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Pitt PinCH® Wearables Competition

The Emotion Prosthetics team took first place in the Pitt Innovation Challenge (PInCh®) final event for creating Purrr, an autoreactive wearable device that detects rising stress levels and empowers people to effortlessly control them. The sensing technology used in Purrr recognizes when a person starts to become stressed and responds by applying layered vibration frequencies to the person?s wrist or back, and the group has shown this helps people to regulate and better handle stress. Users also can measure physical signs of stress in real time and visualize them via a simple dashboard on the app. The team intends to use the award to test how individuals with PTSD, particularly veterans, react to the device in and outside the lab. 

The first place $125,000 grant, comprised of the $100,000 prize and a $25,000 supplement given because the project targets veterans, goes to the lab of Dr. Greg Siegle, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Psychology, and Clinical and Translational Science . Psychiatry residents David Rabin, MD, PhD; Shan Gao, MD, PhD; and Erik Loraas, MD also are members of the team, as well as undergraduate student Noah Freedman and business advisor Kathryn Fantauzzi, MPA. Fantauzzi has started a company, Neural Impact, to commercialize the product; the experience initially will be offered to members of the Pittsburgh community (purrr.life).

PInCh, which is in its third year, is sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh?s Clinical and Translational Science Institute, the Office of the Provost, and the Innovation Institute. This year?s contestants submitted proposals to answer the question, ?What is your bold solution to a vital health problem?? After two rounds of pre-selection, 14 teams were invited to compete at the final pitch event, with six teams in the $100,000 category and eight teams in the $25,000 category. The DSF Charitable Foundation awarded a total of $565,000 in funding to innovative projects featuring wearable devices that address problems in health care.