Winning students help the blind take buses
Seven students won first prize in a charity competition with their project assisting the visually impaired to take buses.
Hackathon, a competition aimed at technological solutions to empower public welfare programs, had three different tracks based on real problems charities are facing – designing interactive interfaces for the visually-impaired, designing sound visualization tools to help children from underdeveloped areas with their mandarin pronunciation and interactive designs to raise awareness for privacy protection.
The competition had 16 teams made up of individual participants with diversified majors such as computer science and social sciences.
The winning team was composed of two high school students and five college students. Their project assists the blind to receive bus information and surrounding physical information through sensors and receivers such as smart wearable devices and corresponding apps.
Team members said they had seen short videos of blind people using their mobile phones to order takeaway food and were inspired to do something to make information accessible to disadvantaged groups.
The competition was organized by Tech4Good, a charity organization comprising students from universities such as Tsinghua, University of Pennsylvania, Rice and NYU, the Shanghai Mana Data Technology Development Foundation and NGO2.0.
Hackathon is putting technology empowerment into practice so that more people in need can benefit from technology, said Zhang Wei, founder of the foundation.
Visually-impaired engineers with the OPO Disability Group, a non-profit organization, shared their stories with participants.
"In our lives, it is not easy to feel empathy, but this event provides more young people with such an opportunity,”said Li Dawei, founder of the Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab. "The projects of these participants have shown me the humanistic care of the younger generation."