Smart Move

Redesigning how people with disabilities and injuries can move through smart prosthetics.

Photo of Riya
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Date You Started Your Project Started


Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Idea (hoping to get started in the future)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

There are about 2.1 million people in the world with limb loss and amputations. These patients often resort to getting prosthetics in hope to reinstate their motor functions. However, even with prosthetics, they are unable to return to their normal lives. A majority of athletes can no longer play on their team and the service of military personnel is cut short due to injuries. Passions, experience, and life goals are terminated without choice.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We strongly believe that despite any injury a person has had, they should not be held back from their passions or daily activity. Smart Move is a smart prosthetic that will be built on the basis of artificial intelligence and machine learning. The prosthetic will initially only serve the elementary functions of a normal prosthetic such as walking, joint connection, and weight-bearing. However, the more the prosthetic is worn, the more it will adapt to its user. It will learn how its user runs, spins, kicks, jumps, bends, other moves and will overall learn the techniques and styles of the individual. Through Smart Move, an individual will be given the chance to retrain his/her leg, arm, or any other amputated body part to function in the same way that it originally did. This will ultimately allow people who have had amputations or limb losses to regain abilities in sports, military, and other daily activities. We hope that along with returning lost abilities, Smart Move will decrease the number of people in a state of depression due to injuries and also improve the quality of their lives.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

Two years ago when we were playing in the park, Riya fell off the bar. Her leg felt paralyzed and she was unable to walk. We went to the doctor who told her that her leg had gone through serious strain and that there was no exact diagnosis. As a result, she may not be able to ever dance again. She completely broke down. She had been dancing since her first steps. Riya could not imagine life without dance and cried for weeks. However, after 6 months of caution, bed rest, crutches, and balm treatment, her leg finally recovered, and she was able to dance again. She was overcome with joy, but our family recognized how fortunate she was. We realized that many people have experienced graver injuries such as limb loss and aren’t able to return to their passions and careers. It doesn’t seem fair. We decided then that we wanted to do something to help them and this is our first step.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Mark is a 27-year-old who used to play basketball for the LA Lakers. However, for the past 2 years, he has undergone 3 rounds of chemo and had to have his right leg amputated due to the growing tumor in it. He is now cancer-free but is no longer able to play. He wants to return to b-ball. We provide Mark with a smart prosthetic and he begins to retrain his leg. He first uses the prosthetic to complete everyday activities during which the prosthetic learns how Mark walks, stops, sits, and moves. Mark then proceeds to practice running, jumping, shooting and scrimmaging. Slowly over time, Mark’s prosthetic leg adapts to his playing style and Mark is able to return to b-ball. He decides to take up the position as a University basketball coach to help train future generations. Once built, Smart Move will be able to help 100s of individuals like Mark return to their dreams and passions.

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

The goal of current intelligent prosthetics is to provide users with a stronger connection to their limbs and greater sensation. However, these prosthetics do not allow individuals to return to athletic activities. Moreover, these prosthetics have a pre-determined set of functions that they are built to do which is a limiting factor. On the other hand, Smart Move will be applicable to everyone because rather than building a prosthetic with capped capabilities, the prosthetic itself will develop its functions by learning from its user helping return lost abilities.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

At a research stage, the University of Washington has made many discoveries in prosthetics. Researchers have been able to 3-D print prosthetics and design them to send back information on how they are being used. We will build on this research for Smart Move. In the future, we will conduct a series of research studies to see the effect Smart Move has on patients and to see anticipated improvement in the mobility of lost limbs. We hope that after the research studies we are able to start connecting with hospitals who can directly provide the prosthetic for patients. We will measure impact through the number of hospitals providing the prosthetic, the number of Smart Move prosthetics being produced, the number of patients using it, and also through the stories and outcomes of the patients. Our goal is to have 20,000 successful patients using Smart Move three years after it is released.

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

As a CS major at the University of Washington, Riya will start research related to artificial intelligence and prosthetics at UW. She aims to join Sander’s Prosthetic Science & Technology Lab which has been working on developing devices that can continuously monitor min-by-min changes in the limbs of amputees. Furthermore, also at UW in 2018, researchers built a canine machine learning system that was capable of planning like a dog, learning from a dog, and acting like one. Smart Move will follow a similar pattern as the smart prosthetic will learn from its user, adapt to its user, and develop its functionalities accordingly. We will use the past research done to build an independent study for Smart Move as the 1st step towards our project.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Research

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 100%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 33.3%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 33.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 66.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 50%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 66.7%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Leanne Joyce

At age 12, I had to stop my involvement with competitive sports as a result of cardiac changes. It became life threatening to exert my heart which left me absolutely devastated. I understand the importance of reintegrating athletes and the general public into their daily routines prior to amputation. I see a lot of opportunity with this project and I would recommend continuing to work alongside your university.

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