Syamantak Payra, a student at Clear Brook High School in Friendswood, Texas, received one of two Intel Foundation Young Scientist Awards worth US$ 50,000 for developing a low-cost electronically-aided knee brace that allows an individual with a weakened leg to walk more naturally. Syamantak tested his prototype on two people partially disabled by polio, and it instantly increased their mobility and restored a more natural pace, according to a statement.
Approximately 6 million people who suffer from multiple sclerosis, spinal injury, polio or other problems walk using a leg brace, the teen notes. Those mechanisms typically are very expensive, don't bend at the knee and require a lot of training to use properly.
Syamantak's device is both inexpensive and easy to use. It has a motor that enables the knee to bend. A small computer that controls the motor can be kept in the wearer's pocket or clipped to a belt. The computer receives signals from a sensor that reports the position of the opposite leg. Moreover, the new device can be used with less than an hour of training, Syamantak notes. He designed some "clever" software in the system's computer that learns how the user walks. The more the device is used, the better it performs.
"Intel congratulates this year's winners and hopes that their work will inspire other young innovators to apply their curiosity and ingenuity to today's global challenges," said Rosalind Hudnell, Vice President of Human Resources, Director of Corporate Affairs at Intel Corporation, and President of the Intel Foundation. "This international science and engineering exhibition is an excellent example of what can be achieved when students from different backgrounds, perspectives and geographies come together to share ideas and solutions."
The 2016 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair featured more than 1,700 young scientists selected among more than 7 million high school students from 419 affiliate fairs in 77 countries, regions and territories. At the event, these young innovators share ideas, showcase cutting-edge research, and compete for more than US$ 4 million in awards and scholarships.
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