The Intrapod by Trustle
We are making 3D-printed modular devices and an app to bridge understanding between law enforcement and people with communication disorders.
This is a video we made that describes our idea and how it is solving a major problem in our community.
Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?
Website or social media url(s) (optional):
Date You Started Your Project Started
September 9, 2018
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Start-Up (first few activities have happened)
1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
The Office of Special Education found that people with developmental disorders are seven times more likely to attract the attention of the police, and a 2017 study by Drexel University found that 20 percent of people with ASD have had a run in with law by the age of 21. We hope that our creation will help these individuals get through stressful encounters with law enforcement by preventing misunderstandings.
2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Trustle is creating a sleek, 3D-printed modular device, called the Intrapod, that can alert the police and other emergency services via a mobile application that the device carrier has a communication disorder as well as inform them of other critical information.
Police officers download a mobile application and people with communication disorders purchase an Intrapod. Police officers can then view the carrier's information as well as their disorder before approaching them to avoid a stressful encounter. The police officer needs to get face authenticated before scanning the Intrapod to ensure he/she is indeed with law enforcement. The officer can also submit updates to the carrier's information to aid law enforcement in the future, making the system dynamic.
The Intrapod also notifies the carrier’s caretaker with the carrier's GPS location and and audio records the encounter once it is scanned by the first responder for future reference. This device can help people with communication disorders deal with emergency services if they freeze up as well as provide comfort to their family. People with communication disorders deserve to feel confident and safe in their daily lives.
3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?
Due to ASD (autism spectrum disorder), our community partner Larry has had trouble with the police and had to spend a night in jail due to law enforcement's unfamiliarity with his stimming. Police officers mistook Larry's stimming as a sign that he was suspicious or on drugs. People with ASD typically shut down during encounters with people of high authority, such as police, thus, reducing their means of clarifying their disorder, and they are 7x more likely to have an encounter with the police. As a team, we noticed this to be a common trend and figured it would be best to create a system in which the police could be notified about one's situation without physically needing to speak to the person; thus, we created the Intrapod, which is a dynamic means of communicating to the police via bluetooth. Larry's disorder should never deter him from living his daily life with confidence.
4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”
This is our selfie elevator pitch. Please excuse the bad sound quality; our microphones were a lot worse than we thought. A better video of what we are doing is here (but it is about 3 and a half minutes): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDQrYkn5Np0&t=
5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
We began with one community partner, Larry, but once we realized the prevalence of the issue, we decided that it was important to receive more feedback regarding the usefulness of our idea. One of our team members had been volunteering with people with ASD through Skype calls in order to help improve their sociability, so we used this relationship to create a conversation about what features would be most helpful to them individually based on their own experiences. With that, we formed a list of features that needed to be included for maximum efficiency and lowest redundancy. One of the most resounding comments was that the parents of the people with ASD felt more reassured with our product. Through it was more a hypothetical idea at that point, we had created a sense of security for the parents while in the meanwhile created a sense of independence for the person on the spectrum.
6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
Currently, communication bands are niche, comprised of no commercialized products like ours. The most similar product is the use of individual interaction cards (AutismID Cards) which are handed out by local Autism centers and is supposed to be handed to law enforcement officer during an encounter. There are 2 reasons why this method is highly ineffective in practice: 1.) The cards are flimsy and are easy to lose. 2.) The individual will likely forget about this card under the stress of a real police confrontation. Our design is laser focused on solving these issues.
7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
Our project has helped Larry as well as other people with communication disorders. We plan to sell the Intrapod to those with communication disorders, but our success is inevitably determined by how many officers have the corresponding app to the Intrapod. Officers need the app for the Intrapod to be useful. As such, we have reached out to multiple police departments in our area and have had the support and wisdom of the UNT police department from the beginning. After all, our goal is to make understanding accessible to the officers, as the ones with communication disorders cannot be expected to communicate with the officers directly. Thus far, we have been spreading the word of our idea and won the 2019 Inventor's Challenge. We also pitched our idea at the Stanford d.school and got some really valuable feedback. Above all, talking to families like Larry's has been extremely helpful.
8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
The next level is a matter of production and implementation. Not only do we seek to strengthen our community ones by expanding our outreach to more community members, but we seek to pursue more relationships financially. We know our idea--the what, the how, and the who--but the main struggle is to actually produce it and put it out there, which begins with fundraising. This step up from prototyping has been developing relationships with potential sponsors and receiving grants so that we can put the product out on the market and create that mitigation between negative encounters between people with ASD and law enforcement. By maximizing our resources, we increase our ability to actually help people, which is all we want to do.
9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?
10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Donations less than $100
Donations between $100-$1k
How did you hear about this challenge?