Smart Seat for Reducing Incidents of Pressure Ulcers

Accessible device that aims to monitor and correct at-risk sitting behavior


Competitive Audit

Project Video

About This Project

​Pressure ulcers are an entirely preventable condition. Smart Seat (a.k.a. Smart Ass) is a device that senses pressure changes on a wheelchair seat. It analyzes these changes and will sends alerts about unhealthy sitting behavior.

  • Senses pressure in four quadrants of wheelchair seat base
  • Cost less than $100 to build
  • Bluetooth communication to iOS app
  • Awarded for innovation by
  • Showcased at Google I/O 2016 and Bay Area Maker Faire



Pierre Karashchuk
Software Engineer

Tomas Vega
Engineer, Maker, Cognitive Science Major

Oscar Segovia
Mechanical Engineer, Product Designer

Yakshu Madaan
Technical Program Manager, Apple Inc.

Jonathan Bank, M.D.
Aesthetic Plastic Surgeon

Paul Herzlich
Legal Specialist, Google Inc.


Conducted interviews and domain research to inform ourselves about pressure ulcers and the dangers they pose to people.

  • Gained insights into the daily needs and behaviors of people who are aware of their risk of developing pressure sores.
  • Synthesized our findings and discussed patterns that arose in our observations.
affinity diagrams

Competitive Audit

Analyzed and rated aspects of current solutions on the market; this helped us create a set of initial design principles to ideate on.

  • Require low cognitive and physical load
  • Not add to pressure on user's body
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Work with all kinds of wheelchairs
  • Provide feedback to user
  • Sustain 8-12 hours of independent operation (reach goal)
  • Measure moisture in the at-risk areas (reach goal)
existing solutions chart


Outlined profiles of potential users that we learned about in our research, and identified which we would target at the rapid-prototyping make-a-thon.

  • Primary: Independent paraplegic who is healthy
  • Primary: Wheelchair bound person
  • Secondary: Paraplegic who depends on a caretaker
  • Secondary: Intoxicated (reduces sensation)
  • Secondary: Suffering from a sore
  • Secondary: Hospitalized paraplegic
  • Secondary: Diabetic (at risk of developing sores on feet)


Created mobile interfaces for prototypes. Aimed to showcase the potential of our device.

  • Quickly drew UI concepts using sketch
  • Applied material design patterns
  • Worked with iOS engineer to make final aesthetic tweaks in the implementation
app ui mockups
app ui mockups
app ui mockups
app ui mockups


With a handful of potentially viable solutions in mind, we began building our ideas using inexpensive materials. We utilized foam core and 3D printers to quickly mockup concepts for the pressure sensitive seat.

  • Discovered design flaws and new challenges to consider, such as how to effectively capture pressure over a distributed area.
  • Began collecting real data from sensors, to send to iOS app interface.
autoadjust prototype
cushion prototype
foam board prototype
3D printed prototype


Working on the smart seat at the Google Makeathon was an incredibly rewarding experience. We won 1st place! Since then, our team has continued to meet regularly to prototype new and cheaper sensors, and drive towards our goal of developing a cost-effective and easy-to-use pressure ulcer prevention system.

Accepting team awards
Me with awards