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Lifestyle

Struggling with weight? Student has one answer

Wednesday, May 11th, 2022 00:38 | By
A young man gives the device a try. PD/MILLIAM MURIGI
A young man gives the device a try. PD/MILLIAM MURIGI

Kelvin Ndung’u Mukuhi  has come up with an innovative device that not only tells one whether their weight is healthy and proportional to their height, but also gives health guidelines and recommendations after analysing one’s results.

Known as the Automated Body Mass Index Device, the gadget helps one to know their Body Mass Index (BMI), which in turn helps them determine any health risk one may face if their BMI is outside the healthy range. It also gives medical tips, health guidelines, and recommendations on different body mass index statuses, which can guide users on how to maintain optimal health and fitness.

“I came up with this device after realising that many people have been going to health facilities for their health checks since they are no medical instruments one can use on their own,” says Kelvin, a second-year student at Mount Kenya University. “If this device is put into use, it can help in the early control of health problems that may result from a high BMI.” 

Filling the gaps

At present, the gadets available in the market that can do this are the weighing machines set by the roadside and walkways in towns, but most of them only display a person’s weight. Others show only the height and weight. Although some give BMI, they can’t keep records or link the result to a user’s phone. And all are only available in public spaces, denying users privacy.

“Our device outshines them all since it can take one’s weight, height and BMI. The device is also able to record and store data besides giving guidelines on what should be done based on one’s BMI readings. In height taking, the device is automatic, thus no need to adjust like other height taking machines,” Kelvin says.

In addition, the device is affordable compared to similar ones in the market, light and therefore easy to transport. It is also easy to use.

The Automated Body Mass Index device consists of a sensor that accurately determines the weight of a person and an ultrasonic sensor that automatically measures height. It also has a display for the weight and the height measured. The result is then computed by a microcontroller to give the BMI. 

This data can then be used for assessing one’s nutritional status, such as whether one is overweight, obese or morbidly obese. One can get the results either via an email or SMS or a mobile application that Kelvin has developed and which he has christened “BMI App” and which is compatible with the device.

The device also has bluetooth and two-node micro-controller units (MCU). One acts as a database and the other as a host. The host takes the output from the micro-controller, compares the information with the database and gives feedback  via email or bluetooth. It can be fitted with an external storage device such as an SD card to store the data collected in an area with no internet connectivity or mobile phone network.

Going commercial 

Although the innovator has not commercialised the device yet, he believes that the device is viable because BMI is one of the measurements required in hospitals for many health analyses. He believes the device can also be used in health research since it can store and analyse data. This makes it easy to search for information already in its database.

Says Kelvin; “Before commercialising it, I want to improve it such that it will not only be giving BMI results, but also be able to measure body fat content, blood pressure and other conditions”. 

And he has a justification for it. The reason for this improvement is that BMI alone may not be the best way of defining one’s health status since it’s a comparison of height and weight only. 

“If the device will be able to account for the body fat simultaneously, it would be the correct gauge to define one’s health.”

One of the challenges he faces is lack of the financial muscle to develop the device further. He also lacks advanced tools such as hot air soldering machines and testing tools. 

“Another challenge was that people tried to steal my idea, with others trying to put it into use without my consent,” he says.

Technology advancement

On the issue of whether technology is doing enough to solve health problems, Kelvin says it is playing a big role. 

He asserts that advancements in healthcare technology have allowed physicians to diagnose and treat patients better while reducing human errors. Technology has also improved clinical outcomes and practice efficiencies, not to mention data tracking, a critical component of health care.

“Digital technology could help transform unsustainable healthcare systems into sustainable ones, equalise the relationship between medical professionals and patients and provide cheaper, faster and more effective solutions for diseases,” he says. 

“Our government has a lot to do to enhance technology in the health sector. For example, in the recent outbreak of Coronavirus, most hospitals did not have enough ventilators. Government should also set apart some money to fund innovation in high-level training institutions and appreciate technology in every sector,” Kelvin says of the weighty challenges facing the country.

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