Engineering students display projects for the disabled
Undergraduate students at the Hebrew University's School for Engineering and Computer Science displayed their graduation projects this week.
According to Dr. Uriel Levy and Dr. Dana Porat, who supervised these projects, many are connected to technologies relating to accessibility and the disabled.
They also stated that there has been a trend over recent years to create projects relating to smart telephones.
The Director of the University's Applied Physics Department, Prof. Ronnie Agranat, stated that the projects display the unique abilities the students acquired in the programme to merge elements from different spheres into one technology. "The projects reflect the convergence between the engineer, the scientist and the inventor."
As a result, Alon Cohen and Roi Biton, students of Applied Physics, developed a system which enables those suffering from muscular dystrophy. to control all the electric appliances in their home. These patients cannot control their muscles, with the exception of facial muscles and the tips of their fingers, and must generally be assisted around the clock by somebody who carries out all activities for them.
The system they developed enables patients to be independent and control activities such as: changing television channels, operating a computer, moving a wheel chair, switching lights on and dialing a cell phone, all by remote control.
This is in the form of a small box, with a coloured display, attached to a wheel chair, which is able to connect by wireless to items containing an infra-red device or a sensor. Via a slight thumb movement, the user can completely control a Bluetooth system, thereby enjoying much more independence in his home.
An additional development was made by student Ronen Haber. This is computer software which enables disabled people to surf the internet independently. The user operates the software by blinking his eyes and only requires a simple internet camera.
After initial calibration, the software can follow the user's blinks instead of commands via the keyboard. "I wanted to develop cheaper software for the disabled than that now available in the market, which can cost thousands of shekels", explained Haber. He identified the need for such software in his volunteer work for the last four years with youth suffered from muscular dystrophy.
Computer engineering students Aviad Pines, Assaf Dasa and Nir Ateret, dedicated their final project to developing an interface that aids the sight impaired to read their cell phone text in Braille, The software translates cell phone text into hardware, which translates it into Braille.
The students installed six small engines which "envelop" the cell phone, similar to a "hands free instrument", each engine corresponding to a Braille dot. Each letter in Braille consists of six dots, some embossed and some sunken to the touch, giving 64 different combinations. The system enables text reading, the identification of the incoming caller and other data. It should be noted that in the development the students received assistance from a sight impaired person who works with technology and computers.
Amos Kleinberger, Oren Barchan and Meital Albo, all computer engineers, developed software enabling doctors and medical researchers to define medical occurrences in the patients' files. "At present, after taking blood tests, for example, the results are listed in the health organization's data base randomly" they said.
Their development ensures that the data appear on the doctor's screen according to the relevance of the specific event, instead of chronologically, as they appear at present. The software is designated for hospitals, health care clinics, doctors and researchers. The development is nearly finished and one of the health care funds is discussing its possible integration.
An additional development is in music: computer engineering students Ron Yehudai and Itai Avin, both veteran guitarists, developed new software which enables pupils to learn to play the instrument independently. The software deals mainly with learning to play scales or ? on the guitar. It is only necessary to connect the guitar (electric or classic) to the computer via a microphone.
The pupil learns to play unaided and receives feedback on his performance. There are a number of applications available to learn guitar, but none give feedback on the performance or correct the player.