Smart Walking Stick Designed by SL Students Wins at APICTA Awards in Taiwan
Walking to school one day, two bright young students from St. Anthony’s College, Kandy passed by a street musician playing beautiful music on a flute. They were then shocked to realize that the street musician was, in fact, blind. The blind man and his soulful music inspired them to create something that would help people who are visually handicapped and possibly deaf. This inspiration drove them to create a smart walking stick from scratch and of their very own design.
The smart walking stick uses a variety of systems and sensors to operate. A built-in tracking system can be used to find the walking stick if it happens to be misplaced and this combines with a messaging system that can alert a relative or caregiver to any anomalous behaviour with a location of the disabled person. We also understand that the disabled person themselves may trigger a call for help using the messaging system.
The most apparently useful technology that the smart walking stick features is an obstacle proximity detection and warning system. Using ultrasonic technology the walking stick is able to detect obstacles within 90cm of the disabled person and warn them about the obstacle using a system of vibrations. Another interesting feature is an LED indicator system that alerts persons in close proximity to the user of the walking stick that the user is visually impaired.
The two boys who designed and developed the smart walking stick are Gajindu Bandara and Gimhana Wijeyawardana from St. Anthony’s College, Kandy. Their creation competed against entries from all over the world and won the gold medal in the School Category at the Asia-Pacific ICT Alliance Awards (APICTA), which was held this year in Taipei, Taiwan. The duo has also won the Young Computer Scientist competition, which is organized by the Federation of IT Industry Sri Lanka and the Ministry of Education.
The smart walking stick is intended for use by people of all age groups and the duo who developed it are now working on making the device more power efficient and possibly installing solar panels to allow for continuous power. The power source and fitting the necessary electronics into the confined space was a major issue during development and was overcome by using the smallest programming boards and rechargeable batteries.
The two boys who developed the walking stick are optimistic about its future and feel that their product could become a commercially viable project. They are also working on other plans and are brimming with ambition and creativity. While the idea of a smart walking stick is not new and a number of massive companies have taken steps in this direction, those companies have been backed by massive funding and vast teams of professionals working on those projects. Yet here, we have two young boys, still in school with a shoe string budget having created a useful, working prototype.
What wonders will they achieve once they leave school and have more resources at their disposal? We are excited to see!
Share your thoughts and comments on this brave and brilliant achievement with us in the comments below!