Fifteen-year-old Kenneth Shinozuka of New York City won the $50,000 Scientific American Science in Action Award in August for his invention of a wearable sensor for Alzheimer's patients. The prize, part of the Google Science Fair, recognizes a teen for an innovation that can make a practical difference by addressing an environmental, health or resources challenge.
Shinozuka's creation—a small pressure sensor that can be attached to a foot or a sock—notifies caregivers via their smartphones if a patient who should be sleeping gets out of bed. His grandfather, who has Alzheimer's disease, served as inspiration. “I don't think I will ever forget my shock at seeing Grandfather in his pajamas, accompanied by a policeman who found him wandering on a nearby freeway in the middle of the night,” Shinozuka says. He designed the sensor to keep his grandfather safe and to provide much needed relief to his aunt, the primary caregiver. Shinozuka recently demonstrated the technology at a local chapter of the Alzheimer's Association and a number of care facilities. He has obtained a U.S. patent for his invention.