Raghav Ganesh USA, 15

project: Serene
basic human NEEDS: HEALTH

Theme Song: “Centuries” by Fall out boy

In seventh grade, Raghav witnessed a student having an autistic meltdown in front of his peers at school. After researching autistic meltdowns, Raghav discovered that what appeared as emotional outbursts and a loss of behavioral control were triggered by stress and would occur frequently. The unpredictability of meltdowns greatly hinders the independence and quality life of those on the autistic spectrum. Raghav developed Serene, an assistive biomedical system to predict and prevent autistic meltdowns. Serene includes a wearable device with multiple sensors that measure stress levels that cannot be detected through facial expressions and body language. When levels rise beyond a threshold, the device cues the user to practice self-regulation and notifies the caregiver through a mobile app. Users gain understanding of their triggers, emotions and when to practice self-regulation methods.

These new skills provide more independence from caregivers who no longer need to be present at all times. Users, their caregivers and behavioral specialists have given positive feedback after testing Serene, and the system’s adaptability allows individuals to configure the device to best meet their needs. More than 500,000 autistic individuals are entering adulthood and dependent on caregivers, largely due to meltdowns. With autism on the rise in the next 20 years of more than 600%, Raghav hopes his solution will help this growing population to live happier, more independent lives. He is working to incorporate a variety of therapeutic techniques and apply his technology to other conditions such as epilepsy and ADHD.