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UAE innovations: High-tech shoes to guide the blind

posted on 21/04/2014: 2633 views

A pair of shoes to guide the blind, a glove that converts sign language into spoken words and a device to create environmentally friendly dye.

These were just some of the 200 creations from about 550 young innovators on display at the Think Science fair and competition yesterday.

Sara Al Suwaidi and her team came up with the idea to help the blind become more mobile by using shoes with an ultrasound device attached.

"Our project's name is ‘Guiding Shoes' – it is for helping [the blind] reach their destination safely,” she said.

"We attached a buzzer and ultrasonic sensors. It is lightweight and doesn't create bone defects or any other health problems,” she said.

The device can detect any object within one metre. Ayesha Al Zaabi, also a member of the team, said: "Our main goal is to instil confidence in blind people. We replaced the canes they carry because people keep looking at them.”

Their project is affordable and simple, she said. But the young girls faced some limitations, including the loud sound their detector emits. "But it may also be an advantage in a crowded place, for example on a street or parking lot,” Sara said.

"Also, during one of the tests, the wires broke because they are very thin,” said the team's third member, Aysha Al Senaidi.

"If we want to improve our shoe, we recommend using thicker wires.”

The three Emirati inventors are in Grade 12 at the Applied Technology High School for girls in Abu Dhabi.

Another team of Emirati Grade 12 students from the Applied Technology High School for boys created a device to help those with hearing loss – a glove that can convert sign language into spoken words.

The invention uses the alphabet of the American Sign Language as phrases, Said Al Nauimi, one of the students, explained.

"For A, we replaced it with ‘hello' and for B, we replaced it with ‘how are you' [in Arabic]. We can also programme it to English, or any word and any language,” he said.

The idea for the glove, a prototype for now, was inspired after the pupils witnessed someone with hearing loss struggling to communicate with the cashier at a restaurant. The glove consists of straps and switches that can detect movements.

A third innovative project looked at ways to clean up the environment and produce a safe fabric dye. For this, a team of Grade 11 girls from the American International School in Dubai created an apparatus that uses orange peels to produce a dye.

"Our project aims to prove that orange peels can be used as low-cost absorbents for dyes,” said Jeremie Pearl Cruz, who is from the Philippines.

"Dyes are used by textile industries, paper and plastic manufacturers, even food manufacturers.

"We used orange peels, a common waste in the food industry, as an absorbent for dye and we made a prototype. We made them in powder form so that there is an increase in surface area,” she said.

Jeremie also explained how orange peels are dumped in the environment, which could be harmful.

"When they get into water sources or water systems in which biological organisms live, they often cloud the water and prevent sunlight from penetrating the water, preventing them from performing photosynthesis,” she said.

The teams will get the chance to win prizes including scientific trips and the winners will be announced in the coming months.

The competition is organised by the Emirates Foundation for Youth Development in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Abu Dhabi Education Council.

The Think Science fair was launched in 2012 by the foundation to encourage Emirati youth between the ages of 15 and 24 into science.

It is held under the patronage of Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and continues until tomorrow at the World Trade Centre. – The National – Read more: Follow us: @TheNationalUAE on Twitter | on Facebook


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