Carnegie Mellon Press Release: April 7, 2004
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Press Release

Chriss Swaney

For immediate release:
April 7, 2004

Carnegie Mellon Engineering Students Vie for Top Honors at the 2004 Boomer Business Plan Challenge

PITTSBURGH—A team of Carnegie Mellon University graduate engineering students led by Jonathan Pui are finalists in the 2004 $10,000 Boomer Business Plan Challenge in San Francisco, Calif., April 12-14.

Pui, a graduate student in Electrical and Computer Engineering, said his team's business plan was developed to market a product that could revolutionize the fitness industry. The product, dubbed the Personal Wellness Coach, is a mobile, wearable computing system utilizing an array of sensors and software designed to monitor a user's heart rate, provide interactive audio feedback to motivate the user, warn of user overexertion and automatically log exercise data.

The Carnegie Mellon students developed the Personal Wellness Coach as part of the Mobile Computing and Applications project in the fall of 2003, according to Asim Smailagic, project advisor and a research professor at Carnegie Mellon's Institute for Complex Engineered Systems. The prototype is intended to support a range of activities relevant to a person's wellness, such as their health data collection, interpretation, feedback and self-monitoring.

The student's new personal coach, a small monitor strapped to an arm or leg, can keep track of a multitude of everyday details in a person's health regimen, including a database of the user's cardiovascular history. The students have been testing the device at local health clubs and the university gym.

"Our business plan targets health-conscious baby boomers who represent the largest consumers of athletic equipment in the past five years," said Pui.

The baby boomer generation — ages 45-59 — spends more than $1 billion on home exercise equipment annually, according to the National Sporting Goods Association. And the U.S. market forecast for sports equipment is expected to grow 15 percent between 2003 and 2007, the association said.

"So, it only seemed logical for us to enter this great contest," said Pui, who will join teammates Guillermo Ortiz, Ramy Asselin and Christian Kissling to present their business plan to a litany of judges from industry and the private sector.

The newly launched competition aims to stimulate the best ideas from the best universities and tap into the business expertise and creativity of today's entrepreneurs addressing the needs of a growing boomer market.

The competition was sponsored by the American Society on Aging's Business Forum on Aging, the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University and Mary Furlong & Associates.


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