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.
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.
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.
A STUDENT project that uses social networking, short message service (SMS) and Smart Communications Inc.’s money transfer to gather relief goods for communities hit by disasters won this year’s Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program (Smart Sweep) Innovation and Excellence Award.
The student team from Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) won P500,000 for themselves and P500,000 in grants for their school last Saturday at the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City.
Charese Olmoguez (right), student team leader of Ateneo de Davao, explains to Smart SWEEP judges how her group’s search and rescue management system, which uses global positioning system (GPS) and geographic information system (GIS) data, works. Ateneo de Davao won second place in last Saturday’s Smart SWEEP Innovation and Excellence Award. (PHOTO FROM SMART PUBLIC AFFAIRS)
The Smart Sweep Innovation and Excellence Award was dominated by Ateneo schools, with ADMU taking the first and third spots and Ateneo de Davao University taking second place.
The ADMU team of Marc Ericson Santos, Adrian Khan, Carlos Miguel Lacson and Marty Peterson Tan was mentored by Ronell Sicat. The team created an integrated system that allowed people not only to donate online but to also invite friends in their social network to donate to their communities of choice. The system also tracks the donations.
Apart from Bulacan State University’s Smart Phone Guard, the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program (Sweep) project that really piqued my interest in this year’s Innovation and Excellence Awards is Ateneo de Manila University’s Smart Safety Assistance (3S).
The system packages mobile services, using open source projects, into a system that offers people access, via a PC or mobile device, to data on traffic and road conditions, floods, and crime incidence.
SMART SAFETY ASSISTANCE. Ted Angelo Chua, lead student of the team from Ateneo de Manila, explains to judges how 3S works. (photo by Smart PA)
Perhaps because it isn’t as visceral as the three winners, Ateneo de Manila missed a place in the top three. The 3S package is an excellent system, albeit more geared toward urban centers.
The 3S system centers on a web server that gathers traffic, crime, and flood data as well as video streams from cameras placed on major roads. The server then processes these data and makes it available via the Internet to a PC or phone. The server can also send the data as an MMS message and information as SMS message.
BSU could have taken the top two prizes had it combined its two home security projects: Smart LockInterCom and e-Spy Mobile Security. On its own, the two projects were good but not good enough to break into the top three.
The home security project that won second place, Smart House, was better than the two BSU projects individually in that it offered both security (alarms, SMS notifications) and convenience (turning lights and appliances on and off through SMS).
CONTROLLED THROUGH SMS. The project model of Bulacan State University’s Smart LockInterCom. The system allows you to open and lock doors and windows using a Java application in your phone that provides a visual interface to the SMS commands. Click on photo to view larger image.
Smart LockInterCom allows people to open and close doors and windows in their houses using SMS. The team that created the system also created a Java application that simplifies the process in your cell phone. The Java application provides a visual representation of your house or office and you can just click on doors to either open or lock it. The application also indicates which doors are locked.
It is that Java application that differentiates the project from others like it. The second place winner, Systems Plus College Foundation, only created the security system and you had to control it by sending SMS codes.
Boy, I didn’t know I had it in me. I’m in Manila for the Smart Wireless Engineering Education Program finals, which formally opens today at the SM Mall of Asia. Last Wednesday, organizers decided to host a paintball competition for participants at Global Gutz (a name that takes the wimp out of anyone) and, for kicks, I joined.
LET’S GET IT ON. My team during the paintball tournament staged by Smart for Sweep participants. Click on photo to view larger image.
I was initially drafted into the Smart team, which eventually won the competition, but I switched sides when the game was about to start. A Smart team member who was assigned to another team asked to switch places with me, with the pledge he won’t shoot me on the field.
I was bent on staying as far back as I could and play sniper, which is what I do in Counterstrike. I do not have the heart of a Thermopylae warrior and was ready, as soon as we were overrun, to fire all my bullets and raise my hands to indicate I was out of ammo to get myself out of the game.
But there’s something about putting on a combat vest and mask. The enveloping threat of suffocation in soaring heat seems to unleash repressed demons.