teams in product development, business, policy, and design over the past year, BMD spent last fall brainstorming product ideas, spring focusing on product development, and are now creating a prototype for a breathable shirt with embedded electronics to monitor body movement and provide feedback when a patient’s position is dangerous to their musculoskeletal system.

​  The ExoGuard product is a breathable shirt with embedded electronics to monitor body movement and provide feedback when a patient’s position is dangerous to their musculoskeletal system. ​
The ExoGuard product is a breathable shirt with embedded electronics to monitor body movement and provide feedback when a patient’s position is dangerous to their musculoskeletal system.

The ExoGuard team sees their product as valuable not only to firefighters, but also a diverse set of consumers--including the elderly, nursing assistants, and construction and landscape workers--who often encounter situations that lead to back injuries. 

With the challenge of the pandemic, “It’s been an interesting journey to say the least!” says Ashmitha Sivakumar, a BME major and ExoGuard team member. “We have sat through many meetings discussing feasibility, market research, and responses we’ve gotten from medical professionals. But meeting our goals each week and hearing doctors and other professionals’ excitement about our product has kept us motivated. Through it all, we remain connected with our teammates albeit through Zoom and have socials when we can to get to know each other more.”

Biomedical Device (BMD), also known as Biomedical Device at Cornell, is a project team of Cornell undergraduate students formed under the shared mission “to design devices that solve current problems in healthcare.” A majority of the members are majoring in a biology or human health-related field including biomedical engineering (BME), biological engineering (BEE), global and public health sciences, human biology health and society, biology, and human development, with additional members majoring in data sciences like electrical and computer engineering and computer science. Working within an interdisciplinary environment like this is a strength of the group, says Sivakumar, because “it allowed me to gain exposure to areas such as business and marketing, particularly understanding the market for the product we are developing and understanding how ours differs from competitors.”

A portion of the team also works to continue development of BMD products from previous years, such as BruxFree, an over-the-ear Bluetooth device to help people with Awake Bruxism, a prevalent dental disorder often induced by stress and anxiety. However, ExoGuard has been the main focus this past year.

The ExoGuard team is advised by Meinig School faculty James Antaki, Ph.D., the Susan K. McAdam Professor of Heart Assist Technology, who describes the BMD students as “amongst the most motivated self-starting, pro-active, networking, ambitious, productive undergraduates I have ever encountered. It is a pleasure and an honor to be associated with their project.”

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More about Biomedical Device at Cornell (also known as Biomedical Device, or BMD): BMD is a team of multidisciplinary undergraduate students formed under a shared interest for biomedical device innovation to further advance healthcare. As aspiring physicians and biomedical engineers, BMD team members are inspired to decrease costs while creating devices that provide solutions to problems in the biotech industry. Their mission is to identify challenges in the field of biomedical devices and innovate solutions to said problems, and compete in biomedical engineering competitions with our ideas.

Donations from individual and corporate sponsor help drive BMD’s mission and projects forward. Learn more about the team and how to sponsor in this sponsorship packet

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