Inspiration

Matthew was enthusasitic to work with the hardware featured here. Months ago, he was in an accident that required physical therapy, and so he wanted to focus on something that could help athlete injuries. When the team met together, we knew right away we wanted to focus on athlete enchacement, so we brainstormed several ideas. Matthew was a former varsity track runner, so the team decided to focus on something that could help a runner's form. That's how we eventually arrived at the Ekin, the insole gait analysis tool.

What it does

Ekin is designed to observe and analysis the running form of the user. It is equipped with technology that allows it to sense where a user's foot is emphasized during normal gait and running form. It compiles the data to a web page that the user can review to better understand their form.

How we built it

The Ekin is divided into 3 fundamental pieces: the analysis equipment, the data visualization/viewing application, and the model and fastener. Rui and Andy set to work on getting the analysis equipment up and running. The Ekin required portability, since it was to be affixed to a walking medium. They decided to use an Arduino matched with a bread board and pressure pad. Matthew and Zach began development on the analysis visualizer, with Zach running the client-side webpage and Matthew handling the back-end data storage. Zach used focused on his strengths, which included HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript (with a focus on node.js). Matthew learned a few new tools, and implemented a couple old ones, when he set up the Apache server on AWS and attached it to a database using MongoDB. Alex focused on the model for the device, using a range of craft tools to construct a model to fasten the device to.

Challenges we ran into

Once the pieces were working independently, we had issues putting them all together. The analysis equiment (Arduino) was designed to communicate through Bluetooth wireless signal. However, our viewing application server (Apache) required HTTP POST in order to communicate over Bluetooth, something that no one on the team had a firm understanding of. Matthew soon figured out that Apache had no way to communicate through POST, and he quickly typed up his own web server. Later on in development, we discovered that the scope of our project had spread the team thin, weakening areas that needed to be addressed. The data visualization application was enormously difficult to bring together, when it needed to be connected to the Arduino, the database, and the web server. This was the team's most difficult challenge and took multiple people (Matthew, Rui, and Zach) working together to hash out the details and finally get the visualization tool up and running.

Accomplishments that we're proud of

The model was one successful endeavor that we are proud of. Matthew in particular expresses pride in its form and achievement. Alex is also proud of the model. Rui is proud of his persistence and endurance, going so far as drinking 12 Red Bulls in 2 days! Andy is proud of his achievement in setting up the Bluetooth capabilities of the Arduino, especially concerning his unfamiliarity with it. Zach is proud of his state-of-the-art design decisions regarding the web page.

What we learned

Matthew found the experience rewarding, discovering that although he can do many things in Python, that isn't always the case. Alex learned that he had quite the knack for crafts and what it means to stay awake 24+ hours working. Rui learned that League of Legends has split-screen mode.

What's next for Ekin

We have plans to make Ekin into a legitimate product, but we careful considerations for the technology we produce it in. For example, the Arduino doesn't have WiFi capabilities, which was an initial desire. The sensory technology we used could have been easier depending on the equipment, so those decisions need to be reevaluated. The web application needs to be expanded, ideally including a user login and more comprehensive data analysis.

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