A team of four female students from Qatar University represented the country in the finals of the Microsoft Imagine Cup in Sydney, Australia recently.
The team – Technology Lanterns – was one of just three all-female teams in the international competition, which saw them pit their wits against 350 students from 74 other countries in a bid to secure first place. The Qatari team made it through to the second round of the finals, one of 20 teams to get that far.
The annual Imagine Cup, now in its 10th year, is the world’s premier student technology competition, which encourages teams from across the globe to come up with answers to some of the toughest international problems.
Qatar’s team, comprising College of Engineering students Fatma al Msaifri, Mariam al Ansari, Roqaya al Shaabi and Yasmin Halwani, supervised by faculty member Dr Osama Halabi, developed a product they named 3D-Kindio which helps blind people to move around more easily.
Inspired by the experiences of blind students at the university, and their difficulties in getting around the campus unaided, the four undergraduates wanted to develop a system which would allow blind people more freedom of movement and independence in their lives.
The name 3D-Kindio is a contraction of 3D sound, kinect and audio. The invention uses cameras from an Xbox Kinect, a battery, headphones and a laptop installed with Kindio software. It capitalises on a blind person’s hearing sense – their most acute – and uses tags to emit sounds which help the person determine the identity of an object, its position and its proximity. The pitch and frequency of the sounds change as a person moves around a space.
The user wears headphones built into a hat to enable them to hear the sounds, and a backpack to carry the laptop installed with the augmented reality software.
While still a prototype, the team hopes that in the future the project could be refined to make it more portable – replacing a laptop with a mobile phone and integrating control buttons into a jacket, to make it more userfriendly.
Describing the Qatar team’s participation in the finals, Yasmin Halwani said: “It was a remarkable achievement for the Qatari team to make it to the top 20 teams in its maiden participation in the Imagine Cup. The competition was exciting and so many innovative projects were presented by outstanding teams from all around the world. What an unforgettable experience!” Dr Mazen Hasna, dean of the College of Engineering at Qatar University, congratulated the students on their success.
He said: “We are delighted that the team made it through to the world finals of this prestigious, international competition. Their invention has received huge acclaim and we are proud of their success. They have been excellent ambassadors for Qatar, QU and the College of Engineering.”
source: Qatar Tribune
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