United States, University of California, Berkeley
Boomerang is a suite of applications that builds a network of support around asthmatics. For the patient, we constructed an affordable device to slip onto any household inhaler: a thin rubber sleeve to fit the inhaler, with veiled pockets that enable us to install an NFC sticker, Beacon, ringer, and light. The patient-specific mobile application uses this Boomerang device to detect an out-of-range or in-range inhaler, notifying the user when appropriate. The user’s preferences for Boomerang notifications are learned over time, and with aggregate statistics, Boomerang builds a more accurate assessment of high-risk environments for asthma attacks--in such scenarios, Boomerang partners with mobile assistants such as Siri or Cortana to preemptively draw attention to the inhaler or reach out to appropriate members of the user’s network: Boomerang additionally consists of web and mobile platforms for (1) trusted contacts such as parents and close friends, (2) institutions such as a gym, school, or hotel, and (3) clinicians. The first group consists of immediate contacts that are privy to the patient’s medical condition and may carry an inhaler specific to the patient’s dosage. The second group consists of management that can benefit from both aggregate statistics and easy access to rapid response, potentially an onsite cache of inhalers with standard dosages. The third group consists of medical personnel such as a primary care doctor who benefits from toolkits that enable personalized care. Boomerang connects all three groups to predict, prevent, and address asthma attacks, building a community of patient-centered support by providing information as needed.
Boomerang started as a collaboration between Johns Hopkins medical students Jane Wang, Daniel Weng, and Thomas Le; UC Berkeley engineers, Alvin Wan and Derek Wan; and Johns Hopkins engineer Saki Fujita. Together, they parsed through a long list of potential problem areas, but preventative medicine and chronic disease management kept arising first on their list due to the widespread prevalence of these conditions, their frequent poor management, and the potential for meaningful impact in patient health. Their personal experiences, physician interviews, and patient encounters inspired them to address asthma, a condition that affects 1 in 12 people in the U.S. and leads to 1.6 million ER visits annually. They developed Boomerang to empower asthma patients to take charge of their condition and live more fulfilled, meaningful lives.