The creators of the university project Gönguhermir (“Walk Simulator”) received the 2009 Innovation Award by President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson at a special ceremony at his residence Bessastadir on Tuesday.
The award is granted annually to university students for outstanding summer projects that are sponsored by the Student Innovation Fund, Fréttabladid reports.
The presidential residence Bessastadir. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
“The idea came from Thjódbjörg Gudjónsdóttir, physical therapist for children and a lecturer at the [University of Iceland’s] physical therapist department, and she began cooperating with two engineering professors at the University of Iceland, Karl S. Gudmundsson and Fjóla Jónsdóttir,” said physical therapist Jóna Gudný Arthúrsdóttir.
Arthúrsdóttir worked on the project with Andri Yngvason, a University of Iceland (HÍ) student in electrical and computer engineering, and Bjarki Már Elíasson, a HÍ mechanical engineering student, who is now studying in Denmark.
“They requested that students work on a summer project that involved developing ideas and devising a design for the walk simulator,” Arthúrsdóttir explained. The purpose of the project was to create a device that could simulate the variable pressure of walking, which could increase the bone density of children suffering from severe immobility.
“The device works in such a way that children are placed into the equipment so that they stand upright with pressure on their legs. The device then moves their legs and simulates a natural walking movement,” Arthúrsdóttir described.
“The children, who the equipment is designed for, are all tied to a wheelchair and are more likely to suffer bone fractures that healthy children,” Arthúrsdóttir continued. “The new device should be able to provide them with increased and more natural movements, which could contribute to increased bone density.”
The group is planning to apply for a patent license on the walk simulator and further grants so that they can continue working on its development.
Because of a considerably higher contribution by Reykjavík City to the Student Innovation Fund this year compared to 2008, the fund has almost four times the amount it had to sponsor innovative projects last year.
Considering the current employment situation for university graduates, the fund’s representatives are delighted to be able to sponsor more projects next summer than in 2008. The application deadline is March 9.