Protect U

Walking Protector for Pregnant Women

This project aims at designing something wearable that may be useful in the near or distant future. We need to prepare to explain the context of the project’s intended use, target audience, and also technical implementation. A physical prototype is required for this project, though it may be presented in the form of documentation or performance if this is a site-specific or interventionist project.

Critical Wearables 2018
Based In
New York University
09/2018 - 01/2019
Kathleen Mcdermott
Shuting Jiang
Arduino | Soldering | Sensor | LED




The 10 Biggest Problems that Women may Face During Pregnancy

  1. Bleeding In The Gums: When you are pregnant, you may experience some swelling and pain in your gums, especially when you brush.
  2. Heartburn: Hormone changes during pregnancy, combined with your growing belly, can make it easier for stomach acid to wash up into the throat.
  3. Constipation: Most pregnant women become constipated due to the hormonal changes that make your digestion much slower, as your baby starts to grow; there will be less space for your digestive system to function at its best.
  4. Morning Sickness: Morning sickness is one of the early pregnancy problems and is something that, ironically enough, can happen at any time of the day and for some unfortunate women, can carry on throughout the pregnancy. The symptoms include nausea and vomiting.
  5. Insomnia: With all bloating, leg cramps and constant need to pee, it’s no wonder that pregnant women have trouble sleeping. Around 8 out of 10 women experience insomnia during pregnancy.
  6. Lack of Energy and Fatigue: Fatigue experienced by those in their first trimester is caused due to hormonal changes, whereas the fatigue in the third is caused because of the extra weight you have to carry as well as all the sleepless nights caused by other pregnancy problems.
  7. Stretch Marks: These are caused by changes in the elastic supportive tissue that lies right under the skin. At first they are reddish brown, purple or dark brown but later they fade away to faint pale marks.
  8. Sore back: A growing uterus, a shifting center of gravity, and loosening ligaments add up to back pain for many pregnant women, especially in the third trimester.
  9. Leg Cramps: Nobody is really sure why leg cramps are caused. Some speculate that they are caused because of the extra weight you have to carry, while there are other theories that they are caused due to the compression of the blood vessels in the legs. These troublesome cramps most often happen at night and make sleeping quite difficult.
  10. Swelling: Also called Edema, this is caused due to the excess fluids that get stuck in your tissues. As you retain more water during pregnancy, swelling is pretty common. The growing uterus puts pressure on the vena cava and this causes the blood flow back to the legs to be slow, thereby causing the swelling.

Reference: Article 1 Article 2 Article 3


I interviewed several of my friends who already had babies, and here are the top 5 problems they had during pregnancy:

  1. They can’t see anything below their belly, so it is a little dangerous for them to walk alone, especially stairs.
  2. Think to much, and always negative
  3. Morning Sickness
  4. Sore back
  5. Leg Cramps


After research and interview, I found out that pregnant women usually cannot see the things below their belly, so that they feel very unsafe when they walk alone, especially walking upstairs. And slipping on the floor is a huge reason cause miscarriage.

So for this project, I decide to make a wearables for pregnant women to detect short range barriers. It is a small and movable sensor based detector that pregnant women can stick it in their shoes. The buzzer would make a sound when there are barriers near by. Also I would like to add LED lights on sleeve to visualize the distance between feet and barriers.



Ultrasonic Sensor

Ultrasonic sensors measure distance by using ultrasonic waves.

The sensor head emits an ultrasonic wave and receives the wave reflected back from the target. Ultrasonic Sensors measure the distance to the target by measuring the time between the emission and reception.

Infrared proximity sensor (Sharp IR sensor - short range)

The infrared proximity sensing can be illustrated simply. Figure 1 shows an example when there is no sensing object in the proximity-detection path. No reflected infrared signal can be bounced back to be captured by the proximity sensor.

Conversely, when the sensing object is within detectable distance as shown in Figure 2, the proximity sensor captures the reflected infrared signal. The proximity readout is linearly proportional to the captured infrared-light signal intensity and inversely proportional to the square of the distance.

Piezo Buzzer

Piezoceramic Element Structure

At the heart of all piezo-type buzzers is the piezoelectric element. The piezoelectric element is composed of a piezoelectric ceramic and a metal plate held together with adhesive. Both sides of the piezoelectric ceramic plate contain an electrode for electrical conduction. Piezo materials exhibit a specific phenomenon known as the piezoelectric effect and the reverse piezoelectric effect. Exposure to mechanical strain will cause the material to develop an electric field, and vice versa.

Working Principle of Piezo Buzzers

When an alternating voltage is applied to the piezoceramic element, the element extends and shrinks diametrically. This characteristic of piezoelectric material is utilized to make the ceramic plate vibrate rapidly to generate sound waves.

RGB LED Strip Light

RGB LED Strip Light system is a creative, customizable way to add a splash of color to your world. The flexible strips feature a series of color changing LED diodes encased in silicone for increased durability. Using compatible connectors and controllers, you can create a unique system of light and color suited for almost any application.


I tried both Ultrasonic Sensor and Infrared proximity sensor to get the distance measurement. Ultrasonic sensor works for 2cm-400cm, and short range sharp IR sensor works for 0cm-30cm. So for this project, sharp IR sensor is actually works better.