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Roosevelt High School InvenTeam

The Problem

People with hearing impairments often cannot hear the alarm from a smoke detector. This inability to receive a warning signal during a fire or other dangerous situation can create a potentially hazardous situation.

The Proposal

The Roosevelt High School InvenTeam decided to create a portable, wearable fire alarm system to alert a person with hearing impairments of any fires detected within a certain range.

The Invention

The team's device, the Buzz Beep Alarm, is a network of fire alarms that uses radio technology. The alarm smoke detectors attach to the wall and have a range of 150 feet with no obstacles, or 100 feet with obstacles. Each smoke detector needs to be in range of two other detectors, which work in a chain reaction. This allows them to pass the alert signal on to the receiver, who wears the alarm unit clipped onto a piece of clothing, such as a belt. Each starter set will include one vibrating receiving box and one alarm unit. When the receiver is triggered by the alarm, it vibrates to alert the wearer. If the wearer is out of range of the first alarm, it will alert other alarms via a chain reaction. The signal will reach the wearer as long as they are in range of one of the alarms. The system uses simple BASIC programming language.

The Process

Once the team had the grant, they studied micro-controllers to understand the programming process. They created teams to focus on design, programming, writing and publicity. The programming and design teams frequented workshops at The Bakken—a Library and Museum of Electricity in Life. At The Bakken, the team took apart a smoke detector to understand its components and the signal. Then they studied ways to make the signal trigger the microcontroller, and also set up transceivers to make the signal go from alarm to receiver. The crew worked out the bugs within the system until they felt confident that the signals worked.

Next Steps

The Roosevelt High School InvenTeam is working on making the Buzz Beep Alarm smaller and easier to wear. The team found it challenging to determine a strong and reliable material for the casing. They hope to perfect the device's chain reaction and make it more reliable for the user.