When I was 2 years old, my 8 month old brother was diagnosed with autism. For the last 20 years I watched as he struggled to adjust to society. Incapable to communicate his frustration, ignored by peers, and unable to bare the overstimulating world. Since 2000, there has been a 119% increase in the prevalence of autism with ~3.5 million individuals in the US today. There is an addressable market of $300,000,000 and by year 5 we plan to capture 1% of it and year 10 we look to control 50%.
Hypersensitivity is a common trait of those with autism; the individuals are prone to fits of rage or angst when triggers occur. The current methods to combat this utilizes a weighted vest; the idea is to put pressure on the individual, making them feel grounded, mimicking a hug. The issues lie in heavy weight of the vest, unsightly appearance, and inconvenience.
The smart apparel monitors biometrics of a user such as heart rate, skin conductivity, blood pressure, and other such vitals to determine if the user is beginning to experience high levels of stress. Through machine learning, the shirt will generate a threshold for of the metrics that are indicative of stress. Once the threshold baseline is surpassed the device initiates compression of the user, simulating a hug.
The benefits of GAIA lie in that it can be worn under clothing as to avoid attention from peers. In addition, gaia will increase independence of the user, eliminating the need for an aide during day-to-day situations, such as work and school, thus reducing the financial burden on the family. The new found independence will give the families of users peace of mind that gaia provide support when they are unavailable. This will allow the autistic individual the ability to become a contributory member of society.
Through subject matter expert, SME, interviews from such organizations as Hussman Institute For Autism, Autism Speaks, and Special Olympics it was determined that advertising at autism conferences and Special Olympics events was best for reaching the autism community. After talks with Hussman and Speaks, they have reached out several times and expressed their interest in the product, stating that they’d endorse the product. At Special Olympic events two field engineers will showcase and test out the product to people, with the intention of purchasing onsite. If the customer is interested they can purchase at the demonstration, otherwise online ordering will be an option.
The business model consists of the smart apparel and mobile application, with a monthly subscription standard to premium package available. This will include extra data storage, as well as additional tools. The subscription package will be focused toward institutions that handle large groups such as research labs or schooling organization in order to monitor the people for better personalized lesson plans. There will be subscription package offering the families/loved ones of the autistic individuals to monitor the user’s activity throughout the day to give them peace at ease.
- 2017 Consumer Products Honorable Mention
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Type of entry:individual
Brent is inspired by:My brother, who is two years younger than I, was diagnosed with autism when he was 8 months old. For the next 20 years I watched as he struggled to live a normal life. How a blissful walk would turn into complete agony at the mere sight of a trigger. His pain and lack of a childhood motivated me to find a solution to this problem, in order for him to become a contributory member of society. My brother is the inspiration for the creation of gaia.