Source : Tech Trends

School children are using Internet of Things technology to tackle mental health challenges.

The Longitude Explorer Prize, run by innovation foundation Nesta and supported IBM, aims to inspire students to tackle a modern challenge through innovative use of technology, and this year 60 per cent of the finalists have chosen to focus on combating mental health issues.

This fits in with a broader trend which has seen the importance of mental healthcare provision highlighted by high-profile advocates such as Princes William and Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge.

“Our team chose to look at mental health issues because this topic is becoming more and more important due to the rise of mental health in young people. Mental health is quite often brushed over and with school becoming more stressful for students, we feel our product would be in high demand and would help thousands of people,” said a representative from the Bright Day team at Ursuline Academy, Ilford.

Their idea – the “Breathe Watch” – is a wristband that monitors the symptoms of a panic attack and provides calming down techniques via a mobile phone or tablet. The app will also monitor where you have panic attacks to establish patterns. A person of the wearer’s choice can also be alerted about the panic attack.

“Many people do not understand what having a panic attack is like for the person and therefore find it difficult to notice and help. A friend of ours explained how she would be at the peak of her panic attack (generally 10 minutes into it) before anyone noticed. In a school a teacher has on average 30 pupils to handle and may not be able to detect that something is wrong with one of them.Our idea helps by notifying others when someone needs help.”

Constance Agyeman, who leads the prize in Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre says, “The challenge prize structure aims to inspire the next generation of inventors. It also gives school students the opportunity to work together creatively to try and solve the issues that really matter to them. Interestingly, this year half of our finalists chose to focus on mental health. School children are increasingly using technology on a daily basis, we want them to realise that they don’t just have to be consumers, they can take an active role in imagining how technology can be used to tackle societal problems.”

“We think it is important to not only raise awareness about mental health issues but also to tackle them. And we believe technology is the solution. With the endless capabilities of the IoT solutions development, we want to create an effective device that could help an individual to combat their ongoing issues. As the use of the IoT is becoming increasingly popular we feel it is important enhance our knowledge in this area,” a representative from Bright Day concluded.

These are the 10 finalist teams of 11-16 year olds who will now begin working with IBM specialist staff to turn their ideas into reality. The teams will be trained in the use of cutting edge cognitive computing tools, intelligent platforms that are able to think, understand and learn. Their prototypes will then be presented to a judging panel on July 13th when the overall winner of the prize will be announced.