From smart helmets to cooling vests, young entrepreneurs showcase their ideas

Updated: Dec. 11, 2019 at 5:20 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Cradling a large black motorcycle helmet, Ty Uehara points out where impact sensors would go inside.

"You can see that there is a little bit of space where you can slide components in between the styrofoam and the padding," the computer science major said.

He thought up the idea of inserting sensors, a GPS unit and 911 device into motorcycle helmets to assist injured riders. He named his technology ConTekt.

"If any impact happens, let's say he slams his head this way or this way it will at least hit one of those pressure sensors," he said.

“We made a cooling vest, using liquid metal as a coolant.” said Arif Rahman, pointing to a diagram on his laptop screen.

Rahman and Kareem Elassy earned their PhDs in electrical engineering. They teamed up to create a vest for workers to wear in hot surroundings.

Liquid metal keeps it cool.

"It's non-toxic liquid metal. It's not mercury. It's a gallium-based alloy that's developed by a German company, the same company that makes thermometers," Elassy said.

Their cooling vest and Uehara’s sensor helmet both caught the eyes of judges at the University of Hawaii’s 2019 Breakthrough Innovation Challenge put on by the Pacific Asia Center for Entrepreneurship.

"It's an annual competition. It was initially designed especially for students who are studying technical fields so we can start engaging them and start them thinking entrepreneurially," said PACE program manager Tracy Taira.

Judges awarded Uehara the first-place prize of $2,000 for the helmet that has life-saving potential.

“If you’re a motorcyclist and you fall off your motorcycle or you get into an accident the helmet will automatically contact emergency services the moment it detects an accident,” he said.

Elassy and Rahman started their own company called the Hawaii Innovation Lab. They’re vest took second place and the audience award.

"The vest is such that it does not hamper the dexterity of the worker," Rahman said.

Both products will soon have prototypes that can be tested. With the right financial backing they might end up on the market for consumers to use.

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