Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Students create new software to help the visually impaired

Technology has no boundaries, and this has once again been proved by a group of four students of Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DA-IICT), who have developed a software solution enabling blind people to dynamically move around and perceive their surroundings.

Participating in the finals of Microsoft Imagine Cup being held here, students of DA-IICT including Deepak Jagdish, Mohit Gupta, Rahul Sawhney and Shreyas Nangia, in an attempt to bridge the gap between those visually-impaired and those not, have taken an initiative to develop a software to help 160 million visually-impaired people all over the world.

"We used ultrasonic sensors to map the place around the visually impaired person, and then provide a real-time 3D sound feedback of the environment, using a PocketPC running on Windows Mobile 5.0. The solution also extends to other platforms running on .NET Framework, and leverages accessibility of computers to the blind, using frequency grids and speech support," team members said while talking to reporters here.

An extensive exercise was done at Blind Peoples Association, Ahmedabad in an attempt to provide them with an application to give them a sense of space, they further said.

The solution would cost around 100-110 dollar and will help blind people to interact with the machine as well as the real world.

During the inception of the project concept, we were looking for a target group to which our solution would cater to, they said adding that the initial rounds of the competition in the month of February were important for them.

The technology will help blind people, both in the real-world of day-to-day navigation, and also in the virtual world of computers empowering them to use a mouse in their day-to-day life.

Being programmers and technology-enthusiasts, each member of the team has a unique role, with Deepak as the Team Leader, Mohit as the User Research Lead, Rahul as the Lead Programmer, and Shreyas as the Hardware Expert.

The prize amount for this category (software design) is 25,000 dollar for the first place, 15,000 dollar for the second place and 8,000 dollar for the third place.

Comprising a total of 41 teams in this category, the winner will be announced on August 11 at New Delhi.


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