Illinois Tech’s Grainger Computing Innovation Prize Awarded to InfaSafe for to AI-Powered Infant Health Monitoring Technology
The InfaSafe team of Illinois Institute of Technology students earned top honor in the Grainger Computing Innovation Prize for their baby monitoring solution, combining AI, thermal imaging, and audio analysis to address critical challenges in infant care
CHICAGO—November 16, 2023—The third annual Grainger Computing Innovation Prize was awarded to a group of Illinois Institute of Technology students who integrated artificial intelligence into a non-invasive infant health monitoring system to combat Sudden Unexpected Infant Death. InfaSafe was announced as the $15,000 first prize winner in a finals event judged live by a panel of Chicago’s technology experts.
In the final of the monthslong competition Thursday night, five finalist teams pitched their computing-powered prototypes to the judges, the Illinois Tech community, and invited guests. The aim of the Grainger Prize competition is to build interdisciplinary teams of students to exhibit their computing skills in big data, artificial intelligence, and data science projects with the potential to positively impact society. Teams were encouraged to tackle projects in “Computing with Data for Social Good” to address real-world problems in education, health, energy, public safety, transportation, economic development, sustainable smart infrastructure, climate change, and more.
InfaSafe impressed the judges by leveraging AI technologies like pose analysis and audio monitoring to provide real-time insights into an infant's well-being. The system combines advanced AI algorithms for infant pose analysis with thermal imaging and audio monitoring capabilities. This multifaceted approach enables the InfaSafe device to detect critical factors such as sleeping position, breathing rate, and ambient conditions, offering caregivers and medical professionals a comprehensive view of an infant’s safety and health.
“In the realm of neonatal care, the need for an advanced, non-invasive monitoring system is paramount. Infasafe stands at the forefront of this innovation, offering a comprehensive suite of AI-driven features that ensure the well-being of infants through meticulous pose analysis, thermal estimation, and cry evaluation,” said Lukas Klicker (CE, M.S. CE 5th Year). “Our system is a beacon of hope for improving infant health outcomes and expanding research capabilities. This is more than a project to us; it's a commitment to a future ensuring a healthy start for all.”
The innovation also emphasizes privacy and security. The data processed by InfaSafe, which includes visual frames, audio, and environmental readings, is managed locally. With recordings securely stored, the system ensures that sensitive information is protected. The InfaSafe app further enhances user experience by providing live monitoring and instant notifications, making it a user-friendly solution for both individual caregivers and larger institutions like hospitals.
The other members of InfaSafe were Alex Maliwat (CE, M.S. CE 4th Year) and Joanna Findura (CE, M.S. CE 5th Year) who together with Lukas Klicker, have developed this groundbreaking technology with the potential to significantly impact the field of infant health care and research.
“The finalists for the Grainger Prize all demonstrated great talent and ingenuity, exemplifying the innovative spirit that exists at Illinois Tech,” said Brian Walker, Illinois Tech trustee and senior vice president and chief product officer at Grainger, a Fortune 500 industrial supply company founded in Chicago in 1927. “The Grainger Foundation is a private foundation that has a long history of fostering education in the STEM fields as well as improving the quality of healthcare. Each of this year’s nominees upholds the Foundation’s commitment through this competition.”
Serving on the judging panel were: Stacey Kacek, managing partner at Kacek Ventures and a member of Illinois Tech’s Board of Trustees; Jonny LeRoy, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Grainger; Marwan Omar, associate professor of information technology and management; Maryam Saleh, executive director of the Ed Kaplan Family Institute for Innovation and Tech Entrepreneurship; and Tim Stojka, CEO of Nexus3 Capital and a member of Illinois Tech’s Board of Trustees.
The five finalists were selected from a highly competitive initial field of 35 teams made up of 135 Illinois Tech students through three rounds of concept development and presentation. Another winner of the night was EIBreathe, a novel approach to diagnosing exercise-induced bronchoconstriction in athletes, awarded second prize and won $10,000. Placing third and earning $5,000 was H2.0 Resilience, which designed a system for dynamic flood prediction using satellite imagery. Tying for fourth place were Robot S Helper’s AI-assisted real-time wildfire management and SPACES’s community-connecting app to combat social isolation. SPACES also received the first Audience Choice Award from a live vote taken after the presentations.
The Grainger Prize is open to teams of two to five Illinois Tech students pursuing undergraduate or master’s degree in any area of studies. At least one undergraduate student is required in each team, and doctoral students are encouraged to participate as mentors.
“Regardless of one’s career, computing and data are essential skills in tackling the problems of today’s world, and it’s part of our mission to embed the principles of computing across all disciplines at Illinois Tech,” said Lance Fortnow, dean of the College of Computing. “This was the first Grainger Prize in the ChatGPT era and all the finalists incorporated AI techniques in their projects. The Grainger Prize showcases what students can accomplish when they integrate the latest computing techniques into their diverse areas of study, creating innovative solutions that transcend traditional boundaries and make tangible impacts in our communities and industries.”
A generous endowed gift funded by The Grainger Foundation, an independent, private foundation established by William W. Grainger, the founder of W.W. Grainger, Inc., supports the Grainger Computing Innovation Prize annually, with student teams receiving $15,000 for first place, $10,000 for second, and $5,000 for third.
“The Grainger Computing Innovation Prize offers a significant opportunity for our students to apply what they've learned academically to address real challenges within Chicago and beyond,” said Illinois Tech Provost Ken Christensen. “The support from The Grainger Foundation enables our students to pursue lifelong learning and to serve as agents of transformation in communities across the globe.”
To discover more about the Grainger Computing Innovation Prize, visit https://www.iit.edu/graingerprize.
Photo: (from left) Illinois Tech Provost Kenneth Christensen, College of Computing Dean Lance Fortnow, InfaSafe team members Lukas Klicker (CE, M.S. CE 5th Year), Alex Maliwat (CE, M.S. CE 4th Year) and Joanna Findura (CE, M.S. CE 5th Year), Brian Walker, Illinois Tech trustee and senior vice president and chief product officer at Grainger, and Grainger senior vice president and chief technology officer Jonny LeRoy.
Illinois Institute of Technology
Based in the global metropolis of Chicago, Illinois Tech was born to liberate the power of collective difference to advance technology and progress for all. It is the only tech-focused university in the city, and it stands at the crossroads of exploration and invention, advancing the future of Chicago and the world. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, computing, architecture, business, design, science and human sciences, and law. Illinois Tech students are guaranteed hands-on experiences, personalized mentorship, and job readiness through the university's one-of-a-kind Elevate program. Its graduates lead the state and much of the nation in economic prosperity. Its faculty and alumni built the Chicago skyline. And every day in the living lab of the city, Illinois Tech fuels breakthroughs that change lives. Visit iit.edu.
College of Computing
Illinois Tech created the College of Computing in 2020 as part of an effort to drive Chicago’s thriving tech ecosystem by educating a future diverse workforce that is rigorously trained in data and computation. Illinois Tech is home to the Midwest's only Bachelor of Science in Artificial Intelligence degree, and the numerous cybersecurity and intelligence pathways at Illinois Tech explore not only the deep foundations of fast-growing fields of computer science, but also emphasize societal ethics in developing this technology. The United States Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency have designated Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech) as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. The university’s Center for Cyber Security and Forensics Education (C2SAFE) is at the core of Illinois Tech’s designation. Additionally, the center is a member of the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Academic Alliance and North American Defense and Security Academic Alliance (NADSAA).
The Grainger Foundation
The Grainger Foundation, an independent, private foundation based in Lake Forest, Illinois, was established in 1949 by William W. Grainger, founder of W.W. Grainger, Inc. The Grainger Foundation provides substantive support to a broad range of organizations including educational, medical, cultural, and human services institutions.
Illinois Institute of Technology