Lassie 2.0 life alert system for service dogs earns provincial honour for former NAIT students
27, Sep, 2022
EDMONTON, Sept. 27, 2022 – Three former NAIT biomedical engineering technology students have received a provincial honour for their invention of Lassie 2.0, a life alert system for humans that can be activated by a service dog in the event of an emergency. Their project has been recognized as a finalist for the 2022 Capstone Project of the Year Award by the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta (ASET).
Created by former NAIT team members Michelle Gariepy, Brandon Lindsay and Roseveer Salh, Lassie 2.0 has three components: a wearable handler’s device with a large push button; a special vest worn by the service dog; and a mobile app. How it works is that if the handler falls or is otherwise in distress or incapacitated, the service dog pushes the large button on the device. This automatically opens the mobile app and sends a message to the handler’s emergency contact, providing the handler’s GPS location. The mobile app also switches on the service dog vest, causing lights and a siren to go off to attract help from someone within the immediate vicinity.
The objective of Lassie 2.0 is to enable handlers of service dogs to gain more independence by having a device they know will help draw attention to them during an emergency. It serves to remedy a lack of awareness among the general public about the function of service dogs. Most people know not to touch or interact with them but don’t know what to do if one approaches them for help. Lassie 2.0 bridges this gap as the service dog’s need for human assistance is communicated through the lights and siren of the vest.
According to the former NAIT team’s research, in 2018, a woman’s service dog went to get assistance after she had fallen. The service dog was trained to find a person nearby and get their attention and did exactly that. However, the person the dog encountered was confused and annoyed and resistant to offering help. Thankfully, this was not a critical situation but, had it been an emergency, it could have evolved into a deadly scenario.
“Our team realized that there needed to be a solution to help alleviate this disconnect and avert potential tragedies in the future,” said former team member Gariepy. “Because service dogs undergo two to three years of dedicated training before being certified, our team was fully confident a service dog could accomplish the required task with ease.”
“Most of us are familiar with the expression: every dog has its day. Thanks to the former NAIT team’s brilliant invention of Lassie 2.0, that dog could very well end up saving the day,” said ASET CEO Barry Cavanaugh. “This project has tremendous potential for real-world utility, especially if its market rollout is implemented in partnership with a service dog organization.”
The former NAIT team’s project is one of eight finalists named by ASET for the 2022 Capstone Project of the Year Award. The winning project will be announced later this year.
The Capstone Project of the Year Award was established by ASET in 2017 in response to overwhelming member interest in back-to-school stories about Capstone projects undertaken by teams of engineering technology students from NAIT, SAIT, Red Deer Polytechnic and Lethbridge College as part of their end-of-program requirements.
ASET is the professional self-regulatory organization for engineering technologists and technicians in Alberta. ASET currently represents over 17,000 members, including full-time technology students, recent graduates and fully certified members in 21 disciplines and more than 120 occupations across a multitude of industries.
Michele Penz, Calico Communications for ASET