Here are drawings from a patent based upon an invention by the St. Mark’s School of Texas FLL team for the 2011 Senior Solutions Research Project. The invention is described as:
A warning device for the prevention of pressure sores and circulation problems from prolonged inactivity includes a sensor positioned in a pad to detect the weight of a user on the pad. A sitting timer measures the amount of time the user has continuously sat on the pad, and an alarm activated by the warning device when the user has continuously sat on the pad in excess of a first predetermined limit, wherein the alarm includes a visual alarm mechanism, an auditory alarm mechanism, and a sensory alarm mechanism. A standing timer is started when the user’s weight is removed from the pad and measuring the amount of time the user has been off of the pad. The alarm is reactivated if the sensor detects the user’s weight reapplied to the pad before the standing timer has expired.
The FIRST LEGO League Research Project will command as much attention as our Robot Challenge this year. There is a FLL Global Innovation FAQ that discusses some of the details about the Research Project. Some have questioned if there is a judging bias towards patentable devices over non-patentable innovative information or process-based solutions based upon this FAQ.
Judging from this year’s winner who were just announced today on the FLL website, 2 of the 3 finalists were based upon mobile apps and the other appears to be a mechanical device to teach braille to the blind. Many of the 527 Research Projects submitted to the FLL Global Innovation Competition also are software apps rather than mechanical devices. This argues that software apps which are less likely to be patentable are just as likely, if not more so, to be judged highly. Congrats to Team Storm from Indiana for their ROY G. BIV winning invention.