July 27, 2016
Kenneth Shinozuka, 17--CEO, SensaRx
Shinozuka is the youngest person on our list, but his youth hasn't stopped him from tackling a major problem. Inspired by a problem he witnessed firsthand with a loved one, he created the SafeWander system to alert caregivers when patients wander. The system consists of a small sensor worn by the patient, a gateway plugged in near the patient's bed, and a mobile device app. Caregivers are alerted by the system when a patient gets up.
Besides leading a company and developing a new technology, Shinozuka has other big adventures ahead--college. He graduated from Horace Mann School in the Bronx in June and is headed to Harvard in the fall.
What's next--in his own words: "I am starting mass production of the SafeWander sensors, pursuing an aggressive marketing campaign, and piloting my technology in two large-scale care facilities."
What are the biggest factors that helped you become a young innovator? "I've never seen my age as a significant factor. I saw a problem--my grandfather frequently wandered out of bed at night--and summoned my passion for inventing senior care technology to create a solution. That could happen at any age. That being said, my parents definitely nurtured my love for technology from a very young age. When I was four or five years old, I often accompanied them to their civil engineering labs at the university where they taught. Additionally, I was very close to my grandparents since I grew up in a three-generation household. The loving bond that I shared with them fostered my desire to help them whenever they struggled from health-related problems."
What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far? "I have always sought to create a sensor system that could benefit everyone's needs, not just those of one particular group of people. When I tested my first prototype of my sensor--back then still a pressure sensor attached onto a sock--on my grandfather, SafeWander was able to detect 100% of his nightly wanderings. But when I tested it on a broader range of patients in several local care facilities, I discovered that some patients would take off the sensor whenever it was placed on their foot. It took me several months of concerted effort to think of an alternative solution that could be attached onto the patient's clothes in an unobtrusive, discrete way. That process ultimately gave birth to the SafeWander Button Sensor, which is screwed onto a patient's shirt through a cap-and-twist method and is the version of SafeWander that we're currently selling on our website. This sensor is much more secure than the sock prototype; when we tested it at a large care institution last summer, none of the trial patients took it off."
[Image courtesy of KENNETH SHINOZUKA]
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