15-year-old Kenneth Shinozuka's grandfather first began showing signs of Alzheimer's disease when Kenneth was just four years old.
Like many Alzheimer's patients, Kenneth's grandfather would sometimes wander off.
This can be very hazardous, as wandering Alzheimer's patients may not know where they are, and can be unaware of their surroundings. They can easily suffer injury or get into accidents.
This is extremely stressful for family members and caregivers.
Kenneth sought to find a way to keep his grandfather safe.
He told Scientific American one particularly harrowing episode that drove home the need for a solution:
"I don't think I will ever forget my shock at seeing Grandfather in his pajamas, accompanied by a policeman who had found him wandering on a nearby freeway in the middle of the night. He was lucky to have been spotted by the police because some wandering cases end in fatality."
Kenneth's solution came to him while he was daydreaming.
Kenneth's incredible work was recognized when he won the Google Science Fair in 2014. He took home $50,000 in prize money, and will receive mentoring for a year to help improve his invention.
He's using his invention, called SafeWander, to help others.
On the Google Science Fair site, he talks about producing the SafeWander device on a larger scale in order to alleviate problems faced by others in his situation:
"I am in the process of having hundred of units manufactured for donation to nursing homes, where I have provided community service with my fellow Boy Scouts to Alzheimer's patients."
His efforts continue.
"This project has given me an incredible life experience — the excitement of creating something new, the pain of getting nowhere, the joy of overcoming obstacles, the pride of accomplishment (including my U.S. patent and journal publication from this project), and the peace of mind from knowing that my grandfather is safe, and my aunt can sleep better at night. I will never forget how deeply moved my entire family was when they first witnessed my sensor detecting Grandfather's wandering. At that moment, I was struck by the power of technology to change lives. I am now even more motivated to pursue my passion for technological innovations that solve healthcare problems facing our increasingly aging society."
For more information on SafeWander, please visit Kenneth's website.