MECH undergrad Cindy Gu invents prize-winning device to measure breathing

A device invented by Mechanical Engineering undergraduate student Cindy Gu was featured in a number of news articles this week. Gu’s device, which she calls Smart Belt, measures a person’s breathing to determine their base breathing pattern, and then vibrates if the breathing becomes irregular. As the Vancouver Sun and the Indo-Canadian Voice report, Gu came up with the idea after taking up yoga to help her cope with academic stress. “Studying mechanical engineering was one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done, but it was also very demanding,” Gu told the Indo-Canadian Voice, “Yoga helped me stay centred and calm.”

Through yoga she also learned how important proper breathing is to one’s well-being, and she began to notice that her own breathing often became irregular throughout the day. “I wanted to create a device to remind myself to breathe so that my nervous system doesn’t get overloaded and I don’t feel exhausted and stressed out,” she told the Vancouver Sun, “I wanted to make a personal device to help me breathe better.”

But Gu’s device won’t just help her personally; she has now founded Ohm GearLab to bring the product to market. “[N]ot everyone knows how to benefit from [the link between regulated breathing and physical and psychological well-being],” she said, “This product helps you become more aware of your breath and use it as a tool in stressful situations.”

Ohm GearLab is part of the venture accelerator program e@UBC, and Smart Belt is currently in the prototype phase. This year, Smart Belt won the $3000 first prize at the Pacific Venture Capital Competition in Vancouver and the $10,000 third prize at the Canada Business Model Competition in Halifax.

Gu graduates with her BASc MECH next Tuesday. See her interview with UBC News here:

Gu’s story also appeared in The Vancouver Sun, The Province, The Indo-Canadian Voice, The Ottawa Citizen, and Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

Mechanical Engineering student, yoga instructor, and entrepreneur Cindy Gu striking a yoga pose for UBC News.

Mechanical Engineering student, yoga instructor, and entrepreneur Cindy Gu strikes a yoga pose for UBC News.