Young engineers recognised for seizure-predicting vest

Two young UK engineers have developed a vest that monitors heart rate variability and body temperature, and can predict epileptic seizures up to eight minutes in advance.

The MedivVest was developed by Sankha Kahagala-Gamage and David Bernstein, attendees at Loughborough Grammar School. In recognition of their invention, the 16-year-olds were awarded the top prize at the Young Scientists and Engineers Competition, part of The Big Bang Fair run by EngineeringUK.

“Winning was one of the greatest achievements of our lives,” said Sankha, who was inspired to create the device after witnessing an epileptic seizure. “It just goes to show if you truly believe in your invention and you put enough work in, you will succeed. I hope the MediVest will inspire the next set of engineers in 2018.”

Once the device detects that a fit is likely to occur, it sends a message to the wearer’s phone, and can also be set up to notify a carer. Sankha and David were selected from over 600 finalists from across the country who presented their ideas at The Big Bang Fair. Ten were then shortlisted to pitch Dragon’s Den-style to a panel of judges, including space scientist and TV presenter Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, The Gadget Show’s Jason Bradbury, and mechanical Engineer and TV presenter Dr Shini Somara.

“The winners have been rightly recognised as some of the brightest young talent in the country,” said Paul Jackson, chief executive of EngineeringUK. “They are not just prize winners, but a real inspiration. I hope their success will encourage young people across the country to enter the competition either online or at a regional Big Bang Fair.”