A team of students from The University of Toledo College of Engineering’s Maker Society won first place in the Lawrence Technological University’s Innovation Encounter, a competition infusing creativity and challenge into an entrepreneurial boot camp.
Teams from UToledo, the University of Michigan, Rowan University, Ohio Northern University and Lawrence Technological University were tasked with solving a real-world problem: Improve driver safety by combating loss of tire pressure.Eaton Corp. and its automotive group, which sponsored the event, chose the challenge because the vast majority of drivers have unsafe tire pressure, resulting in more than 11,000 accidents and 200 deaths each year.
The challenge had one major stipulation: The solution must cost less than $200 per vehicle.
UToledo’s team chose to focus on educating and incentivizing people to maintain their own tire pressure.
The students developed a $30 electronic device a user can install on the vehicle that reports when tire pressure is low. The technology communicates with a smartphone app to explain how to fill the tire up with air on the specific make and model of the vehicle, show the location of nearby tire-filling stations, and give recommendations on air compressors for purchase. The app also works with the device to detect when a car skids or loses traction due to low tire pressure and sends a notification to the driver instructing him or her on how to fix it.
At the Oct. 18-19 competition, the team used a 3-D printer to create the device and designed the app.
“We were able to deliver a solution that the judges had no idea existed,” said Charles Wade, president of the UToledo Maker Society and a junior majoring in computer science and engineering. “This is a problem that Eaton and the industry as a whole have been working on for more than 100 years, and they are pleased that our team was able to deliver new ideas to the problem space.”