Date: Monday, July 9, 2012
Category: Conference News
AlphaBraille, a game designed to teach children how to recognize Braille letters, was awarded the “Technology Most Likely to Become Commercially Available” on Monday, July 2nd at the Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology Society of North America’s (RESNA) annual conference held in Baltimore, MD. The student designers, Seong-Hee Yoon, Lina Carballo, and Quetrell Heyward are students at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The award comes with a $500 cash prize and an invitation for one team member to spend 3 weeks at the Center for the Translation of Rehabilitation Engineering Advances and Technology (TREAT) in Lebanon, NH, further developing the product. TREAT is the sponsor of this unique award, which was offered for the first time this year as part of the RESNA Student Design Competition.
For over 30 years, the RESNA Student Design Competition (SDC) has showcased creative and innovative assistive technology designs that help people with disabilities function more independently. This year, 23 universities from around the world submitted 35 designs. Entries were judged on originality, quality of design, and usefulness to persons with disabilities. Ten semi-finalist teams were selected to attend the RESNA conference, where the students presented to a panel of judges. The judges selected five finalists, who were recognized at an awards ceremony at the conference. The five finalists are:
- AlphaBraille – Seong-Hee Yoon, Lina Carballo, Quetrell Heyward, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
- Facilitating the Occupation of Taking Medication (MEDEASE) – Prina Cohen, Ana Talag, Sorin Uta, University of Toronto
- Guardian Angel/cane and able – Jane Hankins, Jennifer Black, Jeannine Blankinship, Raven Vilardo, Julieth Leon, Jessica Lopez, Brisi Favela, Tammy Thomsen, Roxanne Sharkey, Jeff Westendorf, California Lutheran University
- Mono-Mano Cycling Control System – Travis Block, David Narrow, Dominick Marino, Sara Hutchinson, Martin Szeto, University of Rochester
- Side-by-Side Skill Trainer, Enhanced Video Training – Ruslan Popovych, Marc Carroll, Jay Park, Abe Wu, Georgia Institute of Technology
All of the student design semi-finalist teams presented their designs to the RESNA community of assistive technology professionals, rehabilitation engineers, clinicians, developers, and manufacturers at the conference. This exposure to the professional community provides many students with their entry into the field, and SDC winners have frequently moved on to become leaders in the field of assistive technology. The National Science Foundation has been an ongoing sponsor of the competition, while TREAT is a first-year sponsor.
“We received great feedback on our design from knowledgeable experts. From rehabilitaton engineers to teachers, everyone we talked to expressed their immense excitement for the development of our product as well as the vast potential it has to aid children with visual impairments who are in the early stages of learning the Braille alphabet,” said Seong-Hee Yoon, spokesperson for the AlphaBraille team and a student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. “Winning the award and having the opportunity to work with professional product developers at the TREAT facilities is an incredible opportunity.”
“TREAT is looking forward to hosting the AlphaBraille student designer at our facility and further developing the product for market,” said Joshua Nelson, Program Manager at TREAT. “We’re proud to partner with RESNA and the National Science Foundation in support of student assistive technology designers.”
“We find the energy and creativity that the student designers bring to the competition to be inspiring and motivating,” said Maureen Linden, MS, co-chair of the RESNA Student Design Competition and a research engineer at Georgia Institute of Technology. “It was wonderful to see the range of entries this year, and we’re excited to introduce these talented students to the professional assistive technology community.”
Every student design competition submission is available on the RESNA Student Design Competition website, where members of the professional community can view the designs in detail, provide feedback, ask questions, and contact the designers directly. The website is located at this link: http://aac-rerc.psu.edu/wordpressmu/RESNA-SDC/.
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RESNA, the Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology Society of North America, is the premiere professional organization dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of people with disabilities through increasing access to technology solutions. Find out more at www.resna.org.
TREAT is the Center for the Translation of Rehabilitation Engineering Advances and Technology, part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) R24 network of rehabilitation resource centers. TREAT focuses on technology transfer and comparative effectiveness research and is funded through the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research (NCMRR), part of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). TREAT is a multidisciplinary, multi-institutional, collaborative consortium between corporate, educational and non-profit entities providing infrastructure support and expert consultation to researchers and innovators interested in the translation and commercialization of rehabilitation research applications. Visit http://www.simbex.com/TREAT.
To download a copy of this press release, please click here.
To go to the Student Design Competition website, please click here.