Paul Wright, professor of mechanical engineering at UC Berkeley, challenged students in his design and prototyping class to go beyond high-tech gizmos and develop products that can actually solve real-world problems and improve people's daily lives.
To that end, 68 students divided into 11 groups to develop various devices using "motes," high-tech sensors originally developed at UC Berkeley and refined into quarter-sized platforms at the Intel Research Laboratory near campus.
Trevor Pering, UC Berkeley graduate and senior researcher at Intel, helped this year's class. He provided industry expertise, sharing the perspective of high-tech developers with the students throughout the semester.
The trade show, sponsored by Intel and the Ford Motor Co., gives students the opportunity to share their final products with the public. By the end of the semester, students must submit business plans outlining how the products can be developed commercially.
"Inconspicuous computing" products to be showcased include:
* A kid tracking device to help parents find a lost child in a crowded mall
* Wearable sensors that relay athletes' vital signs back to the coach and warn of heat exhaustion
* An airline tracking and notification system that helps passengers make connecting flights and monitors children traveling alone
* A motorcycle helmet equipped with a wireless communication system