Student Design Challenge - Call for Participation

The Student Design Challenge (SDC) at the EMPOWER conference has been introduced to encourage a greater participation of students and early-stage innovators to contribute to the growing assistive technology sector in India and the Global South. As India’s premier conference on assistive technology solutions, EMPOWER 2022 will bring together a diverse range of stakeholders from the country and abroad, and will provide a very effective platform for engaging in early stage technology design discussions.

For this year’s SDC, teams could pick from the six problem statements given below. Every team will be expected to work on developing a working/design prototype to address the specific problem they choose. A team of mentors will be available to provide guidance to the teams at identified stages during the solution conceptualization/design process. Winning teams will receive cash awards andan opportunity to attend EMPOWER 2022 at IIT Madras Research Park and present their ideas to a distinguished panel of expertsin the assistive technology space.

I. Problem Statements

1. Accessible plug that beeps when it is on

When we charge an electronic gadget, it is not possible for persons with visual impairment to know if charging has started. It is required to design an accessible plug which should beep when charging commences. If it gets disconnected for some reason, it can beep differently to indicate “Stop”, so that when it reconnects, the “Start” beep can be played again. The plug should be device independent.

Justification: The solution is independent of the device. To know the percentage of charge in the device, the information is required to be obtained from the device which could be any electronic gadget. This is not easy and the device vendors need to support such a plug. Besides, for further information from the device, the device needs to have some amount of charge and be switched on. The plug that we are looking for is required to only indicate whether charging has STARTED and if for some reason charging aborts, then it should indicate the same.

2. Scanning stand for phone with different height for different page size

People who are visually impaired often read printed text using scan and read apps on the phone, which use OCR technology to make printed text accessible. To hold the phone in the right position, a stand is required that enables the user to set up the phoneat the right height for scanning documents. However, the right height to scan a document can vary based on this size of the book or document. For example, and A4 size document requires the phone to be held at a different height than an A3 documents does. Since people who are visually impaired find the process of adjusting the height based on the camera view difficult, the scan stand must not only have height adjustable mechanism, but must also have grooves to indicate the appropriate height for different types of documents. The most commonly used Scan sources are paperback and hardcover books, A4 size documents, and textbooks. The scan stand must therefore have a mechanism that enables the user to easily fix the height at these particular positions. This must be built based on the guidelines for the optimum height for scanning print media. This solution could also include the possibility to automatically move the camera to the required height.

3. Weighing scale for a wheelchair user

Wheelchair users find it very difficult to get their weight measured with dignity. So, it is required to design a weighing scale which can be self-used to measure the weight of a person who is wheelchair bound, i.e. the person should not have to move out of the wheelchair. This solution is required to be mandatorily independently usable by the wheelchair user, portable and affordable by Indian users.

4. Accessible lab devices

i) Accessible Multi-meters

Multi-meters are not accessible for students with visual impairment in their current design. It is required to design one which can provide audio readings which can be saved/uploaded, and if possible a Braille display for students with deafness and blindness.

ii) Application/Device to know the height of the filled liquid in a test tube or beaker

Many lab experiments deal with liquid ingredients and their height in a beaker or test tube. Tactile marks are not always useful as the student cannot insert their finger into the liquid always. So, it is required to design a mechanism –an app or an assistive technology –which will help to get the height reading from such containers.

5. Abnormal gait classification

Data of 5 types of anomalies are presented. The 5 types of anomalies are Antalgic gait, stiff legged gait, lurching gait, steppage gait and Trendelenburg gait, in addition to normal gait. Data setcompriseof data that is collected through a Kinect V2. Performance will be evaluated through the performance measures of accuracy, precision, sensitivity, and specificity.

6. Eyegazecapture and blinking detection

The participants need to detect eye gaze and blinking gesture. It needs to be realized on the gazecapturedataset. Performance is measured bytheerror in terms of average Euclidean distance (in centimeters) from the location of the true fixation.

II. Eligibility and expression of interest

Teams of up to 4 persons are eligible. Multidisciplinary and inclusive teams are strongly encouraged to apply.

Submissions have been closed.

III. Prizes

The winning team will receive a cash prize of INR50,000/- and two runner-up teams will receive a prize of INR25,000/- each. In addition to the prize money, incubation support may also be provided to promising teams to further productize the solutions atresearch labs and innovation facilities attached to IIT Delhi, IIT Madras, IIIT Bangalore, Artilab Foundation (subject to fulfilling any additional specific eligibility criteria of these facilities).

A waiver of registration charges and travel grants to attend the conferencewillbe provided to all the 4-6 shortlisted teams.

IV. Expected output and Judging criteria

For their final submission, every shortlisted team will be expected to come up with a working prototype (or, a design prototype)as per the problem statement selected. Before the final shortlisting and after the second review by mentors, the teams will be asked to submit a one-page poster and a 3-5 minute video of their work/prototype. Shortlisted teams will be invited to present their prototype during the conference. More details on the criteria to be adopted for judging will be provided during the briefing and mentoring sessions.

V. Timeline

  • 10thJuly2022: Release of call for participation
  • Closed: Last date for expressing interest by interested students/teams
  • 6thAugust2022 (Saturday): Briefing session for the interested teams by the mentors
  • 20thAugust 2022 (Saturday): First review by mentors
  • 17thSeptember 2022 (Saturday): Second review by mentors; identification of shortlisted teams
  • 30thSeptember 2022: Submission of final write-ups/videos by shortlisted teams
  • 14thOctober 2022: Presentation by shortlisted teams and selection of winners

For any queries or clarifications, please send an email to info[at]empower2022[dot]in with “Student Design Challenge” in the subject line.