News

"SmartCollar" team earns People's Choice honors at Cornell Cup USA

5/8/2014

The University of Illinois “SmartCollar” student project won the People's Choice Award at the recent Cornell Cup USA competition. The $1,000 People's Choice Award was given to the team with the most votes by attendees of the event.

The Illinois team was among the 34 finalists for the annual competition. Team members included undergraduate students Logan Wan (MechSE), Brian Chien, Shugo Tanaka, Gabriel Hruskovec, and Anarghya Mitra (ECE); dog trainer Eva Alvarez (animal sciences); plus mentors Aadeel Akhtar (MD/PhD student, neuroscience), and Dan Block (instructor, ECE).

SmartCollar is a harness for dogs employed in the fields of the military, law enforcement agencies and search-and-rescue teams. It uses the Intel Quark-powered Galileo board with sensors such as GPS and IMU to determine the dog’s current position and status.

The dog is able to communicate with its handler by assuming a particular state (sitting down, for example) in order to notify him/her about something of interest in the field. Onboard speakers attached to the device allow the handler to communicate directly with the animal, to give orders for continued searching or to return.

Communication between the dog and the handler is handled via an Android application, which uses a map overlay to inform the handler of the location of all the dogs with our device currently on the field. SmartCollar harnesses the enhanced senses dogs possess with the latest of today’s wearable technology to create a unique system that allows them much more autonomy in the field. It also paves the way for a new way of communication between dogs and their handlers.

(l to r) Anarghya Mitra, Shugo Tanaka, Logan Wan, Aadeel Akhtar, Eva Alvarez, Gabriel Hruskovec, and Brian Chien
(l to r) Anarghya Mitra, Shugo Tanaka, Logan Wan, Aadeel Akhtar, Eva Alvarez, Gabriel Hruskovec, and Brian Chien
Cornell Cup USA, presented by Intel, is a college-level embedded design competition created to empower student teams to become the inventors of the newest innovative applications of embedded technology. The third annual competition was held at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida on May 1-3.