“It was such a brilliant opportunity for me because it really complemented the theory of what I’d been learning but gave me real design freedom too,” says Shamoil Khomosi, a Mechatronics and Robotics student at the University of Sheffield from India who has helped create an innovative exercise aid that will help combat the pain of long-haul flights.
The 20-year-old engineering student was part of the team that helped transform a local invention into a usable hi-tech gadget, designed to assist flight passengers and also people with mobility problems.
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Khomosi and fellow student Alex McNabb got involved after a local inventor, Adam Yusuf, asked the university for help to realise his vision for the Active Legs concept. The result is Digital Health Rocka, soon to hit the market as a device able to measure movement and feed data back through its own phone-based app.
“It was comparable to working in industry because I was thrown in at the deep end and had to figure out the design and also juggle the reality of costs. The really great thing for me was the fact that we all got on so well – Adam, Mohamed, Alex, myself and Pete Mylon who led the project for the Sheffield Innovation Programme,” says Khomosi.
After spending his last summer working on the Active Legs project, the engineer is now on a work placement at Mercedes’ Formula 1 manufacturing base in an effort to combine his practical studies with "actual, real world industrial experience".
“I’d never have got the chance to be involved if it hadn’t been for the Sheffield Innovation Programme and the way it works with SMEs [small and medium enterprises] to give students experience of genuine engineering challenges. I’m incredibly proud of what we have achieved. The feedback from care homes helped us see just how valuable the product could really be for elderly people too and also helped us improve the prototype,” he said.
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The foot rockers are currently going through the patenting and intellectual property (IP) process as Adam Yusuf works with the Sheffield company ‘We Do 3D’ to produce 100 each of two versions in the coming months. The inventor is meanwhile considering gaming applications for the invention.
The university contribution to the project was partly funded by the Sheffield Innovation Programme, a University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University collaboration designed to help the growth of local businesses. It is also part of the University of Sheffield’s Made Together initiative – a series of commitments and collaborations designed to make South Yorkshire "healthier, more vibrant, more sustainable and more innovative".