• Sunday, July 03, 2022

Business

Indian origin nine-year-old wins award for Smart Stick for blind

By: Radhakrishna N S

A NINE-year-old Indian origin girl has won Tech4Goods award for her innovative next-generation Smart Stick for the blind.

Mihika will receive £5,000 of tech equipment of her choice, as well as focused sessions with BT experts, to get support for her project.

Her new smart stick helps blind and visually-impaired people walk more safely and with greater independence.

The latest aid utilises right and left vibrating alerts, a water sensor, LED lights and a camera with artificial intelligence, to recognise and track obstacles that a normal stick cannot.

Mihika said: “I was so excited to be shortlisted, and I can’t believe I’ve won! My brother Arnav was a part of the Tech4Good awards in 2016 and that really inspired me to start thinking more about how technology can help other people. I can’t wait to work with BT to develop the Smart Stick further so that we reach more people who really need it.”

Mihika first began developing her next-generation Smart Stick when she was just six years old after witnessing a blind woman stumble while crossing the road.

This year’s finalists for the award are part of a growing trend of school- children actively thinking about using technology to help solve some of society’s biggest challenges.

Robin Christopherson MBE awards judge and Head of Digital Inclusion at AbilityNet said: “Mihika’s ingenious entry combines several smart technologies and has the potential to help considerably improve the lives of many blind and low-vision white cane users.

“Incorporating a range of sensors, the Smart stick assists the user in several ways; to avoid hazards such as deep puddles, as well as giving important ‘haptic’ directional feedback via Bluetooth audio – a potential lifesaving feature for those who are deafblind. Add in the customisable 3D-printed cane for smaller children, and this one’s a clear winner.”

The Highly Commended Award in the BT Young Pioneer Category went to Josh Lowe and Edublocks, an easy-to-use, drag-and-drop tool which helps young people code with the programming language Python 3.

The tool has been rolled out across various UK schools in an effort to make coding more accessible than ever before.

Along with the other finalists, Joshua will receive tickets to explore Bletchley Park, the once top-secret home of World War II codebreakers.

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