Congratulations to our 2016 Bluetooth® Breakthrough Award student winner, Sanjana Shah, and runner-up, Josh Kaplan, for their dedication and passion for technological innovation to solve the world’s biggest challenges. Sanjana will receive a $5,000 cash prize to further her project and bring it to life, and Josh will receive a developer kit to empower him to continue to build and innovate for the future.

Fourteen-year-old Sanjana Shah’s passion for solving problems with technology came to life in her Bluetooth Breakthrough Award student entry, the Smart Flood Sensor, which is a Bluetooth enabled device designed to help reduce response time to areas with potential flooding. Sanjana’s Smart Flood Sensor uses a water flow sensor attached to a drainpipe to collect data using Arduino. It then periodically transmits the flow rate, wirelessly, to the cloud. Once in place, the Smart Flood Sensor can detect, monitor, and measure water flow and record that data to the cloud for analysis in order to predict and prevent future flood damage.

The idea for Smart Flood Sensor came to fruition when Sanjana and her family were navigating flooded streets in California during a downpour. Sanjana realized the primary reasons why storm water doesn’t drain efficiently is due to blockages at the drain sites, inadequate city drain pipes sizes, outdated pipe networks, and the lack of real-time water flow data from drain pipes. She researched recent developments in sensor gadgetry and the Internet of Things, created her device, and tested it in her neighborhood’s storm drains.

Implementing Bluetooth® into her device was “absolutely critical,” Sanjana explained. “It becomes practically impossible to maintain the IoT devices that are in hard-to-access areas, and in order for these sensors to work, they need to be deployed underneath the drainpipes. I also needed a way to communicate wirelessly with the widest audience in order to make the device useful and practical.”

Sanjana plans to use her award to develop more devices for testing and improving production quality. Long term, Sanjana hopes to engage students from other countries that are in absolute need of this kind of flood monitoring system. She is well on her way to this goal, already having spoken with the mayor to discuss next steps for the project.

Runner-up Josh Kaplan’s idea for his Bluetooth® Breakthrough Award entry, BrailleBoard, stemmed from a desire to give social power to visually impaired teens. He struggled with a stutter as a child and was “outcasted” because he couldn’t perfectly articulate his thoughts.

“I began to realize that connecting with others doesn’t have to happen through words,” Josh said. “I truly believe that everybody should have not only the access but the power to connect with others. With that in mind, the BrailleBoard was created to not only provide blind and visually-impaired users full access to a smartphone but the ability to connect with those around them, something I struggled to do when I was younger.”

The flip-open keyboard case is Bluetooth® enabled, featuring Braille characters and large-print contrasting letters on the keys to help the visually impaired text on their smartphones. He implemented Bluetooth in his device due to the ease and speed in which the technology connects devices.

“I have always understood the importance of technology in problem solving, even if it was just connecting pieces together to perform simple tasks,” Josh said. “Bluetooth really is the perfect bridge for communication between the keyboard and the phone.”

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