How Two CNM Students Built a Smart Health Monitor that Looks Toward the Future of Medical Care
The smart healthcare device Janel and Constance built.

How Two CNM Students Built a Smart Health Monitor that Looks Toward the Future of Medical Care

The students were part of the 10-week Internet of Things (IoT) class and plan to use their news skills in tech careers going forward
January 12, 2021

When Constance Banuelos was an EMT on ambulances and in emergency rooms she often  noticed how restrictive all the health monitoring equipment was for the patient. There were cords everywhere that kept them from moving freely. 

This problem was front of mind when Constance and her classmate Janel Sanchez set out to build a smart healthcare device as part of their capstone project in the 10-week CNM Ingenuity Internet of Things (IoT) bootcamp that wrapped up last December. They knew dependable wireless health monitoring equipment was available and wanted to create something patients could wear that would free them up while still feeding critical information to health providers. 

“We knew the patient had to be monitored, but we also knew they could be a lot more comfortable and less restricted,” Constance says. 

What they developed—in just two short weeks—was a two-inch by three-inch box that strapped to a patient’s wrist and included everything from a fall monitor to a call button to an oxygen sensor and a thermometer. Each of the health components was an off-the-shelf IoT model and they were brought together by a Particle Argon microcontroller, or the brains of the smart device that allowed everything to work in conjunction and also communicate with a secure cloud platform where the health data would be stored and used. 

All told, the components for the device cost less than $100 and the microcontroller was donated by the company through their Particle for Education philanthropic program, which aims to help students with IoT development.

Janel took the lead when it came to integrating the device with the cloud and was able to set up a dashboard that not only visualized the gathered health data, but could also send alerts to health providers or family members if the smart device recorded any vital signs that were out of the normal threshold. 

“A project like this really allowed Janel and Constance to bring together all the pieces of their learning,” says Brian Rashap, the IoT class instructor. “It solidified their skills and allows them to create systems based on those skills.”

There are already wearable devices on the market that perform a similar function—most notably is the Apple Watch—but Janel and Constance say their device is different thanks to its open architecture. More specifically, it can be endlessly customized to hold whatever off-the-shelf health monitors a client might want and all those devices seamlessly integrate with the Particle microcontroller.

“We loved being able to integrate learned concepts into a product, but also loved being able to make the product customizable for a variety of companies,” Janel says. “Creating something that would serve a wide purpose was a really nice way to wrap up the class.”

The next step for the device would be to miniaturize it to about one-third the current size via customization of the monitors and 3D printing for the housing. But neither Janel nor Constance plan to pursue it any further. Instead, they want to pursue careers in other tech fields. Constance is exploring biotechnical manufacturing, and Janel is looking into education where she can share her skills with younger children just starting to explore tech.  

Both say they’re glad to have received so much hands-on experience in such a short period of time and believe the health monitor and their IoT training will help them accelerate wherever they land. 

“The device and Janel and Constance’s new skill sets really validate this idea that we can do rapid workforce development that allows people to move into innovative, well-paying technical fields almost immediately,” Brain says.