Inside Rensselaer
* Sarah DiNovo: Protecting Those Who Protect and Serve
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Sarah DiNovo: Protecting Those Who Protect and Serve
There are more than one million full-time sworn police officers charged with preserving safety and security in the United States. Now, thanks to an invention devised by Rensselaer Class of 2008 graduate Sarah DiNovo, our law enforcement officers can protect themselves while protecting us.

A dual major in design, innovation, and society, and mechanical engineering, DiNovo has developed a next-generation law enforcement badge that incorporates the bulky safety features that officers typically carry on their bodies and in their cars into a state-of-the-art wearable network.

Called the “SmartBadge,” the patent-pending device combines a camera, a global positioning system, a Bluetooth chip, and an officer’s radio into a single unit. Coupled with facial recognition technology and a software interface that allows officers to scan driver’s licenses, the SmartBadge is capable of facilitating an instant exchange of imagery and information between police officers and law enforcement databases without requiring officers to turn their backs on suspects to access the computers in their cars.

“No other product like SmartBadge exists on the market today,” says DiNovo, a native of Loudonville, N.Y. “The closest products to our device are scanners and computers designed specifically for patrol cars, but they aren’t accessible to officers on foot or on bike. The SmartBadge places everything officers need to do their job as safely and securely as possible directly on their bodies.”

A dual major in design, innovation, and society, and mechanical engineering,
DiNovo has developed a next-generation law enforcement badge that incorporates the bulky safety features that officers
typically carry on their bodies and in their cars into a state-of-the-art wearable network.

DiNovo and her business partner, Louis Martinelli — who is also a dual major in design, innovation, and society, and mechanical engineering graduating from Rensselaer this year — are currently working with the Albany, N.Y., police department to optimize communication between the SmartBadge and existing police station dispatcher systems.

They hope to shrink their prototype down to a wearable system — which Martinelli describes as “the iPhone meets public safety” — for testing with the Albany police by fall of this year.

“The SmartBadge fills a definite need in the law enforcement community,” says Bill Gressick, a research scientist at Rensselaer’s Center for Automation Technologies and Systems. “[It is] attractive to agencies that face the constant challenge of performing their jobs safely and effectively, while under public scrutiny for efficiency and budget constraints.”

SmartBadge’s potential already has been recognized in a variety of outlets.

In fall 2007, it was a winning entry in Rensselaer’s “Change the World Challenge” idea competition, which supports entrepreneurship education and inspires ideas to improve the human condition by providing a $1,000 cash award for ideas that will make the world a better place.

In winter 2008, DiNovo was the winner of Rensselaer’s Class of ’51 Entrepreneurship Fund, established to help transform student ideas into sustainable ventures.

Most recently, in April, DiNovo was recognized as the $10,000 silver prize winner at the Competitive Technologies Innovation Conference in Boston, Mass.

Beyond law enforcement personnel, DiNovo envisions a range of additional SmartBadge applications for individuals in other public service sectors, including firefighters, emergency medical service providers, and airport security officials.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 2, Number 9, May 16, 2008
©2008 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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