Student project that lets you monitor, control lights, appliances via phone wins SWEEP awards

A SYSTEM that allows homeowners to monitor and control lights and electrical appliances in their homes from anywhere via mobile technology won the 9th SWEEP Innovation and Excellence Awards last Thursday in Dusit Hotel in Makati City.

Colegio De San Juan Letran’s SMS.AWT: Switching and Monitoring System Using Android in Wireless Technology was picked the best among the 10 finalists that made it to the finals of the nationwide search for student applications with the theme “Technology in Nation-Building.”

The student team, led by 5th year computer engineering student Frances Marie Kagahastian, won P500,000 in cash and an equivalent amount in grants for the school. The team won an additional P50,000 for the Ericsson Networked Society Award.

Frances Marie Kagahastian of Colegio De San Juan Letran receives her award for winning the top prize in the 9th SWEEP Innovation and Excellence Awards. With her are (from left) PLDT-Smart public affairs head Ramon Isberto, PLDT president and CEO Napoleon Nazareno, PLDT and Smart chairman Manny Pangilinan, her teacher-mentor, an official from the Department of Science and Technology, PLDT and Smart technology head Rolando Peña and technology group head Mar Tamayo. (Photo provided by Smart)

Frances Marie Kagahastian of Colegio De San Juan Letran receives her award for winning the top prize in the 9th SWEEP Innovation and Excellence Awards. With her are (from left) PLDT-Smart public affairs head Ramon Isberto, PLDT president and CEO Napoleon Nazareno, PLDT and Smart chairman Manny Pangilinan, her teacher-mentor, an official from the Department of Science and Technology, PLDT and Smart technology head Rolando Peña and technology group head Mar Tamayo. (Photo provided by Smart)

Kagahastian, who said her dream was only to be featured in a tarpaulin banner in their school, said she was overwhelmed by the victory. It was the first time her school joined the contest.

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Innovation

It is always refreshing and inspiring to cover the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program (Sweep) Innovation and Excellence Awards. The annual contest pits engineering schools throughout the country in a contest on the use of mobile technology to solve community problems.

Anyone in despair at the state of education in the country need only to spend an afternoon among these kids to rekindle hope. These kids are awesome hackers (in the original meaning of the word).

This year’s winner is an all-women team from the Mapua Institute of Technology. Their project was a device that rendered text messages into Braille and a cane that can detect obstructions and then warn its user.

The team of Janiena Roxanne Dirain, Kristine Emy Matabang and Girly Perando with mentor Ayra Panganiban got P500,000 for the win. Their school got P500,000 in grants.

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Mapua student team wins Sweep Innovation and Excellence Award with Braille cellphone, obstacle detector

SEEING a blind masseuse crouching silently on a corner with a cellphone held to her head gave three graduating Mapua Institute of Technology engineering students the idea for an undergraduate project and thesis.

“I asked the receptionist what she was doing and she said the masseuse received a text message and was listening to it,” student team leader Janiena Roxanne Dirain said in Filipino. “The problem was she had to listen to the message three to four times because she couldn’t understand it since the program had an American accent and the message was in Filipino.”

Dirain, Girly Perando and Kristine Emy Matabang exchanged looks and decided right there and then on the subject of their undergraduate project under adviser Ayra Panganiban.

WINNING PROJECT. Members of the Mapua Institute of Technology team that created a Braille cellphone and an obstacle detector talk to Smart president and chief executive officer Napoleon Nazareno (left) and public affairs head Ramon Isberto at their booth during the Sweep Innovation and Excellence Awards. The Mapua team won the nationwide contest of engineering projects held last Wednesday at the SM Mall of Asia. CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE. (SMART PUBLIC AFFAIRS PHOTO)

WINNING PROJECT. Members of the Mapua Institute of Technology team that created a Braille cellphone and an obstacle detector talk to Smart president and chief executive officer Napoleon Nazareno (left) and public affairs head Ramon Isberto at their booth during the Sweep Innovation and Excellence Awards. The Mapua team won the nationwide contest of engineering projects held last Wednesday at the SM Mall of Asia. CLICK ON PHOTO TO ENLARGE. (SMART PUBLIC AFFAIRS PHOTO)

The three decided to find a way to render text messages into Braille and devised a lunchbox-sized gadget comprising of a microcontroller and a GSM module. The gadget renders text messages into Braille letter by letter, with the device popping up dots to make up the letters.

The project, “Wearable Obstacle Detection System and Braille Cellphone for the Blind,” won P500,000 for three students and another P500,000 in grants for the school during the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program (Sweep) Innovation and Excellence Awards Wednesday at the Mall of Asia in Pasay City.

Mass production

Perando said they added an obstacle detection system, set up in a cane, to provide more assistance to the blind. The system detects obstructions of up to five meters away and alerts the blind user via vibrations. The alert becomes more frequent the closer the obstructions become.

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