Former NAIT students invent smart teddy bear
October 18, 2023
EDMONTON – A group of former students at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology have been named finalists for a provincial award after inventing a smart teddy bear that can notify parents of issues in their child’s sleeping habits. For their capstone project, the students took a soft, fuzzy, fluffy teddy bear and made it into a useful tool for parents by adding some technological extras to it. They called it the Night Knight.
These enhancements include movement, temperature and humidity sensors. They will notify the parent’s phone via an app if the child moves abnormally, which can be a sign of discomfort, said Denise Alinsasaguin, one of the bear’s designers, who was responsible for its hardware.
The monitor records data over an eight-hour period and provides an average reading. It can also sense an ambient room temperature, and if it drops below 19 C or exceeds 24 C, the bear’s sensor will send a signal to the parent’s phone.
Having their project in the running for the capstone award is significant for the team, Alinsasaguin said. “We were actually solely focused on completing our capstone project. So, being a finalist was not on our minds.”
Barry Cavanaugh, the CEO of Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET), was impressed with the project because it’s innovative and useful for the public, he said.
“The merging of a child’s toy with a practical and useful health-related function holds promise for similar applications in the medical field, especially where the safety and welfare of children are concerned,” said Cavanaugh.
He continued, “You see ingenuity combined with the need to do something meaningful for people, to do something worthwhile for society. That’s a feature that I see in almost every one of our capstone projects.”
“Being a part of the award-nominated project looks very good on the participant’s resume,” said Cavanaugh.
Alinsasaguin said the project has potential for future development and commercialization. With some refinements to the design, she said, it could become a practical device that could be put into production.
The team is not currently working on commercializing the bear, she said, but they’re open to returning to Night Knight if investors express interest in it.
Cavanaugh said he wouldn’t be surprised if the project reaches production.
“I think there’s a market,” he said, “such as young people who want to keep an eye on their children at all times to make sure they’re not in any peril.”