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New York teen wins $50,000 prize for invention aiding Alzheimer's patients

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York teenager whose grandfather suffers from Alzheimer's disease won a $50,000 science prize for developing wearable sensors that send mobile alerts when a dementia patient begins to wander away from bed, officials said on Wednesday.

Kenneth Shinozuka, 15, who took home the Scientific American Science in Action Award, said his invention was inspired by his grandfather's symptoms, which frequently caused him to wander from bed in the middle of the night and hurt himself.

"I will never forget how deeply moved my entire family was when they first witnessed my sensor detecting Grandfather's wandering," Shinozuka said in a statement. "At that moment, I was struck by the power of technology to change lives."

His invention uses coin-sized wireless sensors that are worn on the feet of a potential wanderer. The sensors detect pressure caused when the person stands up, triggering an audible alert on a caregiver's smartphone using an app.

The award honors a project that aims to make a practical difference by addressing an environmental, health or resources challenge, said Scientific American Editor in Chief Mariette DiChristina.

Shinozuka's invention was also selected as one of 15 Google Science Fair finalists out of thousands of submissions from more than 90 countries, the Scientific American publication, which partners with Google to judge the applicants, said in a statement.

In September, Shinozuka is scheduled to travel to Google's California headquarters to compete in the 15-to-16-year-old age category in the Google Science Fair.

His project will then be presented to a panel of international judges, including scientists and technology innovators, for a possible $100,000 in scholarship funds.

The winners of the 2014 Google Science Fair will be announced on Sept. 22.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Eric Beech)

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