Army Ants Win Top Design Award in First Global Innovation Challenge

Army Ants—a FIRST® Robotics Competition team
Army Ants—a FIRST® Robotics Competition team

MU Orthopaedics partnered with the Army Ants—a FIRST® Robotics Competition team made up of 36 high school students from Columbia, MO—to develop SPOCKS, a Sensor Platform for Orthopedic Compliance after Knee Surgery. SPOCKS is a wearable platform for monitoring patient compliance following total knee replacement.

The device was submitted in the FIRST® Innovation Challenge competition. The Army Ants won the Design Award in the FIRST/FRC Global Innovation Challenge!  Nearly 900 teams entered the competition and the Army Ants progressed through semifinalist and finalist rounds to come away with the top prize in the design category.  Only six judged awards were given out to FRC teams from across the world, and the Army Ants were recognized for their design of SPOCKS. The device measures knee range of motion, quadricep activation and weight bearing with sensor integrated into compression stockings, and is intended to guide and encourage patients to carry out their prescribed exercise regime following total knee replacement surgery.  The team completed a full basic working prototype of the device including a basic app, and also developed a business plan and business pitch.

The FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) robotics community prepares young people for the future through a suite of inclusive, team-based robotics programs. The organization hosts regional and national robot competitions to build interest in STEM nationwide. The Army Ants team resides on the University of Missouri campus and is mentored by Biomedical, Biological and Chemical Engineering Chair Kevin Gillis, Biological Sciences Professor Anand Chandrasekhar and engineer Andy Winslow. Gillis reached out to the Department of Orthopaedics and the Army Ants team met with faculty and staff to discuss the design and how to make it functional for patients and how providers could monitor activity and adherence after surgery.

Read More about the Army Ants

SPOCKS device slide, a Sensor Platform for Orthopedic Compliance after Knee Surgery