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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 07/06/2014
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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) University student janani ram is now in the throes of making her prize-winning idea into reality and helping the blind ?see?.

it’s like google glass meeting the bionic eye; and it has all been dreamed up by a dubai teenager.

nineteen-year-old university student janani ram is hoping to transform the lives of blind and visually impaired people around the globe with her prize-winning high-tech idea my visual companion.

ram who was born in india but lives in dubai has won 35000 after taking out one of four categories — invention — in a regional competition run by samsung called launching people. ram’s idea was declared the winner through popular vote.

the concept sees visually impaired people donning a set of custom-made glasses that contain a gps device and a camera which will then send audio signals to the wearer to help them ‘see’ obstacles around them and whether a walking signal is green or red.

“it’s like glasses or shades the camera would be at the top right corner of one of the shades and it would be able to detect obstacles… once it captures them it would send an audio signal to the blue tooth which in turn gives a message” says ram.

ram who has just finished her second year at the birla institute of technology & science’s dubai campus said she had long been interested in helping those with disabilities after her grandfather took her to visit orphanages when she was younger.

“the little joys of life... like watching birds flying... we in this age of technology don’t have the time to stop and enjoy these things we take them for granted then i realised the visually challenged don’t have these joys and i felt a moral obligation to help them.”

the teenager said that while “i definitely won’t be able to give them their independence fully” she hoped she could do so partially and that through her invention visually impaired people would feel confident to go out on the streets alone.

“when i visited the orphanages it made me realise (blind people are) confident and very strong except for simple things like crossing the road and that’s why i wanted to help them with technology…to help them move around safely and independently and make them feel confident.”

during the development stages which took several weeks ram said she spoke with blind people in india to find out what their biggest problems were through which they could use technology to help overcome.

“i always felt that they felt…dependent to even go anywhere so i always wanted to make their traveling a bit easier and less dependent. i asked them about it and they came back to me saying that is one of the major concerns for them.”

now the next big problem in ram’s busy schedule — even over the summer break she will be on an engineering internship — is to turn her concept into reality.

the concept

visually impaired people could wear a set of custom-made glasses that contain a gps device and a camera which will send audio signals to the wearers to help them ‘see’ obstacles around them and whether a walking signal is green or red

however she said she was feeling confident that the first prototype could be built over several months with the aid of a mentor provided by samsung mohammad saeed harib who created animated emirati series freej.

“we’ve got so many things like google glass and so many other things that can actually scan what’s in front of you it should be relatively possible.

“i’ve no idea how long it’s going to take but i’m sure samsung is going to be with me along the way.”

ram admitted to feeling “terrified” that she now has to put her money where her mouth is.

“it’s going to be more real because it has to reach people. the idea was good because they selected it…the thought that it’s going to become alive it’s kind of unnerving.”

but her success had also helped distil the direction she wanted to go in the future she said.

“once the idea got through and it came as a winner…it made me realise i want to do things that will contribute to society. whatever i do should contribute to society all my future projects.”

sumsung gulf electronics head of corporate marketing marco vocale said ram and the other winners impressed both the judges and public.

“i would like to congratulate them for pursuing their dreams. we now with the help of our mentors look forward to supporting these individuals to launch their ideas in the coming weeks.”



Khaleej Times

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