Rochester, N.Y. - A family tragedy led to innovation for an RIT student and two of his friends.
Nick Desaulniers lost his father unexpectedly in the middle of his sophomore year.
Nick's father had a heart attack, but was expected to make a full recovery. While in the hospital, he died of another heart attack in his sleep. He was not hooked up to a heart monitor.
"I asked the doctors about that and they said, 'Well, he wasn't in the intensive care unit,'" Desaulniers said. "I was like, 'What difference does it make? Shouldn't every patient have monitoring equipment?'"
But current monitoring devices are expensive. That got Nick thinking.
"I thought I could put a little device together that would transfer these signals, and the parts wouldn't even cost me a hundred dollars," he said.
Desaulniers recruited fellow RIT students Nick Sereni and Cody Cziesler to help create a small monitoring device that fits on a person's finger.
The trio developed their first prototype as part of their senior design class.
Biotelemetrix uses an inexpensive microprocessor, similar to the tiny chip found in cell phones.
That microprocessor interprets physiological signals through sensors and a wireless signal. The data is then transferred to a server that can be accessed by multiple users through a secure Website.
"Any device that has a web interface, you can view this signal on," Desaulniers said. "Whether it's a doctor sitting on a beach, checking in his patients on his cell phone to a nurse doing rounds with her tablet, to the first responder who's going to be notified at the hospital sitting at their desktop."
The team describes the device as "Life Alert on steroids."
"It's just very ironic because the person I'd want this device to save ... I can't bring my dad back," Desaulniers said.
But the Biotelemetrix technology might be able to save other dads.
Dr. Roy Melton, an RIT professor and faculty advisor to the three students, says he's inspired by the work they’ve done.