Many of the advances
in flight, genomics,
vehicles are the result
of competition for
prize money and
One exception is the 2013 microMedic Contest, just announced by the US Army’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center ( www.tatrc.org). The goal of the contest is to showcase how
microcontrollers and sensors can be used to create open source medical and
healthcare products to improve soldier care in the battlefield, and later as a
veteran. Not only is TATRC offering $25,000 in cash prizes to individuals and
teams ( 18 prizes for those in education; nine for anyone or any team aged 18 or
more and not in education), but Parallax will distribute 100 free microMedic Kits,
valued at $400 each. To qualify for a free kit, simply submit a preliminary
description of your project idea and promise to participate in the contest.
Independent judges will identify which proposals to reward with a free kit.
The microMedic Contest Kit — which isn’t required to
win the contest — is available in either Propeller or Arduino
versions. Each kit includes SPO2, color, pressure,
motion, heart rate, temperature, and Hall-effect
sensors, LED displays, LED bargraphs, and infrared
emitters, as well as a nebulizer, blood pressure
cuff, and infrared remote control.
Highlights of the official rules — available at
www.parallax.com/micromedic — include six
of the potentially
• Most Creative Use of the microMedic Contest Kit;
• Best Integration of Fabrication
• Best Patient Application
• Best Medical Tool or Device;
• Best Medical Training and Simulation Product;
• Best Wireless, Telemedicine, or Robotic Application
contests offer multimillion dollar prizes
and tend to attract
folks like you and me
to simply watch from
Most, but not all.
SERVO 01.2013 29
The timeline is aggressive but doable. You’ll have until July 2013 to
submit your project. The award ceremony will be held in September at the TATRC
Innovation Lab in Fort Detrick, MD. And, with the author’s permission, we’ll
feature the winning projects in upcoming issues of Nuts & Volts.
If you’re an educator, this would be a perfect project for a STEM (Science,
Technology, Engineering, and Math) program for a class, small group, or that
special student. Similarly, if you’re out of school and either part of a robotics
group or a solo microcontroller enthusiast, then this is a good way to focus your
If you’re not one of the 100 to receive free kits, you’re not out of the game.
You can purchase kits from Parallax or use your own microcontroller and sensors.
The contest is hardware agnostic. The only ‘catch’ in the contest is that to be
eligible for an award, your project must be submitted under the Creative
Commons 3.0 Attribution license.
If you’re a typical Nuts & Volts reader, you probably have little training and
exposure to healthcare technology — and that’s the point. TATRC wants the
technology enthusiasts out there to focus on healthcare applications. This may
mean brushing up on basic biology and anatomy, or at least pulling a team
together that includes someone with a medical background. As such, it’s a no-lose proposition. Worst case, you may learn something about human physiology,
medicine and medical electronics — and just maybe — discover your true passion. SV